How mobile phone forensics could affect the way you browse
Almost everybody, it seems, has a mobile device of some description. Whether their device cost them £10 or £1,000, they are a boon for households, teenagers, pensioners, and technophiles. In many cases, they have taken the place of a daily newspaper. For example, the physical version of The Guardian only sells 200,000 copies a day (down from 400,000 in the pre-internet era). Their website has more than ten times that number in visitors.
As well as that added convenience, it is possible to trace everybody’s mobile device due to its position. This hasn’t come unnoticed with the UK Government’s Investigatory Powers Act (from the 01 March 2017). It is also a gift for forensic assessment consultancies like ours. Therefore, tracing the scene of the crime could come from our social media profiles as well as call logs. The websites we visit (under RIPA) will be logged and retained for a year by telecommunications companies.
With mobile device forensics, we can check:
- Call Logs: from your telecommunications provider and usage from public WiFi points;
- Internal Storage: the files you have saved on your smartphone’s or tablet’s internal memory;
- External Storage: any files stored on external media, for example: Micro SD cards.
With call logs, the position of nearby mobile phone antennas isn’t always an accurate guide to anyone’s whereabouts. He or she could have mislaid the device and moved elsewhere. Or he or she might have more than one phone (or changed the SIM card).
In a Court of Law, all of the above could be used against a defendant. For example, any social media updates which could be party to a court case: such as being involved in extremist groups. The memory card could be used against, for example a sex offender, if s/he downloaded illegal pornographic images onto the card. His or her choice of apps could be used against them: for example, messaging apps or dating websites.
With the Investigatory Powers Act coming into force from 01 March this year, our industry could be pretty busy.
Forensic Assessment, 22 February 2017.