How do we comprehend Smart Phone Digital Forensics ?

Smartphone Digital Forensics from Salvationdata
Men & Mobile decryption Smartphone Digital Forensics from Salvationdata
Men & Mobile decryption

The Background of the development of Smart Phone 

With the rapid development of network communication technology, mobile phones are playing a more and more essential role in people’s daily life.

According to statistical information, the number of smartphone users in the world nowadays is 3.8 billion, which means 48.37% of the worldwide population possess their smartphones. The figure has been being up considerably since 2016 when there were only 2.5 billion users, 33.58% of that year’s global population.

Back in 2012, desktop OS take over 80% of the OS market share worldwide (Windows 7 and Windows XP being the most popular systems). In 2017, only less than 40% of the share come from desktop operating systems. Meanwhile, the share of Android, iOS, and Windows phone devices increased sharply. As of Jan 2021, the market share of mobile devices reached 56.6%, much higher than desktop OS.

Operating System Market Share Worldwide from Jan 2012-Mar 2021

Operating System Market Share Worldwide from Jan 2012-Mar 2021

What does Smart Phone stand for in current society?

In the meantime, the smartphone is gradually replacing the original traditional phone which was just a simple communication tool. It has become an intelligent data terminal with more features.

A smartphone can store tens of thousands of data that cover almost every aspect of people’s lives. It can be used to save several types of personal information such as contacts, photos, calendars and notes, SMS, and MMS messages.

Besides, it may also contain videos, emails, web browsing information, location information, and social networking messages and contacts.

Following is a non-exhaustive list of information that may reside on a smartphone:

  • Incoming, outgoing, missed call history
  • Phone book or contact lists
  • SMS text, application-based, and multimedia messaging content
  • In addition to Pictures & videos, Audio files are also included
  • Internet browsing history, content, cookies, search history, analytic information
  • To-do lists, notes, calendar entries, ringtones
  • Documents, spreadsheets, presentation files, and other user-created data
  • Passwords, passcodes, swipe codes, user account credentials
  • Historical geolocation information, mobile phone tower connected location data, Wifi info
  • User dictionary content
  • Data from various installed apps
  • System files, usage logs, error messages
  • Deleted data from all of the above

Digital Crime by Smart Phone

However, with the popularity of smartphones, smartphone crimes are increasing. Criminals are taking advantage of smartphones to conduct crimes related to fraud, gambling, pornography, drugs, sometimes even terror activities.

A smartphone can be tied to a crime in many ways, for example:

  • It works extremely well as the tool for connection of committing a crime
  • inside an offense, it could be a storage system for extracting information.
  • It could also contain information about a victim.

Computer with data

Therefore, as a branch of digital forensics relating to the recovery of digital evidence or data from a mobile device under forensically sound conditions, smartphone forensics plays an important role in cracking down on mobile phone crimes and providing criminal evidence.

Challenges in Smart Phone forensics

However, though smartphone forensics is vital in digital forensics, it is also a very difficult task accompanied by many forensic challenges, as listed below

1. Identification Of the Smart Phone:

At the very beginning of smartphone digital investigation, the identification of the phone comes first. Keeping in mind that there are many smartphone manufacturers, identification of the phone by merely viewing is impossible. In spite of the fact that all the mobile operating systems function in the same way, they greatly vary in the way they store the data, security settings, access rights, and other settings. Besides, A single model can be marketed by the manufacturers under different names.

Furthermore, plenty of Chinese cell phones replicate the appearance from several known manufacturers but deploys a different OS instead of their original one. Unless and until the battery of the particular phone is removed, the investigators or examiners cannot unveil the right type of software, even the mobile itself.

What’s good is that, as an all-in-one and user-friendly system, SPF Pro is capable of automatically helping examiners identify the model of smartphone and choose the best solution for extracting file system, physical, and logical data from several mobile OS including Android, iOS, Symbian, Blackberry, and so on, especially, focusing on 99% of Chinese brand mobiles.

Smartphone digital forensics from Salvationdata
SPF Pro – SmartPhone Forensics Professional

2. Password security and encryption

Security has been a focus, especially for smartphone manufacturers over the past few years. The issue remains a priority as personal privacy becomes more and more important to their markets.

As a result, the methods used to protect and encrypt data vary widely from device to device and operating system to operating system.

Extracting data from an unlocked smartphone is a relatively simple task. However, accessing the locked smartphones can be challenging.

Manufacturers are developing passwords and encryption schemes to make it more and more difficult for law enforcement officials to access the data. As soon as security vulnerabilities are discovered, they’ll be patched and reinforced.

Encryption technology is being continuously strengthened and it has become a hinder to digital investigations especially for law enforcement.

Under the circumstances, Smartphone digital forensics tools from SalvationDATA are upgrading the corresponding technology to keep meeting the challenge.

Advanced smartphone digital forensics tool, SPF PRO is showing off its extraordinary data access capacity for digital examiners by using physical mirroring.

3. Anti-forensic techniques

Due to the privacy that can be a public concern, some app developers are trying to thwart law enforcement.

Criminals use legitimate apps to hide their criminal activities. Anti-forensics techniques attempt to bypass mobile forensics inspectors by hiding data, data obfuscation, data forgery, and secure erasure. As these products become more widely available and their prices reach a level acceptable to the average user, their use is likely to increase dramatically.

As a result, it will also make it more and more difficult for law enforcement officials to access the data.

Even so, through sufficient training for digital forensics, our law enforcement officers would be able to overcome most of the cases in digital crime. In particular, for Those who have a general education in law enforcement or criminal justice who want to learn more about smartphone forensics, the training comes easier.

Owing to the overall support of law enforcement, SalvationDATA also prepares a full range of training courses and various methods of digital forensic investigators.

Stand up to the smart phone digital forensics

Now that we’ve got a full understanding of the status of smartphone and smartphone digital forensics, it’s time for us to get ourselves ready to respond to digital crime. Just stay tuned with SalvationDATA and keep yourself equipped since you know what’s helpful for your investigations!


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