Mobile forensics to be shaped by smartphones, tougher encryption

  • Critical for law enforcement community and enterprises to invest in proper training
  • Devices and the data they contain to take centre-stage in civil and criminal investigations

Mobile forensics to be shaped by smartphones, tougher encryptionRISING smartphone adoption, uncertain legislation and tougher encryption are among the trends that are going to define the mobile forensics space in the next 12 months, according to Cellebrite, which provides mobile forensic and data transfer solutions.
The predictions come from a number of prominent experts within law enforcement and industry analysts familiar with mobile forensics, Cellebrite said in a statement.
“From the increasing use of mobile evidence to challenges stemming from the rise in tougher encryption methods, there are a number of areas that will demand the attention of mobile forensics professionals in the year ahead,” said Dave Golding, general manager of Cellebrite APAC Pte Ltd.
“As the industry continues to evolve, it will be critical for the law enforcement community, as well as the enterprise, to invest in proper training and ensure that their budgets allow them to meet the growing demand for comprehensive device analysis and data extraction,” he said.
Experts Cellebrite has engaged with have highlighted the following trends as the most critical for investigative and legal professionals to prepare for the year ahead:
Smarter phones mean tougher encryption
“Expect to see more encryption of data on smartphones to protect personal privacy and corporate data, which will make forensic examination more challenging,” said Eoghan Casey, founding partner at Caseite, which specialises in complex digital forensics, incident response and cyber security risk management.
In 2013, look for mobile forensics tools to continue to find ways to bypass a greater number of passwords and device locks, as well as address advanced encryption technology, Cellebrite said.
Investigators can’t put all their eggs into one mobile operating system
Though Android took 75% of the market in the third quarter of 2012, for mobile forensics professionals, market share isn’t everything.
As Paul Henry, security and forensics analyst at vNet Security, noted: “While Android is the predominant operating system, the bulk of the bandwidth is still taking place on Apple devices, making them critical to many investigations.”
Despite BlackBerry’s decline in recent years, Carney said: “Their popularity for over a decade will make them an important legacy device pertinent to investigations for years to come.”
Windows 8 is the wildcard
Notwithstanding all the attention garnered by Android and Apple, the real wildcard for the next 12 months will be the rise of Microsoft in the mobile device market, Cellebrite said.
While questions remain regarding how prevalent Microsoft devices will become, Cellebrite’s panel of experts predicts that the need for mobile forensic tools providing support for Windows 8 will increase.
Mobile devices advance as witnesses
Look for mobile devices and the data they contain to take centre-stage in both civil and criminal investigations in the year ahead.
According to Heather Mahalik, mobile forensics technical lead at Basis Technology: “Now, more than ever before, e-discovery experts need comprehensive training in order to ensure the proper extraction of all relevant data from mobile devices.”
The regulatory and legislative landscape remains uncertain
“Lawmakers and judges are looking at cellphones much more critically than they did computers,” said Gary Kessler, associate professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and a member of the ICAC North Florida Task Force.
“However, because few understand the nature of the technology, they are erring greatly on the side of caution. This speaks to the need for greater education regarding the scope and possibilities of mobile forensics and what it means for privacy and pre-trial discovery.”
Mobile malware’s incidence will rise
In the near future, look for malware on smartphone platforms and tablets to increase exponentially, particularly on Android devices.
According to Cindy Murphy, detective, computer crimes/ computer forensics, Madison Wisconsin Police Department: “For law enforcement and forensics professionals, mobile malware means dealing with potentially compromised devices that may help perpetrators cover their tracks, making it increasingly difficult for investigators to meet the threshold of reasonable doubt.”
Data breaches via mobile will rise
“Mobile forensics vendors should resolve to provide stronger capabilities for enterprise wide smartphone investigations to support the investigation of data breaches targeting smartphones and the needs of e-discovery,” said Casey of Caseit.
Cellebrite said its UFED (Universal Forensic Extraction Device) provides cutting-edge solutions for physical, logical and file system extraction of data and passwords from thousands of legacy and feature phones, smartphones, portable GPS devices, and tablets.
Cellebrite is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Sun Corporation, a public-listed Japanese company.
Related Stories:
As mobile usage grows, so should security: IDC
Are mobile networks as safe as we think?
McAfee outlines strategy for the future of business security
Security threats: What to expect in 2013

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