Cell phone forensic technology is the scientific process of recovering digital information from a cellular phone using scientific accepted techniques under controlled laboratory conditions. It is a complex and highly technical discipline and requires highly trained professionals. These professionals are called cell phone forensics investigators, cellular phone engineers or cellular phone technicians.
The first steps in the cell phone forensics process involves establishing control and gathering data. The control is established by obtaining permission from the cellular phone owner through a series of means. The first step is acquisition. In this step, the owner is given the right to authorizing a test for digital data and voice activity from their cellular phones. If consent is not provided, physical access to the cellular phones is required.
The purpose of this examination is two fold; one to establish control and obtain evidence on the owner of the cellular phones, and two to discover and record all deleted and privileged files. Physical access is accomplished by seizing the cellular phones and the digital data contained on the devices. After successful acquisition of the cellular devices it is then necessary to process the data. This can be done through data recovery or data extraction.
Data recovery involves the efforts to retrieve and recover any lost or deleted files from the cellular phones. When digital evidence of a crime is collected from cell phones it is important to have the necessary tools to properly preserve the digital evidence. Retrieving and preserving digital evidence is extremely important when it comes to a legal investigation and court proceedings. Digital evidence can be used against a suspect in a criminal investigation or in a court proceeding. When proper cell phone forensics techniques are utilized an effective legal process can be pursued.
There are a number of different methods that are used through cell phone forensics for the extraction of files and data. Among these techniques include use of passwords and code keys, extraction of passwords from memory cards, cracking of the SIM card and wiping of the phone’s memory. Other techniques used in enforcement of password protected cell phones involve use of imaging tools to capture pictures of all keys used in a cellular device or passcodes used to access applications.
In order to preserve and collect digital evidence it is necessary to have access to the right equipment. One of the most valuable forms of evidence preservation is the storage of cell phone forensics evidence in a reliable and accessible format. Among the best forms of digital evidence storage and preservation is digital video. Video surveillance and digital video systems have provided law enforcement officials and other emergency response personnel the ability to capture certain moments of a crime scene quickly and easily. With the proper tools, a state of the art laboratory can even restore certain deleted scenes.
There are many new digital forensics technologies currently being utilized in the area of mobile devices. One such emerging technology involves the use of an infrared digital camera to view a live scene with the ability to pan and zoom. Another application of the technology is in the area of digital fingerprinting. Digital fingerprints can be created using either a touch screen or a physical keypad. The state of the art lab currently possesses the technology to scan a persons finger to create a virtual fingerprint.
In the realm of forensics and mobile device acquisition, there are no limits to what can be done. If there is an outstanding case file, there is likely a way for a lab to acquire and preserve the evidence for future analysis. This new era of specialized laboratories and acquisition capabilities is only beginning to blossom. As the world becomes more interconnected, the scope of crime investigation and the expertise needed to solve crimes will continue to expand.