How Cell Phone Forensics Extract Information from Mobile Devices

Crimes in today’s day and age are not exclusive to technology. The crime detection and legal bodies are presented with the challenge of tracing and extracting information from mobile devices such as cell phones, tablets, laptops, and other wireless electronics.

These devices carry substantial data and insights into the owner’s transactions, location, and interactions, which can be used as forensic evidence in the court of law.

The blog covers the ways that cell phone forensic take various approaches to uncover such data which may be protected by passwords and encryption to acquire the necessary details.

While undertaking such a process in mobile forensics, the first step is to extract information using a range of techniques and tools used by the forensic examiner or specialist to get access to the device’s stored data.

There is also the use of cell phone forensics software and other approved gadgets that make the process relatively easier.

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We will address the three top methods used to acquire access to such evidence, which are physical, logical, and filing system methods of extraction.

All of them are used under different circumstances and have their sets of pros and cons, so it is up to the examining forensic officer and the team to determine which method is the most suitable in an ongoing case.

Physical Extraction

Physical extraction is the most frequently used method for evidence extraction which involves the experts making an exact replica of the first device, which saves all the potential information that could turn out to be evidence.

They can sift through deleted files and folders once they start finely combining data for evidence collection. The only downside of this technique is that it is relatively complex and time-consuming to carry out compared to the other methods.

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Logical Extraction

The logical extraction method creates a copy of the data on the mobile device, which is far less complicated than the physical technique.

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This method uses the provisions for data transfer made by the device manufacturer, i.e. synchronizing terminals with other devices such as a laptop to gain access to the user data through the OS.

However, as simple as it is, the data extracted, too, is not as elaborate as the physical method.

File System Extraction

This method is used in most cases unless there is a need to dig deep and find deleted folders. Experts use it to gather all data for the device’s filing system.

Such data retrieval is less intricate than the physical method but does not get access to hidden files.

For example, in the case of an Android device,  technicians use the help of the Android Device Bridge to retrieve pieces of deleted data that have not been removed from the device but are marked to be overwritten with new information.

As long as these data fragments are temporarily available, they can be accessed to extract evidence.

Conclusion:

To understand which of the three methods would fit a case, the examiners would have to take stock about the priority of the case, time sensitivity, degree of expertise required to extract data, and whether any deleted data needs to be retrieved.

If a device contains volatile data, data from third-party apps, and other hidden information, the first method would be most useful.

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Harinder Kaur has completed her M.tech in Computer Sc. & engg. from Kurukshetra University. She has done research on Mobile ad hoc networks as project fellow at SMVD university. She is currently working on her new startup dealorcoupons.com

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