- Delhi Police is one of the law enforcement agencies that can access data from smartphones.
- Delhi Police use tools from Israeli cybersecurity company Cellebrite such as UFED (Universal Forensic Extraction Device).
- The tools used by American agencies have proven to be far more effective than their Indian counterparts.
If you thought nobody can ever extract data from your locked smartphone, you are highly mistaken. In India, Delhi Police is one of the law enforcement agencies that can access data from smartphones including iPhones using special tools, a report has claimed. However, the tools are not always successful.
As per a report by Medinama, Delhi Police can break into smartphones and even iPhones using a tool. The report also stated that the Indian law enforcement agencies are not as successful as the American law enforcement agencies in breaking into the smartphones that are protected by various security procedures. The tools used by American agencies have proven to be far more effective than their Indian counterparts.
The Medianama report states that the Delhi Police use tools from Israeli cybersecurity company Cellebrite such as UFED (Universal Forensic Extraction Device) and Physical Analyser by Celebrate that was also used by the FTI consulting to conclude that Amazon CEO's iPhone X was hacked by Saudi Arabian Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
Another set of tools that are used by Delhi Police are MicroSystemation AB's (MSAB) XRY tool, Russian firm Oxygen Forensics' Detective, and Czech firm Compelson Labs' MOBILedit. These tools are primarily used in extracting data from locked smartphones. The success rate, however, remains, inconstant.
Commenting on the tools, Anyesh Roy, the deputy commissioner of police who heads Delhi Police's Cyber Crime Cell unit, told MediaNama, "All the forensic tools through which data can be extracted, they are available. The data is only extracted when the investigation demands it. The data extraction process is also specified on the basis of how much data the investigation officer demands and how much data can be extracted using the tools, he said.
The tools that are used for breaking into smartphones is housed in the National Cyber Forensic Laboratory (NCFL) in New Delhi.
Accessing data from an iPhone seems a lot harder than accessing data from Android phones due to many policies and security measures taken by the company. Apple CEO Tim Cook was once ordered by a US magistrate to create special software that would allow the FBI to hack into the iPhone of a suspect. The iPhone was protected by a four-digit password that the FBI was not able to crack so the FBI had requested Apple for special software that would help them break into the iPhone. But Cook had flatly refused. He had said that the new unlocked version could be very dangerous, it could also be misused or stolen.
However, data extraction tools like Cellebrite do have the capability of breaking into locked iPhones without needing any assistance from Apple. Soon after the iOS 14 was announced, Cellebrite had tweeted about the data extraction support for iOS 14. "To help investigators breakdown the message silos and gain a unified view of the communication regardless of the channel used (SMS, MMS or iMessage), version 7.38 presents the communications within Chats, under a single, unified conversation view," the company had said in a blog.
Moreover, there are different tools that are used for different extractions. For instance, if the Police want to access a culprit's WhatsApp chats to nab him. It can use a different tool.