October 2014 Bar Bulletin
Mobile Device Discovery: Here's an App for That
By Matthew Christoff
A recent study conducted of American adults reported that as of January 90 percent own a cellular phone, 58 percent own a smartphone, 32 percent own an electronic reader and 42 percent own a tablet device.1 These numbers indicate that many of the individuals involved in your matter may have potentially relevant information stored on one or more of their mobile devices.
The following tips and tricks regarding mobile device discovery will help you to determine whether you need to consider information located on mobile devices, as well as some of the issues that you may encounter along the way.
Do You Need To Look at Mobile Devices at All?
One of the most important questions that you should ask yourself before attempting to forensically acquire information from a mobile device is whether you need to collect information from the mobile device at all. In many instances, the information that you are interested in can be acquired from alternative and far more common sources.
For example, consider a user who sends an important email from a mobile device. Unless there is a reason to believe that you cannot obtain this email from any other source, such as the user's email server or the recipient's inbox, there may be no reason to spend the time and money forensically imaging, analyzing and extracting duplicative email from the mobile device.
Similarly, with the large amount of cloud-based storage options available to users, it is often possible to obtain copies of relevant documents that have been synchronized automatically to these online repositories.
Research Your Device
With the release of a new device or updated iteration of a previously released device, manufacturers consistently add new hardware and software features that you may not have experienced before. These features can range from revisions to an operating system and the implementation of encryption to entirely new hardware altogether.
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