On Thursday, June 30, we’ll be offering another webinar that is new to our series: Smartphones and the Internet, a discussion about how smart phones are changing the world of online investigations. Instructor Michael Harrington, Director of Training at Teel Technologies and a longtime expert in mobile device forensics, will cover the various apps and tools that tie smart phones to the Internet and the potential for evidence collection on both the phone and the websites tied to the apps.
We asked Mike for some more detail on what he’ll be talking about:
VS: What are the major apps and platforms you’ll be covering in your webinar, and why are they especially relevant?
MH: I’ll mostly be concentrating on iOS and Android and focusing attention on GPS, browser, cloud and social networking applications such as Facebook and Twitter. iOS and especially Android account for the vast majority of the consumer market. Android growth is particularly strong in emerging markets, and has arguably the number one market position.
I’ll be concentrating on social networking applications because research has shown that the vast majority of access to services such as Facebook and Twitter are done on mobile. Facebook in particular is relevant because of the recent controversies of underage access and of course its role in the Arab Spring. Twitter has also made the news with Weinergate, and controversy over ill-thought tweets by such people as Roger Ebert.
The ability to access cloud based services from smart phones (Evernote, logmein and the like) as well as the smartphones capturing of location information not just overtly through GPS applications makes discussion of the platforms relevant.
VS: How do online evidence and mobile evidence work in conjunction? What if one doesn’t match the other?
Online evidence and mobile evidence should be used to validate each other. They should match each other regarding similar data such as IP address. In some instances online evidence may contain more information and vice versa. If they don’t match further investigation and explanation is needed to account for differences.
VS: How deep should investigators dive when collecting evidence from the Internet and from a mobile device? How can they make the decision about how far to go?
I think these questions are tied together inextricably. The decision on how far to dive depends on the severity of the crime. In most instances a simple download of the logical data on the phone will be sufficient to corroborate online evidence or to gather additional evidence to support that gathered online. In some instances it may be necessary to try to recover deleted data off a mobile — this may require specialist equipment and certainly more time and training.
VS: Not all mobile examiners will collect online evidence, and not all online investigators will collect mobile evidence. What’s the best way for them to come together to work out case building?
Since most people on the planet carry mobile phones and the usage of smart phones to access more services is expected to rise by 55% in 2011 it is absolute folly not to look for evidence on mobile devices. I would recommend that a [standard operating procedure] be worked out that if mobile devices are seized, and the particular type of case being worked suggests that a device may be used to access online services where evidence could be collected — or the like is found on mobile devices — that [all] those leads are chased down.
Investigators have to aware of all ways in which criminals and victims access the online world. More and more it’s through their mobile devices.
VS: Anything else webinar attendees should know in advance?
Maybe some stats on the smartphone market. Here is an excerpt from the first chapter of the Android book (Apress, expected pub date December 2011) I’m working on:
The growth of the global smart phone market has been nothing short of explosive. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), a leader in market research, the world wide smartphone market is expected to grow 55% in 2011, fueled by consumers eager to exchange their feature mobile phones for advanced devices with more features, and most importantly, apps.
The sheer number of devices being shipped is staggering. Again according to the IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker there will be a total of 472 million smart phones shipped in 2011 up from 305 in 2010. Furthermore, this is expected to almost double to an unbelievable 982 million by the end of 2015.
The growth rate is over four times the rate of the overall mobile phone market due to the accessibility of devices to a wide range of users, and helped by falling prices, functionality and low cost data plans.
The growth is most pronounced in markets that are emerging and where the adoption of these devices is still in early days – the IDC predicts that the most stunning growth will be in the Asia/Pacific region and in Latin America.
Join us on Thursday, June 30 from 11am-12pm Pacific, and bring any questions you have for Mike!
Image: Johann Larsson via Flickr