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Chinese Cell Phone & Digital Forensics

Written by DFM Team


Chinese Cell Phones & Digital Forensics

In this article, we explain why investigators need to understand the macro trends in the cell phone industry driving the incorporation of more Chinese chipsets in phones and the challenges that they present to examiners. We also lift the lid on Tarantula, a new analysis system developed to analyze problematic Chinese “white box” cell phones and, increasingly, the legitimate branded phones based on Chinese chipsets.


Hercules had to defeat a hydra as one of his 12 labours. It was a monster with 9 heads, and if Hercules smashed one head, two more would take its place. For mobile forensic investigators, Hercules’ hydra takes the form of Chinese cell phones. More specifically, knock-off phones, known internationally as “white-box” or “clone-phones” and “Shanzhai” (pirated goods) in China, have taken world markets by storm. In 2011, over 800 million cellular mobile devices in close to 40,000 models were manufactured in China. Approximately half of those were exported to world markets, comprising of more than 30% of the global cell phone market.




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