is it possible to recover data from a locked phone?
March 16, 2014 3:55 PM   Subscribe

Some weeks ago, I changed my phone's password while half asleep and haven't been able to remember it since. I've since gotten a new phone, but I really want to get the pictures and videos that were on there. Is this possible?

1) this phone was old and nothing was saved to the cloud.

2) there is no micro SD card in there, everything is on the phone itself.

3) Type was LG Optimus.

4) tried a bunch of different passwords already

5) i've considered going to one of those "data recovery" places, but it seems sort of sketchy. Is it safe/ worthwhile?

Thoughts? I've considered hypnosis, but it is very expensive.
posted by windykites to Technology (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If the droid is rooted with usb debugging enabled, you can easily extract the password hash and salt to start cracking.

If the droid is not rooted, you'd need to build some custom hardware or buy a riff box + appropriate adapter (270$ + adapter) to get a memory dump, and then you can start the password cracking.

One non-shady company you could talk to about recovery is AccessData. The non-scammy search term you want for professional services is "mobile forensics." Note, you probably just want them to do the acquisition part, and then hand the password hash and salt off to a dedicated password cracking service.

Do you know how long the password was, roughly? Is it numeric or alphanumeric? Symbols? Anything you can likely remember can help to recover this sort of thing.
posted by bfranklin at 5:08 PM on March 16, 2014

If you have it linked to your google account you should be able to unlock it through that.
posted by sophist at 5:16 PM on March 16, 2014

This is probably a stupid question, but have you tried just connecting it to your computer with a USB cable? I just tested, and my phone doesn't require that I unlock the phone to mount it as a drive. I'm sure that this is behavior that I've enabled at some point, but if you've ever had the phone hooked up to your computer, it's worth a shot.
posted by MeghanC at 5:19 PM on March 16, 2014 [4 favorites]

If you bring it to the carrier's store (AT&T, Verizon, whatever), they should be able to help you.
posted by radioamy at 6:14 PM on March 16, 2014

I'm fairly certain of the length of the password as well as that it was numeric only.

The phone company wasn't able to offer any help other than a "hard reset", which he told me wasn't guaranteed to work, but was guaranteed to destroy the data on my phone.

I tried connecting it to my computer to no avail.

How would I access it through my Google accounts? It was connected to several.

Thanks all.
posted by windykites at 10:37 PM on March 16, 2014

it should have a SIM card, no? if so get a SIM card reader and that will allow you to access your files via computer usb connection.
posted by ps_im_awesome at 12:03 PM on March 17, 2014

I don't understand, are you saying that my pictures and videos are stored on the Sim card?
posted by windykites at 3:48 PM on March 17, 2014

They are not. The SIM card is a smart card with a very, very small amount of memory that holds information relevant to the core functions of connecting up to a wireless network. Your photos and videos are stored on internal flash memory circuits within the phone.

Have you investigated any of the recommended solutions? Also, what exact version of an Optimus do you have? There may be a couple other avenues of attack, but you need to be a bit more forthcoming about the details.

How many digits was your pin? I can estimate cracking time if you can extract the password hash.
posted by bfranklin at 5:18 PM on March 17, 2014

A lengthy Google search revealed an Android app that I was able to install on my phone from my computer in order to override the password. Thanks for the term "mobile forensics", which got me searching in the right direction.
posted by windykites at 7:35 PM on March 17, 2014

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