Initialization vectors: February 2024

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

What is cacheV0.db and why are there only images in it?

Last week the awesome Heather Charpentier (my co-host on the Digital Forensics Now Podcast) and myself were working on building a parser for Google Chats in iOS. As we were looking for the location where images were share via the chat we came across a SQLite database called cacheV0.db in the /private/var/mobile/Data/Application/GUID/Library/Caches/ directory.

The cacheV0.db file in context.

Even though we found the images tied to the chats somewhere else in the application directory, this database had a smaller resolution copy of all the files that were sent via the chats to include user avatars that were not shared via user attributable action. The database also contained images that were from deleted chats that did not remain in the folder where the chat images are kept.

It seems this database is similar in function to the Glide Image Manager Cache functionality found in some Android apps where this functionality generates and keeps a thumbnail of every image that has been rendered by the app's interface. In this context rendering means showing the image to the user within the interface of the application. You can watch a video detailing the Glide Image Manager Cache functionality and forensic significance here:

The cacheV0.db is comprised of only one table called cache that contains only two fields called id and data. The id field is of integer type and it is sequentially incremented starting at number one. The data field is of blob type and contains the thumbnail like images mentioned previously.

The cache table.

Some details about how the database is implemented per our observations:

  • We were not able to find any direct connection between the images in the database and the database that contains the chats. It seems it behaves like Glide were the images in the database are used by the application for rendering purposes but are separate from the actual images being send and received in chat interactions.
  • We knew deleted images where in the database because Heather had created the dataset and had extensive documentation of her process. We knew what images we were missing form the main image directory and we found those copies in the database.
  • We found another cacheV0.db database in the Google Voice app in iOS. It would seem this is a Google used image rendering managing process. We have not seen this database, so far, outside of Google apps.

In summary it seems this database:

  • Is used to keep and manage images used by the application for rendering to the user.
  • Keeps copies of images after the source files have been deleted.
  • It is used by Google applications.

If anyone comes across additional implementations of this database do share your findings.
In order to automate the parsing of these databases in iOS I have created the Image CacheV0 parser in iLEAPP.

iLEAPP parser for cacheV0.db

iLEAPP is a free, Python based, open-source, community driven platform for the parsing of iOS extractions for digital forensics. You can find the tool here:

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