3 Ways Cell Phone Forensics Analysts Preserve Digital Evidence

Published on June 8, 2021
Photo by Magnus Mueller from Pexels

Picture a scene from a CSI episode or a similar spinoff where you are at a crime scene. However, instead of dead things and dark lighting, you see a cell phone, hard drive, and monitor, among other unidentifiable objects. It looks like a rather innocent scene.

However, as the story unravels, forensics analysts inevitably find evidence of a possible crime. While most criminal investigations may not require computer forensics teams, they can be crucial in some cases.

Activities warranting forensics teams may include criminal activities like hacks, spoofed emails, fraud, personal data theft, and intellectual property destruction. Whatever the case, something as simple as a cell phone can leave breadcrumbs only a professional forensics expert can find.

How? You might ask. Keep reading to find out:

Investigation Initiation

The software, hardware, and other tools used to perform computer forensics analysis can be quite expensive but effective. For example, acquiring the most efficient Cell Phone Forensics Software for your company’s forensics team might not be very cost-effective. In most situations, it’s better to contract out forensics work to professionals.

In this post, we will share with you the top 3 ways forensics analysts preserve digital evidence to build cases of criminal activity:

●      Drive Imaging

Before a forensics team can start analyzing evidence, they need to image it first. This is a forensic process used by forensic analysts to create a bit-for-bit duplicate of damaged drives and phones. This forensic image can help you retain evidence to present for investigations.

You must also remember that even wiped drives can sometimes retain important recoverable data when analyzing a disk image. In the best cases, analysts can recover all deleted data and catalog it using forensic techniques.

Whenever your system is compromised, it is vital that you do nothing to avoid damaging the data stored in it. Ideally, you could isolate it from other systems to prevent connections into or out of it to mitigate the damage spread.

●      Hash Values

When a forensic analyst images a machine for analysis, it generates cryptographic hash values, including MD5 and SHA-1. The hash value verifies the integrity and authenticity of the disk image as an exact replica of the original media.

Therefore, hash values are vital, especially when admitting critical digital evidence into court. That’s because altering even a small bit of data could generate a different new hash value. This hash value and other metadata aren’t always visible in normal file explorer windows, but analysts can access them using special software. As such, if the hash values don’t match, the court may assume that someone tampered with the evidence.

●      Chain of Custody

Forensics analysts are also required to document all transfers of evidence and other media on Chain of Custody(CoC) forms when transferring the collected data when needed. They are also required to capture dates and signatures upon media handoff.

The CoC artifact demonstrates that the evidence has been under known possession since the time of creation. Therefore, any lapse in the CoC nullifies any legal value it may have, and thus the analysis. This includes any time the image might have been in an unsecured location.

Investigators may still analyze the results, but they may not hold up in court, especially when facing a reasonably tech-savvy attorney.

Need Help Preserving Evidence?

Hiring a professional forensics analyst with the right forensic software allows you to procure and preserve digital evidence properly. You may end up ruining the evidence if you choose to perform the process yourself, making it legally inadmissible in court.



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