Mobile Devices Are A Forensic Data Recovery Minefield

Forensic data recovery services have played a vital role in sending numerous criminals to prison; dangerous criminals, such as child pornographers and murderers, and white collar criminals, such as fraudsters and embezzlers.

Mobile Devices Are A Forensic Data Recovery Minefield

For example:

  • Matt Baker was convicted of murdering his wife after several years of convincing the world that she had killed herself. He must have aroused suspicion though, because his computer was analysed and forensic investigators found that he had searched for information on ‘overdosing on sleeping pills’, which just happened to be how his wife died.
  • Krenar Lusha was convicted after forensic investigators found that he’d been searching for information on how to make bombs and suicide belts. This led to a search warrant, which yielded all the ingredients necessary to blow a city block to kingdom come (or thereabout). He was also an idiot when it came to subterfuge, as he would regularly describe himself as a terrorist during online chats and expressed his desired to commit mass genocide.

(Both examples from brainz.org)

Computers are so last decade

Forensic data recovery specialists have had to adapt their investigative techniques as mobile technology, including mobile phones, GPS and tablet devices, has become more prevalent. The mobile phenomenon has led to some unique challenges that need to be overcome.

For example:

Operating systems, file structures, data storage systems and the like are constantly changing, which means that recovery specialists have to continually adapt their techniques (Wikipedia). What’s more, no two mobile manufacturers use the same systems and, to make things even more complicated, different models from the same company can vary immensely.

There are also different storage components, such as SIM cards, phone memory, SD card, and memory cards.

Another problem is when the device in question is so old that it is no longer in production (Oxygen Software – Forensic Focus). One of the biggest problems here is that old phones use different, usually custom, connection cables.

On the other hand, David Bennetts (Forensic Focus) says that retrieving data from old phones is actually quite simple compared to the complicated devices available today. According to Bennetts, one of the biggest problems in the mobile forensic data recovery world is the fact that there is no all-encompassing software solution. To offer an up-to-date and comprehensive service, recovery specialists must use a range of software applications, which are not cheap.

State correctional department often can’t afford to keep with the software developments and this is why forensic data recovery is often outsourced.

The problem with outsourcing forensic data recovery is maintaining the chain of custody and preservation of evidence. Criminals can walk free if there is even one tiny flaw in the system, which means that companies have to be well-versed in evidence processing procedures and their integrity needs to be beyond reproach.

Mobile forensic data recovery is becoming increasingly important in an increasingly mobile world. If law enforcement wants to keep up with criminal master minds (and not so master minds), they need to ensure that they stay on top of this rapidly evolving field.

Featured images:
  • License: Creative Commons image source

Sandy Cosser writes for Data Detect, a data recovery specialist in Australia which offers a range of services, including forensic data recovery.

Author: Tech Poster

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