Data recovery company DriveSavers is a new service that claims it can recover sensitive data from a locked smartphone, including notably difficult-to-crack iOS devices. The company's service, called Passcode Lockout Data Recovery, is advertised for regular consumers and not seeningly designed for law enforcement or any other type of official cybersecurity business. Yet The Verge was unable to directly verify the efficacy of the tool, and the offer goes against many promises made by Apple about the security of its storage.
"The first-of-its-kind service is offered exclusively to consumers who have lost many wrong incorrect attempts, and for those who have access to a data stored on a device of a deceased family member, reads the company's press release. "Other companies offer a similar service only to law enforcement. DriveSavers is the first to offer a Passcode Lockout Data Recovery service to consumers. The DriveSavers service is not available for law enforcement and requires evidence of ownership before unlocking a device. "
In an email to The Verge, a DriveSavers spokesperson says the service costs $ 3,900 per device, but the company claims it will return your phone or tablet to unlocked. "Depending on the situation, we may request death certificates, probate documents, court documents, or other legal documents. In the case of a death, we verify who is the executor of the state through interview and documentation, "the spokesperson said.
The company says primarily designed for the family members of the deceased loved ones to access locked devices, but it will not disclose exactly how it's able to bypass security protocols on iOS or on Android devices. DriveSavers is also advertising its services for Windows machines, and the devices of many manufacturers like Huawei, Lenovo, LG, and ZTE.
Of course, these claims invite some serious skepticism. Apple's iPhone is protected by a passcode lock system that not even the FBI were able to bypass its own, instigating an infamous showdown between Apple and the agency two years ago over the unlocking of the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone 5C. (Apple refused to build a special version of its operating system for the FBI that would include a backdoor, the FBI sued, but eventually dropped the case.)
That's because the passcode on an iPhone is encrypted, so not even Apple is able to access a device once it is locked. There are ways to remotely wipe the device, but retrieving information like texts, photos, and other on-device data not stored in the cloud is supposed to be technically impossible, at least not without a high-level vulnerability.
The FBI ultimately purchased the service of a third-party company, reportedly for upward of $ 1 million, the details of which a federal judge ruled the FBI did not have to end to disclose to the public for fear it could be used by foreign adversaries. Nevertheless, the exploit used in that case is believed to be no longer work, as it relied on the architecture of an older version of iOS.
There are methods to retrieve information from a locked iPhone via iCloud by going through Apple directly with a search warrant, but it's not a standard procedure for your everyday consumer, and it does not appear to be what DriveSavers claim to have access to. There are also ways to spoof a fingerprint data to use the USB devices, most notably the GrayKey hacking tool used by some law enforcement agencies until Apple developed a method to block it completely.
DriveSavers does not appear to be employing any of these methods that we know of right now, but it's a possibility the company does have some one-of-a-kind tool that reads the data.