How-Tos

How To Decrypt WhatsApp Messages With Oxygen Forensic Detective

Welcome to Oxygen Forensic Detective’s Knowledge Nuggets. In this video we’re going to discuss decrypting WhatsApp messaging.

Let’s go over a few very important points that you need to consider before analyzing WhatsApp. 

Number one: always place the device in airplane mode. This is important for many reasons, but the reason specific to WhatsApp is [that] during the extraction of WhatsApp, iCloud backup or Google Drive backup or the WhatsApp cloud, entering the phone verification code will disable the previous WhatsApp installation. The application on the device will then lose its verified status.

Number two: pay close attention to the last date WhatsApp was used. If the extraction is attempted after 45 days from the last time [the] WhatsApp account was online, all of the account data will automatically be wiped from servers and the account will be removed from all group chats it participated in.

Number three: disable the two-step verification if you can. 

Number four: decryption and the sender. WhatsApp cloud relies on the original sender’s devices to decrypt messages with end-to-end encryption. Thus, some messages may take hours or days to be decrypted, so you may want to do an additional extraction a few days from the first time you did it. 

Number five: always check for backups. If you receive a device with WhatsApp, but there’s no data, keep looking, your suspect may have deleted what was visible to you, but there may be backups. So check for Google backups, iCloud backups and the WhatsApp cloud backup itself.

The first way to extract data from WhatsApp is to do so by extracting the device with Detective. If the device with WhatsApp can be unlocked, check the status of the two-step verification, look in the settings and disable it if it’s enabled. 

If the device with WhatsApp can be unlocked, check if the messages are intact. If data was not wiped by the device owner, make a new cloud backup of the account manually. Switch the device to airplane mode, and make a record of the current date and time. 

If the device acquisition is possible, extract WhatsApp data directly from the device. 

Let’s say I’ve gone ahead and backed up my WhatsApp messages. My next step would be to extract the device. So let’s look and see what the results look like. 

We have WhatsApp Business, Messenger, and we already have some backups in this device. Here we can see account information, all contacts, our chats, any group chats, and additional information. 

Now let’s use our Cloud Extractor to extract additional data. Navigate to your backups, msgmessagestore.db. This is a database containing your messages and it’s encrypted, so you’ll need your token.

We can use our phone number or the cloud token. If you don’t have the token, use the phone number, but remember when you do this, you will be logged out of the WhatsApp account on the device, so make sure you have that extraction first. Keep in mind you’re going to need to turn airplane mode off so you can get the SMS from WhatsApp. 

Since we have selected the authentication type to be with SMS, it will send us a code or it can make a phone call. Here we can see, since I have made this request too many times today, I’ll have to go back and request the phone call. And I’ve just received notification that I’ve been logged out of my WhatsApp account on the device itself. 

Now we can open the WhatsApp backup and Oxygen Forensic Detective, and see how it parsed. Now that this database has been decrypted and parsed, you can see the information that’s available.

Now that we’ve decrypted some backup files, and you see just how easy it is to grab a token or authenticate through SMS, let’s walk through a new extraction. Here we’re going to use the cloud extractor to pull down all backups possible. 

Let’s go into the device first. Find all the credentials that we can, parsed from the device, and we’re going to input them here. Click on ‘New extraction’ and choose the WhatsApp application.

We’re going to select all and start with our username and password.

Next we’ll upload a key file. This key file will authenticate your WhatsApp Google backup. You can find this file in the following file path in an Android. If you’ve extracted the device information and you’ve navigated in the file section to find this key, save it out to your desktop so it’s easy to find, and import it here.

Put the phone number in. Remember that once it authenticates here with the phone number, you will no longer be able to access the account within the device. Meaning, if you authenticate using the phone number first, you will be kicked out of the device before you can authenticate with the QR code, and vice versa. And if you have a token, place it here.

Once this carries over to Detective, you can now see your entire WhatsApp account parsed. For more information on Oxygen Forensic Detective and for training opportunities, please contact us.

About Scar de Courcier

Scar de Courcier is Senior Editor at Forensic Focus.

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