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Burner Breaker provides the key to unlock disposable cell phones

Burner phone users can no longer hide critical evidence from investigators

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Burner Breaker is capable of accessing thousands of phones that were previously locked.

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The following is paid content sponsored by Burner Breaker

By Sean Curtis for Police1 BrandFocus

Many people have mobile devices now and these items can contain incredibly valuable evidence, even passively, of locations, crimes committed, photographs, videos and more.

The capabilities of these devices have caused some to reverted their technology to pre-paid, or “burner phones.” These recently evolved as a cheaper solution to mobile communications.

The problem was that burner phones lack of smart technologies revealed a weakness in modern forensic techniques; their “dumb” nature meant they were nearly impossible to crack—until now.

IDENTIFYING THE PROBLEM

U.S.-based Susteen identified the issue and started working on a solution in 1992.

The company’s first innovation to solve the problem is its Data Pilot. This program eventually expanded into a suite of options but the basic abilities started with backing up cell phones and transferring data.

The FBI approached the company and asked about creating a forensically sound version, meaning one which could be documented, recreated and accepted in a court of law, said Jeremy Kirby, director of sales for Susteen. This resulted in a product called Secure View.

Later iterations of Secure View were paired by a physical robot with a software suite. This was called Secure View Ultimate. The robot was used to enter passcodes and proudly calls this software/hardware combination Burner Breaker. Burner Breaker is being built in the United States by Laser Industries, a major Aerospace part manufacturer

Burner Breaker is capable of accessing thousands of phones that were previously locked, including the data inside which could be essential to an officer’s investigation.

This includes phones purchased at Wal-Mart, 7-11, Target, and many other distributors such as phones made in China and South America. It can even access Android phones.

“It is literally the only tool anywhere in the world capable of breaking into these burner phones,” Kirby said.

HOW IT WORKS

How does Burner Breaker accomplish the previously impossible?

To break into any phone, a user must bypass the security features set up front by the user. Namely, this includes a numbered password combination or a pattern traced on the surface of the phone.

Initial attempts to enter burner phones often failed because there was no way to interface with them, their ports were not advanced like a modern USB, Kirby said. But Burner Breaker’s software suite, paired with a physical robot, is capable of cracking phones. The robot/software can also break into even the newest Android Phones like the Galaxy S7 and more.

The robot consists of a base and simulated finger which manually enters codes and patterns in a phone, attempting to find the right sequence. This is done with an algorithm designed to attempt the most commonly used codes first, shortening the average entry time.

By placing a phone in the robot, an agency can try up to 1,000 password combinations per day, roughly one per minute, Kirby said.

“Any phone is within reach within three or four days,” he said.

Even burner phones have security features such as a lockout after too many entry attempts. Kirby explained that the software of Burner Breaker was set up to allow entry attempts of the code and then shut off the phone if the code was not immediately accepted. The software then restarts the phone and allows for another fresh attempt.

“This basically gets you in about 60 PIN codes per hour,” he said.

BENEFITS OF BURNER BREAKER

One of the critical benefits of Burner Breaker is that an agency’s forensic unit will no longer have to JTAG your way into phones, Kirby said. JTAG refers to Joint Action Test Group, or a way to access processing chips through ports.

Kirby explained said another benefit is that agents of law enforcement can “set it and forget it,” meaning put the phone in the robot and let it work away while resources are tasked to other matters

In addition, Burner Breaker is prepared for future changes in cell phones. Kirby warned that Android is starting to encrypt their chips, and that with failed attempts detected, the information can shut down and be inaccessible.

“Burner Breaker prevents this from becoming necessary by bypassing the entry code,” he said.

Technology is an ever-shifting target in the world of law enforcement and Burner Breaker is one tool which can be levied against the tide. By gaining access to a myriad of phones previously unavailable, police agencies can greatly increase their investigation capability as well as their conviction rate.

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