Frozen Android smartphone give up confidential encrypted data
A German team of security researchers at Erlangen’s Friedrich-Alexander University have found that a smartphone running on Android give up data when physically frozen below -10C. The team froze the phone for an hour to bypass the encryption system by scrambling it. The data scrambling system was introduced by Google on its Ice Cream Sandwich OS. The process allowed the researchers to extract the contact list, photos and browsing history. They coded special software called ‘Frost’ to retrieve the sensitive data, freezing the phone below -10C and then a quick reset by removing the battery force the phone to start on a fast-boot mode unearthing its vulnerability. Data fades at a very slow rate from the chip when frozen, so it is easier to hack. The same method has been used to hack computers but was never tried on a smartphone before. The team used Samsung Galaxy Nexus for the test but said other smartphones using Android will exhibit similar results. This might be a cause of concern for people who carry classified and sensitive data on their smartphones. The name ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’ and its vulnerability under sub-zero temperature is ironic-to say the least.