Elcomsoft Cloud eXplorer
Forensic Acquisition of Google Accounts
Acquire information from users’ Google Account with a simple all-in-one tool! Elcomsoft Cloud Explorer makes it easier to download, view and analyze information collected by the search giant, providing convenient access to users’ search and browsing history, page transitions, contacts, Google Keep notes, Hangouts messages, as well as images stored in the user’s Google Photos account.
Google collects massive amounts of information from registered customers. Elcomsoft Cloud Explorer extracts information from the many available sources, parses and assembles the data, presenting information in human-readable form.
Features and Benefits
Note * SMS access is available for smartphones running Android 8.0 Oreo or newer
Google Data in Digital Forensics
Cloud forensics is an emerging area to forensic experts and IT security officers. The amount of data generated by consumers using the many online services is hard to underestimate. This data can become extremely valuable for an investigation of criminal cases and security breaches of IT infrastructure.
Online services are increasingly used by consumers, including those of a criminal kind. Cloud service providers such as Google retain astonishing amounts of data that literally follow their users’ every step. Acquiring this evidence from cloud storage services can be a challenge. Viewing, discovering and analyzing the data may present yet another challenge if the investigator lacks tools and knowledge.
Elcomsoft Cloud Explorer was designed specifically to address those limitations. Requiring no special expertise and no prior training, Elcomsoft Cloud Explorer falls into the category of all-in-one tools offering one-click downloading and easy viewing of information. The tool comes with everything you need to investigate information that Google has about a suspect.
What Is Extracted
Elcomsoft Cloud Explorer offers over-the-air acquisition for a wide range of Google services including all of the following:
In other words, what you get is a comprehensive snapshot of user activities in Google services including searches made in non-Google browsers while the user was logged in to their Google Account.
Two-Factor Authentication Support
In order to access someone’s data, investigators must supply the correct Google ID and password. Since many users protect access to their accounts with two-step authentication, access to the secondary authentication factor is required if two-step authentication is enabled.
Elcomsoft Cloud Explorer fully supports two-factor authentication, allowing entering the 6-digit code generated by the secondary authentication factor.
Viewing, Searching and Analyzing the Data
Elcomsoft Cloud Explorer is not just about downloading information. It’s an all-in-one forensic tool allowing to view and analyze information obtained from the user’s Google Account.
The built-in viewer supports the most popular data formats used in the Google Account, parsing and displaying them automatically. The viewer includes instant filtering and quick search functionality. Finding a certain contact, message or Web site authentication credentials is easy: you just need to type part of the word you are looking for into the search box.
Forensic Gmail Acquisition
Elcomsoft Cloud Explorer offers fast offline access to Gmail communication history. The tool can download all or some email messages from the user’s Gmail account, allowing investigators specifying the exact period to acquire. Access to messages is implemented via Google’s proprietary Gmail API, which makes it possible to achieve acquisition speed of about 3000 email messages per minute (subject to message size and connection speed). Selective access to messages during the acquisition stage and unbeatable acquisition speed make Elcomsoft Cloud Explorer one of the fastest Gmail analytic toolkits on the market.
The built-in Gmail analyzer offers detailed searching and filtering through all downloaded messages, and provides valuable insight about downloaded messages. Thanks to the use of Google’s Gmail API instead of the commonly available POP3 or IMAP protocols allows the tool to distinguish between Read, Unread and Archived messages, recognize Gmail categories, labels, folders and conversation threads. Users can automatically filter messages that contain media attachments such as pictures, videos or documents. Complete message threads are instantly available as investigators search or browse through downloaded mail.
Enhanced Mapping Support for Location Data
Traditionally, location data could be obtained from Google in JSON format. While this is an industry-standard open data format, it provides little insight on which places the user actually visits. A JSON file hardly gets anything more than timestamped geographic coordinates. Even if those coordinates are pinned to a map, one still has to scrutinize the history to find out which places the user has actually gone to.
Google makes educated guesses on which places the users paid a visit. Based on big data analysis, Google knows (or makes a very good guess) when someone stays at a hotel, visits a restaurant or goes shopping. This information is also stored in the Google Account – at least if one has Location History turned on.
Elcomsoft Cloud Explorer can process Google’s Places and Routes, and can correctly identify, extract and process user’s navigation routes and places they visited (based on Google’s POI). This significantly improves readability of location data, providing a list of places (such as restaurants, landmarks or shops) instead of plain numbers representing geolocation coordinates.
Information Collected by Google
Google offers consumers a diverse range of services ranging from world’s most popular search engine to free email, free cloud storage and free Web browser with automatic sync across devices among other things. Google services run on a large number of desktop and mobile devices with literally billions of users.
All Google services can be personalized by registering for a Google Account. Once the user registers an account, Google starts aggregating information about the user’s online and offline activities. The system processes and analyzes communications, recommends places to visit and things to read. Comprehensive location history, Google searches ever fired on all stationary and mobile devices, Chrome bookmarks, passwords and browsing history, page transitions, travel data including air tickets, hotel stays and car rentals (even if not booked through Google itself), notes, pictures, contacts and a lot more data can be collected and stored by Google.
The various bits and pieces of data are kept in various places across Google servers. They are accessible via vastly different protocols, sharing one thing: they all require authentication via Google Account. While it is possible to download certain bits of information from Google, the data is offered in various formats (some of them binary) that can be difficult to view and hard to analyze in one place. Elcomsoft Cloud Explorer removes the hassle, not only downloading more data than provided by Google but offering the ability to view and analyze information without leaving the tool.
Elcomsoft Cloud Explorer is a more forensically sound method of extracting Google data compared to Google’s own service, Google Takeout. In most cases, extracting information using Elcomsoft Cloud Explorer does not trigger a user alert message and does not leave traces in the user’s Google account. However, when accessing certain types of data, the user might still receive a notification from Google alerting about a new system, new browser or new IP address login. At this time, predicting whether a notification alert will be triggered is not possible.
Reporting and Exporting
A wide range of HTML reports are available, including User Infо, History, Chrome, Dashboard, Media, Locations, Calendars, Notes, Chats, Google Keep, and Contacts. HTML reports can be easily printed or viewed in any Web browser. In addition, data can be exported into an Excel-compatible XLSX file for further processing and analysis.
We are constantly working to improve Elcomsoft Cloud Explorer. Early next year, we’ll be adding features to allow visualizing location data on the map, extract additional types of data from Google accounts, and access information backed up by Android devices. We’ll be adding support for Google Drive, downloading all types of files from Google’s cloud storage service.
The Media section will be extended with more/additional information on persons who are marked on photographs as well as support for video download. Token authentication is also in the plans. All this and much more is expected to arrive in later this year.
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