More and more, we live in a mobile world. Computing that used to be done on personal computers is now being done on cell phones and tablets. These mobile devices are a wealth of information. You can learn a lot about an individual by examining their cell phone. You can find where they traveled, which social media accounts they use, who they talk to, who they message, and so much more.

Mobile forensics techniques are employed in both civil and criminal cases. In criminal cases, law enforcement is often looking into the phone for text messages, call history, location of a defendant, and to find out who the defendant called. Due to various constraints on time and resources, law enforcement often does not delve into all of the data on the phone. Typical “push button” techniques, where law enforcement just plugs in the phone to their forensics program, reveal only about 5% – 10% of the data on the phone. The remainder of the information is found in applications, which must be
manually processed by the forensic examiner.

In civil cases, forensic examiners often search for evidence of what a defendant was doing with their mobile device in the moments before a car crash. Forensic examiners also want to preserve text messages on phones for later use at trial. Sometimes forensic techniques are used to uncover evidence of digital theft, pictures of a dangerous condition at a building, or evidence that a defendant was actually on the job at the time of an accident. The information available from an expert analysis of a cell phone can be critical to the outcome of a civil case, but is often underutilized.