Computing, Health and Science
School of Computer & Security Science
It is hardly appropriate to call the devices many use to receive the occasional phone call a telephone any more. The capability of these devices is growing, as is the number of people utilizing them. By the end of 2009, 46.3% of mobile phones in use in the United States were reported to be smart phones (AdMob, 2010). With the increased availability of these powerful devices, there is also a potential increase for criminals to use this technology as well. Criminals could use smart phones for a number of activities such as committing fraud over e-mail, harassment through text messages, trafficking of child pornography, communications related to narcotics, etc. The data stored on smart phones could be extremely useful to analysts through the course of an investigation. Indeed, mobile devices are already showing themselves to have a large volume of probative information that is linked to an individual with just basic call history, contact, and text message data; smart phones contain even more useful information, such as e-mail, browser history, and chat logs. Mobile devices probably have more probative information that can be linked to an individual per byte examined than most computers -- and this data is harder to acquire in a forensically proper fashion. Part of the problem lies in the plethora of cell phones available today and a general lack of hardware, software, and/or interface standardization within the industry. These differences range from the media on which data is stored and the file system to the operating system and the effectiveness of certain tools. Even different model cell phones made by the same manufacture may require different data cables and software to access the phone's information. The good news is there are numerous people in the field working on making smart phone forensics easier. Already there is material available on how to conduct an examination on Blackberry phones and a growing number of resources about the iPhone. However, there is a new smart phone OS on the market named Android and it will likely gain in appeal and market share over the next year. While Android initially launched with only one phone on T-Mobile, phones are now available on Sprint, Verizon and AT&T as well.