In today’s digital world, mobile phones hold vital information. In addition to pictures, texts, and call logs, smartphones contain GPS and location data, app and browser histories, and even financial transaction records.
This data can be invaluable for various investigations and legal cases. For example, cell phone forensics services can extract this data to find out where someone went, who they spoke to, what they texted, and which apps they use.
Here is a closer look at what cell phone forensic services can do and how you can use the information they provide.
What types of cases require cellphone forensics?
85% of Americans use a smartphone, so data from cellphone forensics can be useful in all sorts of criminal and civil cases and private investigations. For example, this information can be helpful for investigations involving marital fidelity, divorce, child custody, and other domestic matters. Cellphone data can also aid background and security clearance checks. Finally, evidence related to business problems, such as fraud, IP theft, and non-compliance with workplace regulations, can often show up on mobile devices.
What process do cellphone forensics services use?
Most cellphone forensics investigations follow a similar process.
- After receiving the cellphone, forensics experts may switch it off or deactivate it to keep the owner from remotely deleting or altering the information.
- The investigator will then assess the phone and its contents. Once they understand what they are working with, they can source the necessary tools, programs, and protocols.
- Cellphone forensics experts duplicate the sim card’s contents and follow the necessary protocols to extract data from apps. Because of the fast-moving world of mobile app development, these protocols can change, so you need a qualified expert who is aware of the latest techniques.
- Forensics specialists can also look at the data backup system. Sometimes, a phone OS will automatically back up information, recording it even if the original photo, call record, or text message is deleted.
Though it is possible to use “logical extraction,” which involves moving the information to a computer via Bluetooth or wired connection, sometimes investigators will simply use “manual extraction” to look at the data on the phone and document it by hand.
How long does a cellphone forensics expert need to extract data?
Once they have possession of it, a qualified cellphone forensics specialist can extract all the necessary data from a device in four to eight hours. The length of the process can depend on whether or not the phone or particular apps are password protected.
Though cellphone forensics is quick compared to other aspects of an investigation or case preparation, experts may need to slow down the process to keep the information in its original form so that it is admissible in court.
What are the main concerns for cellphones forensics experts?
If the phone data is part of a criminal or civil case, the forensics staff must clearly establish a chain of custody and ensure no one uses the phone after its seizure. Chain of custody is essential for civil or criminal court cases. There may be exceptions to this rule if investigators look for data on cloud-based apps that the phone owner can access from other devices.
To keep someone from changing or erasing data, cellphone forensics staff may use a wired connection to extract data while keeping the phone in airplane mode. In some cases, a cellphone jammer, placed right next to the phone, can stop remote access using another device and a data signal.
Finally, investigators can rely on an air-gapped network for especially sensitive cases, which is not connected to any exterior data or internet service.
The importance of a qualified cellphone forensics service
Cellphone forensics services need the technical knowledge to extract data, bypass passwords, and find information that the owner may have deleted or hidden. In addition to tech skills, these pros need the knowledge to handle devices and get data using methods to ensure it is admissible in court.In the Carolinas, Barefoot PI can provide a full range of cellphone forensics services, as well as handle investigations involving computers, other digital devices, and social media accounts. In addition, our experts understand the latest data extraction protocols and can ensure chain of custody and prepare the data to serve as evidence in a court case.