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Cracking software retrieves iPhone 4 passwords

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A Russian password-cracking company has released software it says can recover passwords stored on Apple's latest iPhone without modifying the device or any of the data stored on it.

ElcomSoft of Moscow says the latest version of its iPhone Password Breaker will recover the encrypted keychains that the iPhone 4 uses to store passwords for email accounts, websites, and third-party software. The company markets the software as a tool for forensic investigators, but there's nothing stopping creepy roommates and spouses from using it to surreptitiously snoop on people who use the Apple smartphone.

The software works by extracting the password used to encrypt an iPhone keychain once it has been backed up on a computer hard drive. iOS 4, which Apple released in June, gives users the option of encrypting the backup using a hardware key that's unique to each iPhone, or with a dedicated backup password.

“The latest update allows ElcomSoft tool to grant forensic access to passwords stored in iPhone devices running iOS 4, with known or unknown backup passwords and without altering the content of the phone,” the company said in a press release issued Thursday. “In case the original backup password is unknown, ElcomSoft iPhone Password Breaker will perform the recovery of the original password to backup. With a known backup password, keychains are recovered near instantly.”

The company offers a wide variety of password-cracking tools that make use of video acceleration hardware from ATI or Nvidia, a process that's “orders of magnitude faster than traditional CPU-only algorithms.” The software is designed to work seamlessly with higher end PCs that have a GPU card installed.

A PDF of ElcomSoft's press release is here. ®

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