What Can Cell Phone Forensics Find?

It is vital to understand that investigators can access the data on your cell phone. Everything someone does on a mobile device is subject to discovery.

The mobile forensics process aids law enforcement, private investigators, and cybersecurity investigators. It also helps the military find information about an individual.

  • Law enforcement uses data from cell phone forensics to substantiate claims and charges in criminal matters.
  • Private investigator cell phone forensics aid in civil suits.
  • The cybersecurity industry uses cell phone forensics to find breaches in company security.
  • Military investigations can reveal leaks of secrets and expose spies.

In this post, we’ll explain the types of evidence that can be found on your cell phone and give examples of how that evidence can be used.

How the Cell Phone Forensics Process Works

The mobile forensics process involves a standard set of steps that all investigators use. They must seize the phone, protect the data during transport, extract it, and then analyze it.

  1. Seizure of the phone. Seizing the phone in question is essential because many files are stored within it. While the service provider can provide call logs, the phone itself can contain pictures, apps, and email addresses. Police and criminal investigators will not need a warrant to break into a phone, but they will need a subpoena or a court order.
  2. Protect the data. After a seizure, the phone must be isolated from any network to prevent it from sending out signals. This way, investigators have a clear understanding of what was on the phone at the time of the seizure. Isolation of the phone also prevents it from sending a triggering signal to any explosive device.
  3. Extract the data. Getting to the data means finding a way past the password function or fingerprint identifiers. Many times, additional barriers arise while attempting to access individual apps on the phone. Investigators make a copy of the sim card and use the copy to examine the data so that the original remains intact. Deleting your text messages does not erase them, so these text messages and other pieces of information can be recovered.
  4. Analyze the information. Forensics experts use software tools such as AccessData, Sleuth Kit, and EnCase. Additional tools can help establish a timeline so investigators can match phone conversations to corresponding events.

File Types Uncovered by Cell Phone Forensics

Investigators examine more than just records of what calls were made on a seized phone. They use a wide range of data to put together a timeline and show how all the data supports their claims or charges.

Here are some files they will look at:

  • Pictures and videos
  • Text messages
  • Photo messages (multi-messaging service)
  • Call logs (received, dialed, missed)
  • Contacts
  • Emails (depending on device)
  • Internet history
  • Social media

When to Use Cell Phone Forensics Processes

You need cell phone forensics when you want to establish a connection between two individuals. Images may be used to support allegations such as child pornography access or extra-marital infidelity.

In addition, mobile phone forensics tools can reveal social media accounts that will contain information about the user. 

Here’s a rundown of cases that can require the use of cell phone forensics:

  • Criminal law cases where timelines, associates, and whereabouts need to be established
  • Family lawsuits and conflicts (to discover assets in a divorce proceeding or support abuse charges). Cell phone forensics data is admissible in court as long as the proper procedures have been followed.
  • Employment disputes regarding discrimination, harassment, or wrongful termination
  • Intellectual property disputes where you need to prove an individual had access to the intellectual property in question
  • Business contract disputes

Hiring an Expert for Cell Phone Forensics

Look for an investigator that offers a free initial consultation. You should give enough detail for the investigator to determine whether cell phone forensics could aid the case. You’ll also need to know how much you will be spending during the investigation.

Phone forensics may only take 24 hours, but this can extend to several days if there is a lot of data to process. If the investigator works on an hourly rate, ask the investigator to provide you with an estimate on how long the investigation should take to complete. This will help you to plan for the total cost of the forensics process.

Here at Barefoot Private Investigations, we provide cell phone forensic services designed to meet your needs. Our services are delivered with full transparency and at a reasonable rate. Reach out to our team to discover more and to tell us what you need.

Cell Phone Forensics Services Provide a World of Information

A cell phone can reveal a great deal of information. However, this information can be difficult to access without the proper techniques and expertise. Professional forensics services can access this information and data, even if it seems lost or has been deleted from the device.

For more information on cell phone forensics, please get in touch or check out our resources page.

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