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article imageSmartphones can be accessed by freezing them

By Tim Sandle     Mar 11, 2013 in Technology
Freezing a smartphone, or at least an Android enabled device, can help to reveal its contents, according to new research conducted in Germany.
For the investigation the researchers froze several phones for an hour (until the devices had cooled to below -10C) and found that this was a way to bypass the encryption system that protects the data on a smartphone. The act of freezing, followed by the act of quickly disconnecting and reconnecting the battery, effectively scrambled it, according to Security-Technology News. The model that the researchers used was the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.
CNET describes why the phones are vulnerable to freezing: “How does the extreme cold temperature make it possible to access the data? Data stored in the RAM will hang around for longer periods of time if the temperature is much colder.”
From the act of freezing, the researchers, based at Erlangen's Friedrich-Alexander University, could access contact lists, browsing histories and photos from the devices. According to ITV News, the researchers (Tilo Muller, Michael Spreitzenbarth and Felix Freiling) have described their method as 'FROST' (forensic recovery of scrambled telephones) technique.
One of the researchers, Tilo Muller, is quoted by Mobility as saying: “We thought it would work because smartphones are really small PCs. But we were quite excited that the trick with the freezer worked so well."
It appears that when Google introduced a data scrambling system with the version of Android known as Ice Cream Sandwich (or Android 4.0, with unintended irony) that this particular risk to smartphones arose.
No comment has been reported by media outlets from Google.
More about Smartphone, Android, Encryption, Freezing, Google
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