The Android ADB backup is one of the methods that is used to acquire evidence from unlocked Android devices. However, with this approach, investigators cannot extract applications of the latest version because their data is not included in the backup by the app provider. As a result, a parsed Android backup contains very few app artifacts.
Fortunately, there is a solution that is widely used in digital forensics – the APK downgrade procedure. It allows the creation of backups that contain app data that was previously inaccessible using the Android ADB backup method. By temporarily downgrading a selection of apps to older versions, investigators have the ability to extract valuable user and app data.
Oxygen Forensic® Detective v.14.0 implements a long-awaited Android app downgrade method allowing investigators to extract a variety of app data from a wide selection of unlocked Android devices.
This method is compatible with Android OS versions 5 to 11. However, there are certain exceptions, depending on the Android version:
- For devices running Android OS versions 6 to 9, a device restart will be required during the downgrade process
- For devices running Android OS 7, some applications may be logged out after data extraction.
Currently, Oxygen Forensic® Detective supports APK downgrade for 46 applications, including WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tinder, and many others. We will provide the full list of supported applications at the end of this article.
Overall, the APK downgrade procedure includes the following steps:
- Select which apps to downgrade from our list of supported applications
- Make a copy of the original app APK files and downgrade their copy versions
- Extract the app data
- Restore APK files to their original state
Note: This method does not change app user data, so it is safe to use.
Check our blog post for the detailed instructions on the APK Downgrade Method.