A Guide to Mobile Forensics

Mobile forensics is not, in fact, forensics on the go, but instead refers to a branch of forensic science that deals specifically with the ability to gather information about or from a collected mobile device. Also called mobile device forensics, the practice of obtaining information from mobile phones, blackberries, GPS trackers, and other devices is used to supplement evidence against a suspect, or help to determine who is guilty of the committed crime.

The mobile devices studied are obtained through a variety of means, including in the homes of suspects through a warrant, or at the scene of a crime or other points of interest for the investigators. It may even be given voluntarily to detectives for their perusal by anyone.

Because there is such a wide variety of mobile devices, there are a number of ways to access the information in them that can help investigators solve a case. A certain amount of information can be used merely by using the phone as the owner used it, and does not require any external technology. A number of these methods are listed below:

1. Checking calls and messages

Missed calls, frequently called numbers, text messages, and other forms of communication can easily be accessed from the phone’s interface. This information can also be useful because it includes exact times and dates of communications.

2. Photos and videos

Photos and videos found on mobile devices can be used to place suspects at a crime scene, or merely as evidence if they document the event in question.

Other information can be pulled from mobile devices that are more difficult to find. It may require external technology to extract the data, and can be difficult, depending on the device in question. Certain information can be pulled out of select devices that cannot be extracted from others, so it’s necessary for detectives to know their device and how it can be utilized. Some of this deeper information includes:

3. Deleted photos/videos/messages, etc.

Almost all deleted content can be pulled from the phone’s hard drive, given the proper equipment. This is useful if a suspect has tried to delete incriminating evidence.

4. Location

Almost all phones today include a GPS system, which can be used to track suspects and their past whereabouts with the right technology.

5. Internet and search histories

Deleted or otherwise, this information can be useful in tracking the suspect’s actions before an attack, or as evidence to suggest his bad intent.