Freeze an Android and Discover Its Secrets

Posted on Mar 24 2013 - 4:21pm by Robert

If you ever see a friend or relative put a phone in their freezer you might think that it is evidence that they have finally cracked up.

However, there could be a more sinister reason for their phone freezing attempts. They could be trying to discover, gasp, what secrets are locked away inside it.

Strange as it may sound, some German security researchers have been freezing Android phones. Quite why they thought that doing this could be a way of unlocking the phone’s secrets is a mystery. However, what they have discovered is that an hour of cooling off can result in the device’s encryption system being compromised sufficiently for them to get the data which is supposedly safely stored on it.

Lots of Things Protected

androidGoogle brought in this level of security in the Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android and it protects information such as the phone’s contact list, the photos and the browsing history.

The workers at the Friedrich Alexander University set about getting hold of the scrambled data because of fears that the hidden information would be inaccessible for police and forensic experts.

The research team of Michael Spreitzenbarth, Felix Freiling and Tilo Muller therefore came up with the idea of freezing the Android devices to see if that did the trick.  After it has been in the freezer for an hour the next step is to very quickly connect and then disconnect the battery of the frozen phone.  By doing this they could then start it up by using their own custom built software, which they called FROST (Forensic Recovery of Scrambled Telephones). Hey presto, the frozen Android tells you its secrets while you settle down with a pot of ice cream and check out those photos.

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