What is Mobile Forensics?
Mobile forensics is a specialized field within digital forensics that involves the retrieval and analysis of digital evidence or data from mobile devices under controlled and forensically sound conditions. While the term “mobile device” typically refers to mobile phones, it also encompasses other digital devices with internal memory and communication capabilities, such as PDA devices, GPS devices, and tablet computers.
The recognition of mobile phones and devices being used in criminal activities has been established for some time, but the forensic examination of these devices emerged as a distinct field in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The increasing availability of phones, especially smartphones, and other digital devices in the consumer market led to a demand for specialized forensic techniques that were not covered by traditional computer forensics methods.
Mobile devices store various types of personal information, including contacts, photos, calendars, notes, SMS, and MMS messages. Additionally, smartphones may contain video files, email correspondence, web browsing history, location information, and social networking messages and contacts.
Forensic investigations related to mobile devices present both evidential and technical challenges. For instance, determining the precise location from which a mobile phone call originated is often difficult, although it is possible to approximate the cell site zone. Moreover, as technology rapidly evolves, original equipment manufacturers frequently modify mobile phone form factors, operating system file structures, data storage methods, peripherals, and connectors. Consequently, forensic examiners must employ distinct processes tailored to mobile forensics rather than relying solely on computer forensics techniques. The storage capacity of mobile devices also continues to expand to meet the demand for more powerful and feature-rich devices.
The constantly evolving nature of mobile devices and their usage patterns presents ongoing challenges. For example, hibernation behavior, where processes are suspended when the device is powered off or idle while remaining active, can complicate forensic examinations.
Due to the diversity of mobile devices and their unique characteristics, a wide range of tools and methods exist for extracting evidence. No single tool or approach can effectively acquire all the evidence from every device. Therefore, it is essential for forensic examiners, particularly those aiming to be expert witnesses in court, to undergo comprehensive training. This training helps examiners understand the capabilities and limitations of each tool and method, ensure adherence to forensic soundness standards, and meet legal requirements such as the Daubert or Frye standards.
Encryption poses a significant challenge to forensic investigations as it can hinder the initial examination of where relevant evidence may be located using keywords. The introduction of laws compelling individuals to disclose encryption keys is relatively recent and continues to be a topic of controversy.
The right to privacy is an area of digital forensics that remains largely undecided by courts. In the United States, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) imposes limitations on the ability of law enforcement or civil investigators to intercept and access evidence. The ECPA distinguishes between stored communication, such as email archives, and transmitted communication, like VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). Obtaining a warrant for accessing transmitted communication, which is considered more invasive to privacy, is more challenging. The ECPA also impacts the ability of companies to investigate the computers and communications of their employees, and the extent to which such monitoring is permissible is still a subject of debate.
Similarly, Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights establishes privacy limitations similar to those in the ECPA. It restricts the processing and sharing of personal data within the European Union and with external countries. In the United Kingdom, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act governs the ability of law enforcement to conduct digital forensics investigations.
These legal frameworks and debates surrounding privacy rights in digital forensics highlight the complex and evolving nature of balancing privacy protections with the needs of law enforcement and investigations.
What We Do?
We follow the ACPO Guidelines to provide you with a detailed and thorough report, our computer forensics technicians carry out a detailed analysis of any digital devices which where possible can uncover any information that can be vital to a case or ongoing prosecution. This may include internet and user activity, file access and modification dates, a detailed email history and chronology, images and video, and deletion history. Our findings can then be used in the form of an expert report to support any formal case in court.
- Collection and preservation
- Analysis and interpretation.
- Documentation and presentation.
Our expertise has been used in many investigations!
- Employee misconduct
- Intellectual property
- Identity theft
- Cyber Bullying
- Smartphone deleted data
- Smartphone searches
- PDA investigations
- Cloud data recovery and search
Don’t know where to start?
Start with an email, why not drop us a line and we will contact you to discuss your investigation.
How to contact us
Tel: +44(0)1634 672677