Introduction into Mobile Device Forensics

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Mobile devices or smartphones are modern devices for telecommunications and have become an indispensable part of people’s daily lives. Mobile phones are widely accepted and easily accessible to end-users. The dependence of users on the use of these devices is growing day by day. The average user owns several such devices and phone numbers. It is especially interesting that, regardless of the technical education of users about new technologies, users try to master all the available functionalities that the new devices provide.

Modern mobile phones have a large amount of user data, such as text messages, calls, photos, etc. These phones are also used for wireless internet access via 3G, LTE, 5G, or WiFi networks. In addition to this, they have various functionalities thanks to the integrated digital camera, microphone, GPS navigation, and similar. All the aforementioned items make the mobile phone a rich source of various data and information that can be used in criminal proceedings, as well as corporate protection.

Digital forensics is a computer science that involves methods of collecting, identifying, analyzing, interpreting, and documenting evidence that is acceptable to the court and can be found on all digital data carriers.

However, in addition to collecting forensically relevant digital data and building solid digital evidence of a computer incident or crime, for the justice system, the goal of digital forensic analysis is to permanently eliminate exploited vulnerabilities and never repeat an incident or illegal activity of this kind.

With the introduction of computer processing on other devices, such as GPS, automotive computers, truck black boxes, aircraft black boxes, mobile devices, tablets, drones, and many other devices, the field of digital forensics has expanded to the sub-disciplines of digital forensics. Some of the sub-disciplines of digital forensics are computer, network, mobile, social network, and GPS forensics.

Mobile device forensics is one of the branches of digital forensics. It deals with the collection, processing, and storage of digital records or digital evidence from mobile devices, all following the regulations of forensic science.

It is also important to note that the term mobile devices does not only mean mobile phones, which is the most common association. The term mobile devices, as part of the forensics of mobile devices, means all devices that have their internal memory and ability to communicate. Among other things, this includes PDAs, GPS devices, and tablets. In the following, we are talking exclusively about mobile phones, ie smartphones.

Smartphones are a part of a person’s everyday life. Their application is found in all spheres of life, whether for private or business purposes. The number of smartphone users worldwide today surpasses three billion and is forecast to further grow by several hundred million in the next few years. According to these figures, the smartphone industry is the fastest-growing consumer industry in history.

In addition to all the possibilities that these devices provide, the biggest advantage of these devices is also their basic feature, which is mobility. Today’s mobile devices are just as powerful as personal computers. They have a working memory of more than 1GB, an internal memory of more than 32GB, and use various wireless interfaces. Compared to traditional computers, there is a difference between three important facts:

  1. Rapid change of operating systems, standards and data storage technology
  2. A large number of different platforms for mobile devices
  3. Wireless communication technologies.

However, the rapid popularization of technology brings with it certain negative aspects. Precisely because of their mobility and dimensions, smartphones often become objects of alienation or loss. In most cases, smartphones are stolen only for resale and the data on them is not of interest, but there are cases when users have very sensitive and confidential data on their smartphones. Loss or alienation of such a device can have far more serious consequences for the user than the material cost itself. Also, due to the user’s habits of having their smartphones with them in various life situations, these devices very often become evidence in various proceedings.

The rapid development of portable means of communication and digital data generation, their decreasing prices and introduction into mass use, contribute on the one hand to more comfortable use, and on the other hand to the increasing possibility of manipulation and abuse. They are manifested through identity theft, wiretapping, interference, and a number of other illegal acts.

It should be noted that mobile devices can participate in a certain criminal offense in different ways, such as the target or target of the attack, the means of carrying out the attack, the connection with the crime, and as carriers of digital evidence of a crime.

Due to all the above, and how smartphones could become a legal source of information and evidence in various court proceedings, there is a need to develop forensics of mobile devices.

Software Developer at Ericsson. Short portfolio: https://draganavucic.carrd.co

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