How Cell Data Extraction Works and How It Can Help Your Case
Your mobile devices can be an infinite source of information for those working in digital forensics. Cell phones remember every phone call you’ve ever made, every text you’ve ever sent, and even every website you’ve ever accessed. Moreover, forensic technology can provide the user’s location at any given moment and keep track of where they’ve been in the past.
Digital forensic experts have the ability to extract data from cell phones and use it to help police officers to solve cases. However, whether they’re looking for call logs or deleted texts, GPS coordinates, or browse websites, they need to make sure the data is extracted forensically. Otherwise, the law enforcement officer on the case will not be able to use it in a court of law.
Why and how to extract data forensically?
The way the data is extracted guarantees the information is accurate and admissible in a court of law. If the data is extracted otherwise, for example, by using software that changes the data during the extraction, it’s very possible for the evidence to be challenged by the opposing attorney and not be admissible.
So, the most important thing for digital forensic experts is to make sure the data will not be exposed to the risk of being changed when transferred from the mobile phone to the storage location.
How can this be avoided? By using extracting forensic software that will not alter the data during the extraction. The software needs to get deep into the file system and internal storage to make sure all necessary data is extracted.
Moreover, forensic tools should allow continuous flowing from the mobile phone to the storage location to guard the data from any outside interference. In other words, information is forensically extracted when it is an exact copy of the information on the electronic device.
Types of cell phone extraction
There are two main types of cell phone data forensic extraction: logical and physical.
Logical extraction is the process of retrieving data from a cell phone that is still intact and able to power on. This type of extraction can be done using special software designed to extract data from a cell phone.
Physical extraction is the process of retrieving data from a cell phone that has been damaged or destroyed. This type of extraction can be done by taking the cell phone apart and looking at the data stored in the phone’s internal memory.
Both logical and physical extraction have their own advantages and disadvantages. Logical data extraction is often faster and easier to do, but it can only be done if the cell phone is still working. Physical extraction is more time-consuming and difficult, but it can be done even if the cell phone is no longer working.
The type of cell phone data forensic extraction that is best for a particular case will depend on the nature of the case and the amount of data that needs to be extracted. In some cases, both logical and physical extraction may be necessary.
Cloud extraction – a game changer in mobile forensics
In recent years, there has been a debate over whether or not cloud extraction should be allowed as evidence in a court of law. Cloud extraction is the process of extracting data from a cloud-based storage service, such as iCloud or Google Drive.
There are a few different cloud data extraction tools that allow for this type of extraction, but the most common way is through a process called “jailbreaking.” Jailbreaking is the process of bypassing the security restrictions on a device so that you can access the root file system. This gives you access to the data stored in the cloud. Once you have access to the data, you can then use forensics tools to extract it. This data can then be used in a court of law to help prove a case.
There are many benefits to allowing cloud extraction as evidence in a court of law. First, it would allow police departments, law enforcement, and prosecutors to obtain evidence that they otherwise would not be able to obtain. Second, it would allow for a more efficient and effective investigation and prosecution of crimes.
However, there are also some potential drawbacks to allowing cloud extraction as evidence in a court of law. Some think it could potentially lead to the misuse of mobile forensics by law enforcement and prosecutors. They also claim it could lead to the disclosure of sensitive and confidential information.
At the end of the day, the decision of whether or not to allow cloud extraction as evidence in a court of law should be made on a case-by-case basis. In some cases, it may be the best and only option for obtaining evidence. In other cases, different types of data extraction can be more appropriate.
How is cell phone data accessed?
It all starts with cell phone towers and providers. Regardless of their name, they all keep track of your call logs, location, and who you texted to. Law enforcement agents can have access to this information without a search warrant because cell phone providers sell access to their databases and information like cell tower dumps. Individuals, however, can’t access this data regardless of the price they’re willing to pay.
Once the police or intelligence agencies get access to the cell phone data, digital forensic experts enter the scene to extract all the information they can use mobile device forensics. It’s important to preserve the extracted information to make sure it’s admissible in court.
The extraction works in the same way as for computers. The cell phone is connected to a lab computer, and the data is copied to a hard drive. The experts can copy anything from contacts and text messages to photos, videos, banking details, and GPS location history. The copied data depends on each case, but the focus is usually on historical data and external memory data.
During the extraction process, the mobile forensic experts will also try to find and recover deleted data, the success of this operation depends mostly on the cell phone’s operating system and the type of internal memory storage. They usually manage to recover all deleted data during their search.
Several high-profile cases have been solved with the help of cell phone data extraction that placed the suspects in incriminating locations and destroyed their alibis.
Post Update: The article was updated on November 28th, 2022, originally published on January 31st, 2019. It has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.