Information Systems homework help

you need to read the Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics, please see that attached file. Then summarize the Acquisition section number 5.
In addition to summarizing the Acquisition section, the paper should also answer these questions:

  1. Who is the NIST and what is their stake in, or relationship to, mobile devices?
  2. Do you think it’s important (both personally and for the mobile device forensics field) to have a document such as the Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics? Why or why not?
  3. What potential downsides do you see to having and following guidelines such as these? Are there any recommendations you would make to improve the guidelines?
  4. Of the three sections listed above, which do you think is the most important step in the forensics process, and why?
  5. If you haven’t already addressed this in your paper, explain why you summarized the section that you did.

The paper must be 3 pages in length and use proper APA formatting and citations.
NIST Special Publication 800-101
Revision 1
Guidelines on Mobile Device
Rick Ayers
Sam Brothers
Wayne Jansen
NIST Special Publication 800-101
Revision 1
Guidelines on Mobile Device
Rick Ayers
Software and Systems Division
Information Technology Laboratory
Sam Brothers
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Department of Homeland Security
Springfield, VA
Wayne Jansen
Booz Allen Hamilton
McLean, VA 800-101r1
May 2014
U.S. Department of Commerce
Penny Pritzker, Secretary
National Institute of Standards and Technology
Patrick D. Gallagher, Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and Director
This publication has been developed by NIST in accordance with its statutory responsibilities
under the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 (FISMA), 44 U.S.C. § 3541 et
seq., Public Law (P.L.) 107-347. NIST is responsible for developing information security
standards and guidelines, including minimum requirements for Federal information systems, but
such standards and guidelines shall not apply to national security systems without the express
approval of appropriate Federal officials exercising policy authority over such systems. This
guideline is consistent with the requirements of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
Circular A-130, Section 8b(3), Securing Agency Information Systems, as analyzed in Circular A130, Appendix IV: Analysis of Key Sections. Supplemental information is provided in Circular A130, Appendix III, Security of Federal Automated Information Resources.
Nothing in this publication should be taken to contradict the standards and guidelines made
mandatory and binding on Federal agencies by the Secretary of Commerce under statutory
authority. Nor should these guidelines be interpreted as altering or superseding the existing
authorities of the Secretary of Commerce, Director of the OMB, or any other Federal official.
This publication may be used by nongovernmental organizations on a voluntary basis and is not
subject to copyright in the United States. Attribution would, however, be appreciated by NIST.
National Institute of Standards and Technology Special Publication 800-101r1
Natl. Inst. Stand. Technol. Spec. Publ. 800-101 Revision 1, 87 pages (May 2014) 800-101r1
Certain commercial entities, equipment, or materials may be identified in this document in order to
describe an experimental procedure or concept adequately. Such identification is not intended to imply
recommendation or endorsement by NIST, nor is it intended to imply that the entities, materials, or
equipment are necessarily the best available for the purpose.
There may be references in this publication to other publications currently under development by NIST
in accordance with its assigned statutory responsibilities. The information in this publication, including
concepts and methodologies, may be used by Federal agencies even before the completion of such
companion publications. Thus, until each publication is completed, current requirements, guidelines,
and procedures, where they exist, remain operative. For planning and transition purposes, Federal
agencies may wish to closely follow the development of these new publications by NIST.
Organizations are encouraged to review all draft publications during public comment periods and
provide feedback to NIST. All NIST Computer Security Division publications, other than the ones
noted above, are available at
Reports on Computer Systems Technology
The Information Technology Laboratory (ITL) at the National Institute of Standards and
Technology (NIST) promotes the U.S. economy and public welfare by providing technical
leadership for the Nation’s measurement and standards infrastructure. ITL develops tests, test
methods, reference data, proof of concept implementations, and technical analyses to advance the
development and productive use of information technology. ITL’s responsibilities include the
development of management, administrative, technical, and physical standards and guidelines for
the cost-effective security and privacy of other than national security-related information in
Federal information systems. The Special Publication 800-series reports on ITL’s research,
guidelines, and outreach efforts in information system security, and its collaborative activities
with industry, government, and academic organizations.
Mobile device forensics is the science of recovering digital evidence from a mobile device under
forensically sound conditions using accepted methods. Mobile device forensics is an evolving
specialty in the field of digital forensics. This guide attempts to bridge the gap by providing an indepth look into mobile devices and explaining technologies involved and their relationship to
forensic procedures. This document covers mobile devices with features beyond simple voice
communication and text messaging capabilities. This guide also discusses procedures for the
validation, preservation, acquisition, examination, analysis, and reporting of digital information.
cell phone forensics; forensic tools; mobile devices; mobile device forensics; mobile device tools;
smart phones
The authors, Rick Ayers from NIST, Sam Brothers from U.S. Customs and Border Protection and
Wayne Jansen from Booz-Allen-Hamilton, wish to thank colleagues who reviewed drafts of this
document. In particular, our appreciation goes to Barbara Guttman from NIST and Simson
Garfinkle from the Naval Postgraduate School for their technical support and written
contributions to this document.
Our appreciation also goes out to Bob Elder from TeelTech Canada, Gary Kessler from Gary
Kessler Associates, Rick Mislan from Rochester Institute of Technology and Daren Melson for
their assistance on technical issues that arose in our work. The authors would also like to thank all
others who assisted with our review process.
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
Table of Contents
TABLE OF CONTENTS………………………………………………………………………………………………. V
LIST OF FIGURES ……………………………………………………………………………………………………..VII
LIST OF TABLES…………………………………………………………………………………………………….. VIII
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY…………………………………………………………………………………………….. 1
1. INTRODUCTION…………………………………………………………………………………………………… 1
1.1 PURPOSE AND SCOPE …………………………………………………………………………………………… 1
1.2 AUDIENCE AND ASSUMPTIONS……………………………………………………………………………… 1
1.3 DOCUMENT STRUCTURE………………………………………………………………………………………. 1
2. BACKGROUND…………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 3
2.1 MOBILE DEVICE CHARACTERISTICS ……………………………………………………………………… 3
2.2 MEMORY CONSIDERATIONS …………………………………………………………………………………. 5
2.3 IDENTITY MODULE CHARACTERISTICS………………………………………………………………….. 7
2.4 CELLULAR NETWORK CHARACTERISTICS…………………………………………………………….. 10
2.5 OTHER COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEMS…………………………………………………………………… 12
3. FORENSIC TOOLS………………………………………………………………………………………………. 15
3.2 UICCTOOLS…………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 23
3.3 OBSTRUCTED DEVICES ………………………………………………………………………………………. 24
3.4 FORENSIC TOOL CAPABILITIES……………………………………………………………………………. 25
4. PRESERVATION…………………………………………………………………………………………………. 27
4.1 SECURING AND EVALUATING THE SCENE…………………………………………………………….. 27
4.2 DOCUMENTING THE SCENE…………………………………………………………………………………. 28
4.3 ISOLATION………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 28
4.5 ON-SITE TRIAGE PROCESSING…………………………………………………………………………….. 33
4.6 GENERIC ON-SITE DECISION TREE………………………………………………………………………. 35
5. ACQUISITION …………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 37
5.1 MOBILE DEVICE IDENTIFICATION ……………………………………………………………………….. 37
5.2 TOOL SELECTION AND EXPECTATIONS ………………………………………………………………… 39
5.3 MOBILE DEVICE MEMORY ACQUISITION……………………………………………………………… 40
5.4 TANGENTIAL EQUIPMENT…………………………………………………………………………………… 45
6. EXAMINATION AND ANALYSIS………………………………………………………………………. 48
6.1 POTENTIAL EVIDENCE ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 48
6.2 APPLYING MOBILE DEVICE FORENSIC TOOLS………………………………………………………. 50
6.3 CALL AND SUBSCRIBER RECORDS……………………………………………………………………….. 52
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
7. REPORTING………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 55
8. REFERENCES……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 58
8.1 BIBLIOGRAPHIC CITATIONS………………………………………………………………………………… 58
8.2 FOOTNOTED URLS ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 62
APPENDIX A. ACRONYMS………………………………………………………………………………………. 64
APPENDIX B. GLOSSARY………………………………………………………………………………………… 67
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
List of Figures
Figure 1: Memory Configurations……………………………….. 6
Figure 2: SIM Card Size Formats [Orm09] ………………….. 8
Figure 3: SIM File System (GSM) ………………………………. 9
Figure 4: Cellular Network Organization……………………. 12
Figure 5: Satellite Phone Network……………………………… 13
Figure 6: Mobile Device Tool Classification System…… 17
Figure 7: Generic Triage Decision Tree ……………………… 36
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
List of Tables
Table 1: Hardware Characterization…………………………….. 4
Table 2: Software Characterization ……………………………… 5
Table 3: Mobile Device Forensic Tools……………………… 21
Table 4: Memory Cards…………………………………………….. 46
Table 5: Example Record Structure……………………………. 72
Table 6: Technical Resource Sites……………………………… 75
Table 7: Databases for Identification Queries……………… 75
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
Executive Summary
The digital forensic community faces a constant challenge to stay abreast of the latest
technologies that may be used to expose relevant clues in an investigation. Mobile devices are
commonplace in today’s society, used by many individuals for both personal and professional
purposes. Mobile devices vary in design and are continually undergoing change as existing
technologies improve and new technologies are introduced. When a mobile device is
encountered during an investigation, many questions arise: What is the best method to
preserve the evidence? How should the device be handled? How should valuable or
potentially relevant data contained on the device be extracted? The key to answering these
questions begins with a firm understanding of the hardware and software characteristics of
mobile devices. This guide discusses procedures for the preservation, acquisition, examination,
analysis, and reporting of digital evidence. The issue of ever increasing backlogs for most
digital forensics labs is addressed and guidance is provided on handling on-site triage
The objective of the guide is twofold: to help organizations evolve appropriate policies and
procedures for dealing with mobile devices and to prepare forensic specialists to conduct
forensically sound examinations involving mobile devices. This guide is not all-inclusive nor
is it prescribing how law enforcement and incident response communities should handle
mobile devices during their investigations or incidents. Specific vendors and mobile forensic
acquisition guidance is not specified. However, from the principles outlined and other
information provided, organizations should find this guide helpful in establishing their policies
and procedures. This publication should not be construed as legal advice. Organizations should
use this guide as a starting point for developing a forensic capability in conjunction with proper
technical training and extensive guidance provided by legal advisors, officials, and
management. This guide is the first revision to NIST SP800-101. While much of the
information provided herein has been carried over from the original guide, the material has
been updated and augmented to reflect the current state of the discipline.
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
1. Introduction
1.1 Purpose and Scope
This guide provides basic information on mobile forensics tools and the preservation,
acquisition, examination and analysis, and reporting of digital evidence present on mobile
devices. This information is relevant to law enforcement, incident response and other types of
investigations. This guide focuses mainly on the characteristics of cellular mobile devices,
including feature phones, smartphones, and tablets with cellular voice capabilities. It also
covers provisions to be taken into consideration during the course of an incident investigation.
This guide is intended to address common circumstances that may be encountered by
organizational security staff and law enforcement investigators involving digital electronic data
residing on mobile devices and associated electronic media. It is also intended to complement
existing guidelines and delve more deeply into issues related to mobile devices and their
examination and analysis.
Procedures and techniques presented in this document are a compilation of best practices
within the discipline and references have been taken from existing forensic guidelines. This
publication is not to be used as a step-by-step guide for executing a proper forensic
investigation when dealing with mobile devices nor construed as legal advice. Its purpose is to
inform readers of the various technologies involved and potential ways to approach them from
a forensic point of view. Readers are advised to apply the recommended practices only after
consultation with management and legal officials for compliance with laws and regulations
(i.e., local, state, federal, and international) that are applicable.
1.2 Audience and Assumptions
The intended audience is varied and ranges from forensic examiners to response team
members handling a computer security incident to organizational security officials
investigating an employee-related incident. The practices recommended in this guide are
designed to highlight key technical principles associated with the handling and examination of
mobile devices. Readers are assumed to have a basic understanding of traditional digital
forensic methodologies and capabilities involving stand-alone computers. Due to the changing
nature of mobile devices and their related forensic procedures and tools, readers are expected
to be aware of and employ additional resources for the most current information.
1.3 Document Structure
The guide is divided into the following chapters and appendices:
 Chapter 1 explains the authority, purpose and scope, audience and assumptions of the
document and outlines its structure.
 Chapter 2 provides a background on mobile device characteristics, the internal
memory of mobile devices, and characteristics of identity modules and cellular
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
 Chapter 3 discusses the mobile device forensic tool classification system, methods for
handling obstructed devices and the capabilities of forensic tools.
 Chapter 4 discusses considerations for preserving digital evidence associated with
mobile devices and techniques for preventing network communication.
 Chapter 5 examines the process of mobile device and identity module data
acquisition, tangential equipment and cloud-based services for mobile devices.
 Chapter 6 outlines the examination and analysis process, common sources of evidence
extracted from mobile devices and identity modules, features and capabilities of tools
for examination and call/subscriber records.
 Chapter 7 discusses an overview of report creation and the reporting of findings.
 Chapter 8 contains a list of references used in this guide.
 Appendix A contains a list of acronyms used in this guide.
 Appendix B contains a glossary defining terms used in this guide.
 Appendix C provides an example of the structure of call records maintained by cell
phone carriers.
 Appendix D provides links to online resources.
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
2. Background
This chapter gives an overview of the hardware and software capabilities of mobile devices
and their associated cellular networks. The overview provides a summary of general
characteristics and, where useful, focuses on key features relevant to forensics. Developing an
understanding of the components and organization of mobile devices (e.g., memory
organization and its use) is a prerequisite to understanding the intricacies involved when
dealing with them forensically. For example, mobile device memory that contains user data
may be volatile (i.e., DRAM/SRAM) and require continuous power to maintain content
similar to RAM in a personal computer. Similarly, features of cellular networks are an
important aspect of mobile device forensics, since logs of usage, geographic location, and
other data are maintained. Mobile device technologies and cellular networks are rapidly
changing, with new technologies, products, and features being introduced regularly. Because
of the fast pace with which mobile device technologies are evolving, this discussion captures a
snapshot of the mobile device discipline at the present time.
2.1 Mobile Device Characteristics
Mobile devices perform an array of functions ranging from a simple telephony device to those
of a personal computer. Designed for mobility, they are compact in size, battery-powered, and
lightweight. Most mobile devices have a basic set of comparable features and capabilities.
They house a microprocessor, read only memory (ROM), random access memory (RAM), a
radio module, a digital signal processor, a microphone and speaker, a variety of hardware keys
and interfaces and a liquid crystal display (LCD). The operating system (OS) of a mobile
device may be stored in either NAND or NOR memory while code execution typically occurs
in RAM.
Currently, mobile devices are equipped with system-level microprocessors that reduce the
number of supporting chips required and include considerable internal memory capacity
currently up to 64GB (e.g., Stacked NAND). Built-in Secure Digital (SD) memory card slots,
such as one for the micro Secure Digital eXtended Capacity (microSDXC), may support
removable memory with capacities ranging from 64GB to 2TB of storage. Non-cellular
wireless communications such as infrared (i.e., IrDA), Bluetooth, Near Field Communication
(NFC), and WiFi may also be built into the device and support synchronization protocols to
exchange other data (e.g., graphics, audio, and video file formats).
Different mobile devices have different technical and physical characteristics (e.g., size,
weight, processor speed, memory capacity). Mobile devices may also use different types of
expansion capabilities to provide additional functionality. Furthermore, mobile device
capabilities sometimes include those of other devices such as handheld Global Positioning
Systems (GPS), cameras (still and video) or personal computers. Overall, mobile devices can
be classified as feature phones that are primarily simple voice and messaging communication
devices or smartphones that offer more advanced capabilities and services for multimedia,
similar to those of a personal computer. Table 1 highlights the general hardware characteristics
of feature and smartphone models, which underscore this diversity.
The classification scheme is illustrative and intended to give a sense of the range of hardware
characteristics currently in the marketplace. Over time, characteristics found in smartphones
tend to appear in feature phones as new technology is introduced to smartphones. Though the
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
lines of delineation are somewhat fuzzy and dynamic, the classification scheme nevertheless
serves as a general guide.
Table 1: Hardware Characterization
Feature Phone Smartphone
Processor Limited speed (~52Mhz) Superior speed (~1GHz dual-core)
Memory Limited capacity (~5MB) Superior capacity (~128GB)
Display Small size color, 4k –
260k (12-bit to 18-bit) Large size color, 16.7 million (~24-bit)
Card Slots None, MicroSD MicroSDXC
Camera Still, Video Still, Panoramic, and Video (HD)
Text Input Numeric Keypad,
QWERTY-style keyboard
Touch Screen, Handwriting
Recognition, QWERTY-style keyboard
Voice Input None Voice Recognition (Dialing and Control)
Voice and Limited Data Voice and High Speed Data (4G LTE)
Positioning None, GPS receiver GPS receiver
Wireless IrDA, Bluetooth Bluetooth, WiFi, and NFC
Rechargeable Li-Ion
Fixed/Removable, Rechargeable Li-Ion
Both feature phones and smartphones support voice, text messaging, and a set of basic
Personal Information Management (PIM) type applications including phonebook and calendar
facilities. Smartphones add PC-like capability for running a wide variety of general and
special-purpose applications. Smartphones are typically larger than feature phones, support
higher video resolutions (e.g., ~300 PPI) and may have an integrated QWERTY keyboard or
touch sensitive screen. Smartphones generally support a wide array of applications, available
through an application storefront. Table 2 lists the differences in software capabilities found on
these device classes.
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
Table 2: Software Characterization
Feature Phone Smartphone
OS Closed Android, BlackBerry OS, iOS, Symbian,
WebOS and Windows Phone
Phonebook, Calendar and
Reminder List
Enhanced Phonebook, Calendar and
Reminder List
Applications Minimal (e.g., games,
Applications (e.g., games, office productivity
and social media)
Call Voice Voice, Video
Messaging Text Messaging, MMS Text, Enhanced Text,
Full Multimedia Messaging
Chat Instant Messaging Enhanced Instant Messaging
Email Via text messaging Via POP or IMAP Server
Web Via WAP Gateway Direct HTTP
Feature phones typically use a closed operating system with no published documentation. A
number of companies specializing in embedded software also offer real-time operating system
solutions for manufacturers of mobile devices. Smartphones generally use either a proprietary
or an open source operating system. Nearly all smartphones use one of the following operating
systems: Android, BlackBerry OS, iOS, Symbian, WebOS or Windows Phone. Unlike the
more limited kernels in feature phones, these operating systems are multi-tasking and fullfeatured, designed specifically to match the capabilities of high-end mobile devices. Many
smartphone operating systems manufacturers offer a Software Development Kit (SDK) (e.g.,
the Android1
or iOS2
2.2 Memory Considerations
Mobile devices contain both non-volatile and volatile memory. Volatile memory (i.e., RAM)
is used for dynamic storage and its contents are lost when power is drained from the mobile
device. Non-volatile memory is persistent as its contents are not affected by loss of power or
overwriting data upon reboot. For example, solid-state drives (SSD) that stores persistent data
on solid-state flash memory.
Mobile devices typically contain one or two different types of non-volatile flash memory.
These types are NAND and NOR. NOR flash has faster read times, slower write times than
NAND and is nearly immune to corruption and bad blocks while allowing random access to
any memory location. NAND flash offers higher memory storage capacities, is less stable and
only allows sequential access.
For more information, visit:
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Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
Memory configurations among mobile devices have evolved over time. Feature phones were
among the first types of devices that contained NOR flash and RAM memory. System and
user data are stored in NOR and copied to RAM upon booting for faster code execution and
access. This is known as the first generation of mobile device memory configurations.
As smartphones were introduced, memory configurations evolved, adding NAND flash
memory. This arrangement of NOR, NAND and RAM memory is referred to as the second
generation. This generation of memory configurations stores system files in NOR flash, user
files in NAND and RAM is used for code execution.
The latest smartphones contain only NAND and RAM memory (i.e., third generation), due to
requirements for higher transaction speed, greater storage density and lower cost. To facilitate
the lack of space on mobile device mainboards and the demand for higher density storage
space (i.e., 2GB – 128GB) the new Embedded MultiMedia Cards (eMMC) style chips are
present in many of today’s smartphones.
Figure 1 illustrates the various memory configurations contained across all mobile devices.
Figure 1: Memory Configurations
RAM is the most difficult to capture accurately due to its volatile nature. Since RAM is
typically used for program execution, information may be of value to the examiner (e.g.,
configuration files, passwords, etc.). Mobile device RAM capture tools are just beginning to
become available.
NOR flash memory includes system data such as: operating system code, the kernel, device
drivers, system libraries, memory for executing operating system applications and the storage
of user application execution instructions. NOR flash will be the best location for data
collection for first generation memory configuration devices.
NAND flash memory contains: PIM data, graphics, audio, video, and other user files. This
type of memory generally provides the examiner with the most useful information in most
cases. NAND flash memory may leave multiple copies of transaction-based files (e.g.,
databases and logs) due to wear leveling algorithms and garbage collection routines. Since
NAND flash memory cells can be re-used for only a limited amount of time before they
become unreliable, wear leveling algorithms are used to increase the life span of Flash memory
storage, by arranging data so that erasures and re-writes are distributed evenly across the SSD.
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
Garbage collection occurs because NAND flash memory cannot overwrite existing data, the
data must first be erased before writing to the same cell [Bel10].
2.3 Identity Module Characteristics
Identity modules (commonly known as SIM cards) are synonymous with mobile devices that
interoperate with GSM cellular networks. Under the GSM framework, a mobile device is
referred to as a Mobile Station and is partitioned into two distinct components: the Universal
Integrated Circuit Card (UICC) and the Mobile Equipment (ME). A UICC, commonly
referred to as an identity module (e.g., Subscriber Identity Module [SIM], Universal Subscriber
Identity Module [USIM], CDMA Subscriber Identity Module [CSIM]), is a removable
component that contains essential information about the subscriber. The ME and the radio
handset portion cannot fully function without a UICC. The UICC’s main purpose entails
authenticating the user of the mobile device to the network providing access to subscribed
services. The UICC also offers storage for personal information, such as phonebook entries,
text messages, last numbers dialed (LND) and service-related information.
The UICC partitioning of a mobile device stipulated in the GSM standards has brought about a
form of portability. Moving a UICC between compatible mobile devices automatically
transfers the subscriber’s identity and some of the associated information (e.g., SMS messages
and contacts) and capabilities. In contrast, 2G and 3G CDMA mobile devices generally do not
contain a UICC card. Analogous UICC functionality is instead directly incorporated within the
device. However, newer CDMA (i.e., 4G/LTE) devices may employ a CDMA Subscriber
Identity Module (CSIM) application running on a UICC.
A UICC can contain up to three applications: SIM, USIM and CSIM. UICCs used in GSM
and UMTS mobile devices use the SIM and UMTS SIM (USIM) applications, while CDMA
devices use the CSIM application. A UICC with all three applications provides users with
additional portability through the removal of the UICC from one mobile device and insertion
into another. Because the SIM application was originally synonymous with the physical card
itself, the term SIM is often used to refer to the physical card in lieu of UICC. Similarly the
terms USIM and CSIM can refer to both the physical card as well as the respective
applications supported on the UICC.
At its core, a UICC is a special type of smart card that typically contains a processor and
between 16 to 128 KB of persistent electronically erasable, programmable read only memory
(EEPROM). It also includes RAM for program execution and ROM for the operating system,
user authentication and data encryption algorithms, and other applications. The UICC’s file
system resides in persistent memory and stores data such as: as phonebook entries, text
messages, last numbers dialed (LND) and service-related information. Depending on the
mobile device used, some information managed by applications on the UICC may coexist in
the memory of the mobile device. Information may also reside entirely in the memory of the
mobile device instead of available memory reserved for it in the file system of the UICC.
The UICC operating system controls access to elements of the file system [3GP07]. Actions
such as reading or updating may be permitted or denied unconditionally, or allowed
conditionally with certain access rights, depending on the application. Rights are assigned to a
subscriber through 4-8 digit Personal Identification Number (PIN) codes. PINs protect core
subscriber-related data and certain optional data.
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
A preset number of attempts (usually three) are allowed for providing the correct PIN code to
the UICC before further attempts are blocked completely, rendering communications
inoperative. Only by providing a correct PIN Unblocking Key (PUK) may the value of a PIN
and its counter be reset on the UICC. If the number of attempts to enter the correct PUK value
exceeds a set limit, normally ten, the card becomes blocked permanently. The PUK for a
UICC may be obtained from the service provider or network operator by providing the
identifier of the UICC (i.e., Integrated Circuit Chip Identifier or ICCID). The ICCID is
normally imprinted on the front of UICC, but may also be read from an element of the file
UICCs are available in three different size formats. They are: Mini SIM (2FF), Micro SIM
(3FF), and Nano SIM (4FF). The Mini SIM with a width of 25 mm, a height of 15 mm, and a
thickness of .76 mm, is roughly the footprint of a postage stamp and is currently the most
common format used worldwide. Micro (12mm x 15mm x .76mm) and Nano (8.8mm x
12.3mm x .67mm) SIMs are found in newer mobile devices (e.g., iPhone 5 uses the 4FF).
Figure 2: SIM Card Size Formats [Orm09]
Though similar in dimension to a miniSD removable memory card, UICCs follow a different
set of specifications with vastly different characteristics. For example, their pin connectors are
not aligned along the bottom edge as with removable media cards, but instead form a contact
pad integral to the smart card chip, which is embedded in a plastic frame, as shown in Figure 2.
UICCs also employ a broad range of tamper resistance techniques to protect the information
they contain.
The slot for the UICC card is normally not accessible from the exterior of the mobile device to
protect insertion and removal as with a memory card. Instead, it typically is found beneath the
battery compartment. When a UICC is inserted into a mobile device handset and pin contact is
made, a serial interface is used for communicating between them.
In most cases, the UICC should be removed from the handset first and read using a Personal
Computer/Smart Card (PC/SC) reader. Removal of the UICC provides the examiner with
ability to read additional data that may be recovered (e.g., deleted text messages).
Authenticating a device to a network securely is a vital function performed via the UICC.
Cryptographic key information and algorithms within the tamper resistant module provide the
means for the device to participate in a challenge-response dialogue with the network and
respond correctly, without exposing key material and other information that could be used to
clone the UICC and gain access to a subscriber’s services. Cryptographic key information in
the UICC also supports stream cipher encryption to protect against eavesdropping on the air
A UICC is similar to a mobile device as it has both volatile and non-volatile memory that may
contain the same general categories of data as found in a mobile device. It can be thought of as
a trusted sub-processor that interfaces to a device and draws power from it. The file system
resides in the non-volatile memory of a UICC and is organized as a hierarchical tree structure.
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
For example, the SIM applications file system is composed of three types of elements: the root
of the file system (MF), subordinate directory files (DF), and files containing elementary data
(EF). Figure 3 illustrates the structure of the file system. The EFs under DFGSM and DFDCS1800
contain mainly network related information for different frequency bands of operation. The
EFs under DFTELECOM contain service related information.
Figure 3: SIM File System (GSM)
Various types of digital evidence may exist in elementary data files scattered throughout the
file system and be recovered from a UICC. Some of the same information held in the UICC
may be maintained in the memory of the mobile device and encountered there as well. Besides
the standard files defined in the GSM specifications, a UICC may contain non-standard files
established by the network operator. Several general categories of data may be found in
standard elementary data files of a UICC are as follows:
 Service-related Information including unique identifiers for the UICC, the Integrated
Circuit Card Identification (ICCID) and the International Mobile Subscriber Identity
 Phonebook and call information known respectively as the Abbreviated Dialing
Numbers (ADN) and Last Numbers Dialed (LND)
 Messaging information including both Short Message Service (SMS) text messages
and Enhanced Messaging Service (EMS) simple multimedia messages
 The USIM application supports the storage of links to incoming (EFICI) and outgoing
(EFOCI) calls. The EFICI and EFOCI are each stored using two bytes. The first byte
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
points to a specific phone book and the second points to an abbreviated dialing
number (EFADN) entry3
 Location information including Location Area Information (LAI) for voice
communications and Routing Area Information (RAI) for data communications.
2.4 Cellular Network Characteristics
Within the U.S., different types of digital cellular networks follow distinct incompatible sets of
standards. The following sections discuss digital cellular networks, Mobile IP and satellite
The two most dominant types of digital cellular networks are known as Code Division
Multiple Access (CDMA) and Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) networks.
Other common cellular networks include Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) and
Integrated Digital Enhanced Network (iDEN). iDEN networks use a proprietary protocol
designed by Motorola, while the others follow standardized open protocols. A digital version
of the original analog standard for cellular telephone phone service, called Digital Advanced
Mobile Phone Service (D-AMPS), also exists.
CDMA refers to a technology designed by Qualcomm in the U.S., which employs spread
spectrum communications for the radio link.4
Rather than sharing a channel as many other
network air interfaces do, CDMA spreads the digitized data over the entire bandwidth
available, distinguishing multiple calls through a unique sequence code assigned. Successive
versions of the IS-95 standard define CDMA conventions in the U.S., which is the reason why
the term CDMA is often used to refer to IS-95 compliant cellular networks. IS-95 CDMA
systems are sometimes referred to as cdmaOne. The next evolutionary step for CDMA to 3G
services was CDMA2000. CDMA2000 is backward compatible with its previous 2G iteration
IS-95 (cdmaOne). The successor to CDMA2000 is Qualcomm’s Long Term Evolution (LTE).
LTE adds faster data transfer capabilities for mobile devices and is commonly referred to as
4G LTE. Verizon and Sprint are common CDMA network carriers in the U.S.
GSM is a cellular system used worldwide that was designed in Europe, primarily by Ericsson
and Nokia. AT&T and T-Mobile are common GSM network carriers in the U.S. GSM uses a
TDMA air interface. TDMA refers to a digital link technology whereby multiple phones share
a single carrier, radio frequency channel by taking turns – using the channel exclusively for an
allocated time slice, then releasing it and waiting briefly while other phones use it. A packet
switching enhancement to GSM called General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) was
standardized to improve the transmission of data. The next generation of GSM, commonly
referred to as the third generation or 3G, is known as Universal Mobile Telecommunications
System (UMTS) and involves enhancing GSM networks with a Wideband CDMA (WCDMA) air interface. 4G LTE is also available to GSM mobile devices providing higher data
transmission rates to its customers.5
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TDMA is also used to refer specifically to the standard covered by IS-136. Using the term
TDMA to refer to a general technique or a specific type of cellular network can be a source of
confusion. For example, although GSM uses a TDMA air interface (i.e., the general
technique), as does iDEN, neither of those systems is compatible with TDMA cellular
networks that follow IS-136. Many mobile forensic tools refer to these devices as
iDEN/TDMA phones. Mobile devices operating over the iDEN network often utilize a PushTo-Talk (PTT) function provide subscribers with the ability to communicate with one another
over a cellular network in a “walkie-talkie” fashion.
Integrated Digital Enhanced Network (iDEN), a mobile telecommunications technology
developed by Motorola provided the benefits of a two-way radio system and a cellular
telephone. The iDEN project originally began as MIRS (Motorola Integrated Radio System) in
early 1991 and was phased out the summer of 2013 for the US markets although coverage still
exists in Mexico and Canada.
Digital AMPS (D-AMPS), IS-54 and IS-136 are 2G mobile phone systems once prevalent
within the United States and Canada in the 1990s. Existing networks were mostly replaced by
GSM/GPRS or CDMA2000 technologies.
Mobile devices work with certain subsets of the network types mentioned, typically those
associated with a service provider from whom the phone was obtained and with whom a
service agreement was entered. Mobile devices may also be acquired without service from any
manufacturer, vendor, or other source and subsequently have their service set up separately
with a service provider or network operator. Mobile devices that are permitted to be
provisioned to more than one specific carrier are commonly referred to as “unlocked” as they
may be used on a variety of carriers by switching UICC’s for GSM mobile devices.
Mobile devices do exist that provide the user with both GSM and CDMA capabilities. Such
devices are sometimes referred to as hybrid phones or global phones. These types of mobile
devices contain two types of cellular radios for voice and data, providing the ability to operate
over either the GSM or CDMA network.
As the name implies, cellular networks provide coverage based on dividing up a large
geographical service area into smaller areas of coverage called cells. Cells play an important
role in reuse of radio frequencies in the limited radio spectrum available to allow more calls to
occur than otherwise would be possible. As a mobile device moves from one cell to another, a
cellular arrangement requires active connections to be monitored and effectively passed along
between cells to maintain the connection. To administer the cellular network system, provide
subscribed services, and accurately bill or debit subscriber accounts, data about the service
contract and associated service activities is captured and maintained by the network system.
Despite their differences in technology, cellular networks are organized similarly to one
another, in a manner illustrated in Figure 4 [Gib02]. The main components are the radio
transceiver equipment that communicates with mobile devices, the controller that manages the
transceiver equipment and performs channel assignment, and the switching system for the
cellular network. The technical names for these components are respectively Node B,
representing a Base Transceiver Station (BTS), the Radio Network Controller (RNC), and the
Mobile Switching Center (MSC). The RNCs and the Node B units controlled are sometimes
collectively referred to as a Radio Access Network (RAN).
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
Figure 4: Cellular Network Organization
Each MSC controls a set of RNCs and manages overall communications throughout the
cellular network, including registration, authentication, location updating, handovers, and call
routing. An MSC interfaces with the public switch telephone network (PSTN) via a Gateway
MSC (GMSC). To perform its tasks, an MSC uses several databases. A key database is the
central repository system for subscriber data and service information, called the Home
Location Register (HLR). Another database used in conjunction with the HLR is the Visitor
Location Register (VLR), which is used for mobile devices roaming outside of their service
area. An SGSN (Serving GPRS Support Node) performs a similar role as that of MSC/VLR,
but instead supports General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) (i.e., packet-switched services) to
the Internet. Likewise, GGSN (Gateway GPRS Support Node) functionality is close to that of
a GMSC, but for packet-switched services.
Account information, such as data about the subscriber (e.g., a billing address), the subscribed
services, and the location update last registered with the network are maintained at the HLR
and used by the MSC to route calls and messages and to generate usage records called Call
Detail Records (CDR). The subscriber account data, CDRs, and related technical information
obtained from the network carrier are often a valuable source of evidence in an investigation
2.5 Other Communications Systems
Mobile IP is an Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)6
standard communications protocol
that is designed to allow mobile device users to move from one network to another while
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Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
maintaining a permanent IP address.
7 With the original IP protocol, each time a mobile device
moved to a new Internet point of attachment, all active network connections had to be restarted
and the device possibly needed to be rebooted. Mobile IP instead allows a mobile user to move
about transparently while continuing to use the same IP address (the user’s “home address”),
avoiding these problems and enabling new mobile applications. Mobile IP was designed to
support seamless and continuous Internet connectivity. Mobile IP is most often found in
wireless environments where users need to carry their mobile devices across multiple Local
Area Network (LAN) subnets. Examples of use are in roaming between overlapping wireless
systems e.g., Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN), Worldwide Interoperability for
Microwave Access (WiMAX), IP over Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) and Broadband
Wireless Access (BWA).8
Individuals requiring communication services from remote locations (e.g., aviation, emergency
services, government, military, etc.) are often equipped with satellite phones. Satellite phones
are mobile devices that establish connectivity with satellites rather than cellular towers.
Typically, satellite phones require a direct line of sight to the satellite without obstruction of
objects (e.g., buildings, trees, etc.) impacting the signal strength and quality of the call.
Depending on the service, coverage may range from a specific area all the way to the entire
earth. For example, the Iridium satellite constellation is made up of 66 Low Earth Orbiting
(LEO) satellites with spares, providing worldwide voice and data communications.
Figure 5: Satellite Phone Network
Satellite phones communicate by sending radio signals to a satellite that transmits a signal back
down to earth where a station routes the call to the PSTN. In some cases, the satellite phone
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Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
provider will transmit from one satellite to another satellite that has a connection to an Earth
station. Much like GSM based mobile devices, satellite phones are equipped with a UICC and
provide users with a wide variety of features (e.g., contact list, text messaging, voicemail, call
forwarding, etc.).
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
3. Forensic Tools
The availability of forensic software tools for mobile devices is considerably different from
that of personal computers. While personal computers may differ from mobile devices from a
hardware and software perspective, their functionality has become increasingly similar.
Although the majority of mobile device operating systems are open source (i.e., Android),
feature phone OS’s are typically closed. Closed operating systems make interpreting their
associated file system and structure difficult. Many mobile devices with the same operating
system may also vary widely in their implementation, resulting in a myriad of file system and
structure permutations. These permutations create significant challenges for mobile forensic
tool manufacturers and examiners.
The types of software available for mobile device examination include commercial and open
source forensic tools, as well as non-forensic tools intended for device management, testing,
and diagnostics. Forensic tools are typically designed to acquire data from the internal memory
of handsets and UICCs without altering their content and to calculate integrity hashes for the
acquired data. Both forensic and non-forensic software tools often use the same protocols and
techniques to communicate with a device. However, non-forensic tools may allow unrestricted
two-way flow of information and omit data integrity hash functions. Mobile device examiners
typically assemble a collection of both forensic and non-forensic tools for their toolkit. The
range of devices over which they operate is typically narrowed to: distinct platforms, a specific
operating system family or even a single type of hardware architecture. Short product release
cycles are the norm for mobile devices, requiring tool manufacturers to continually update
their tools providing forensics examiners with an forensic solution. The task is formidable and
tool manufacturers’ support for newer models may lag significantly behind the introduction of
a device into the marketplace. Models of older functioning mobile devices, though out of date,
can remain in use for years after their initial release. Mobile device models introduced into one
national market may also be used in areas by exchanging the UICC of one cellular carrier with
that from another carrier. The current state is likely to continue, keeping the cost of
examination significantly higher than if a few standard operating systems and hardware
configurations prevailed.
3.1 Mobile Device Tool Classification System
Understanding the various types of mobile acquisition tools and the data they are capable of
recovering is important for a mobile forensic examiner. The classification system used in this
section provides a framework for forensic examiners to compare the extraction methods used
by different tools to acquire data. The objective of the tool classification system is to enable an
examiner to easily classify and compare the extraction method of different tools. The tool
classification system is displayed in Figure 6 [Bro08]. As the pyramid is traversed from the
bottom, Level 1, to the top, Level 5, the methodologies involved in acquisition become more
technical, invasive, time consuming, and expensive.
Level 1, Manual Extraction methods involve recording information brought up on a mobile
device screen when employing the user interface. Level 2, Logical Extraction methods are
used most frequently at this time and are mildly technical, requiring beginner-level training.
Methods for levels 3 to 5 entail extracting and recording a copy or image of a physical store
(e.g., a memory chip), compared to the logical acquisitions used at level 2 involve capturing a
copy of logical storage objects (e.g., directories and files) that reside on a logical store (e.g., a
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
file system partition). Level 3, Hex Dumping/JTAG Extraction methods, entail performing a
“physical acquisition” of mobile device memory in situ and require advanced training. Level 4
Chip-Off methods involve the physical removal of memory from a mobile device to extract
data, requiring extensive training in electronic engineering and file system forensics. Level 5,
Micro Read methods involve the use of a high-powered microscope to view the physical state
of gates. Level 5 methods are the most invasive, sophisticated, technical, expensive, and time
consuming of all the methodologies.
There are pros and cons to performing extraction types at each layer. For example, hex
dumping allows deleted objects and any data remnants present to be examined (e.g., in
unallocated memory or file system space), which otherwise would be inaccessible through the
use of logical acquisition methods. However, the extracted device images require parsing,
decryption and decoding. Logical acquisition methods, though more limited than Hex
Dumping/JTAG methods, have the advantage in that the system data structures are at a higher
level of abstraction and are normally easier for a tool to extract and render. These differences
are due to the underlying distinction between memory as seen by a process via the operating
system facilities (i.e., a logical view), versus memory as seen in raw form by the processor or
another hardware component (i.e., a physical view). Based upon a wide variety of
circumstances (e.g., type of data needed, time available, urgency, available tools, etc.), an
examiner may select a specific level to begin their examination. It is important to note that
once a level is used, alternate levels may not be possible. For example, after performing chipoff (level 4) lower level tools may not be physically possible. Forensic examiners should be
aware of such issues and perform the appropriate level of extraction commensurate with their
training and experience. With each methodology, data may be permanently destroyed or
modified if a given tool or procedure is not proper utilized. The risk of alteration and
destruction increases in tandem with the levels. Thus, proper training and mentoring is critical
in obtaining the highest success rate for data extraction and analysis of the data contained
within mobile devices.
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
Figure 6: Mobile Device Tool Classification System
The following discussion provides a more detailed description of each level and the methods
used for data extraction.
 Manual Extraction – A manual extraction method involves viewing the data content
stored on a mobile device. The content displayed on the LCD screen requires the
manual manipulation of the buttons, keyboard or touchscreen to view the contents of
the mobile device. Information discovered may be recorded using an external digital
camera. At this level, it is impossible to recover deleted information. Some tools have
been developed to provide the forensic examiner with the ability to document and
categorize the information recorded more quickly. Nevertheless, if there is a large
amount of data to be captured, a manual extraction can be very time consuming and
the data on the device may be inadvertently modified, deleted or overwritten as a
result of the examination. Manual extractions become increasingly difficult and
perhaps unachievable when encountering a broken/missing LCD screen or a
damaged/missing keyboard interface. Additional challenges occur when the device is
configured to display a language unknown to the investigator; this may cause
difficulty in successful menu navigation.
 Logical Extraction – Connectivity between a mobile device and the forensics
workstation is achieved with a connection using either a wired (e.g., USB or RS-232)
or wireless (e.g., IrDA, WiFi, or Bluetooth) connection. The examiner should be
aware of the issues associated when selecting a specific connectivity method, as
different connection types and associated protocols may result in data being modified
(e.g., unread SMS) or different amounts or types of data being extracted. Logical
extraction tools begin by sending a series of commands over the established interface
from the computer to the mobile device. The mobile device responds based upon the
command request. The response (mobile device data) is sent back to the workstation
and presented to the forensics examiner for reporting purposes.
 Hex Dumping and JTAG – Hex Dumping and Joint Test Action Group (JTAG)
extraction methods afford the forensic examiner more direct access to the raw
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
information stored in flash memory. One challenge with these extraction methods is
the ability of a given tool to parse and decode the captured data. Providing the forensic
examiner with a logical view of the file system, and reporting on other data remnants
outside the file system that may be present are challenging. For example, all data
contained within a given flash memory chip may not be acquired, as many tools, such
as flasher boxes, may only be able to extract specific sections of memory [Bre07].
Methods used at this level require connectivity (e.g., cable or WiFi) between the
mobile device and the forensic workstation.
Hex Dumping – this technique is the more commonly used method by tools at this
level. This involves uploading a modified boot loader (or other software) into a
protected area of memory (e.g., RAM) on the device. This upload process is
accomplished by connecting the mobile device’s data port to a flasher box and the
flasher box is in turn connected to the forensic workstation. A series of commands is
sent from the flasher box to the mobile device to place it in a diagnostic mode. Once
in diagnostic mode, the flasher box captures all (or sections) of flash memory and
sends it to the forensic workstation over the same communications link used for the
upload. Some flasher boxes work this way or they may use a proprietary interface for
memory extractions. Rare cases exist where extractions can be accomplished using
WiFi (i.e., early Jonathan Zdziarski (JZ) Methods) [Zdz12].
JTAG – Many manufacturers support the JTAG standard, which defines a common
test interface for processor, memory, and other semiconductor chips. Forensic
examiners can communicate with a JTAG-compliant component by utilizing special
purpose standalone programmer devices to probe defined test points [Wil05]. The
JTAG testing unit can be used to request memory addresses from the JTAGcompliant component and accept the response for storage and rendition [Bre06].
JTAG gives specialists another avenue for imaging devices that are locked or devices
that may have minor damage and cannot be properly interfaced otherwise. This
method involves attaching a cable (or wiring harness) from a workstation to the
mobile device’s JTAG interface and access memory via the device’s microprocessor
to produce an image [Bre07]. JTAG extractions differ mainly from Hex Dumping in
that it is invasive as access to the connections frequently require that the examiner
dismantle some (or most) of a mobile device to obtain access to establish the wiring
Flasher boxes are small devices originally designed with the intent to service or
upgrade mobile devices. Physical acquisitions frequently require the use of a flasher
box to facilitate the extraction of data from a mobile device. The flasher box aides the
examiner by communicating with the mobile device using diagnostic protocols to
communicate with the memory chip. This communication may utilize the mobile
device’s operating system or may bypass it altogether and communicate directly to the
chip [Jon10]. Flasher boxes are often accompanied by software to facilitate the data
extraction process working in conjunction with the hardware. Many flasher box
software packages provide the added functionality of recovering passwords from
mobile device memory as well in some configurations. Although acquisition methods
differ between flasher boxes, a general process is used [Bre07]. Limitations of the use
of flasher boxes include the following:
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
 Rebooting of the mobile device is frequently required to begin the extraction
process; this may cause authentication mechanisms to activate preventing further
 Many flasher boxes recover the data in an encrypted format requiring the
examiner to either use the software provided by the flasher box manufacturer to
decrypt the data or may require reverse engineering the data’s encryption scheme
by the analyst.
 Many phone models do not provide the acquisition of the entire memory range
within a given mobile device. Only certain ranges may be available for certain
mobile devices
 The flasher box service software often has many buttons that are labeled with
nearly identical names. This confusion may easily lead even an experienced
examiner to press the wrong button, erasing the contents of the mobile device
instead of dumping the memory.
 Lack of documentation on the use of the flasher box tools is common. Extraction
methods are frequently shared on forums supported by the vendor and moderated
by more seasoned users. Caution should be taken when advice is provided, as not
all the information provided is correct.
 Forensic Use: Nearly all flasher boxes were not designed with a forensic use as its
intended purpose. Examiners must be experienced in the use of flasher boxes and
should understand the proper use and function of flasher boxes.
 Despite all of these limitations, use of a flasher box is a viable option for many
forensics cases. Proper training, experience and understating of how the tools
work are the keys to success.
A wide range of technical expertise and proper training is required for extracting and
analyzing binary images with these methods, including locating and connecting to
JTAG ports, creating customized boot loaders and recreating file systems.
 Chip-Off – Chip-Off methods refer to the acquisition of data directly from a mobile
device’s flash memory. This extraction requires the physical removal of flash
memory. Chip-Off provides examiners with the ability to create a binary image of the
removed chip. In order to provide the examiner with data in a contiguous binary
format file, the wear-leveling algorithm must be reverse engineered. Once complete,
the binary image may then be analyzed. This type of acquisition is most closely
related to physical imaging a hard disk drive as in traditional digital forensics.
Extensive training is required in order to successfully perform extractions at this level.
Chip-Off extractions are challenging based on a wide variety of chip types, a myriad
of raw data formats, and the risk of causing physical damage to the chip during the
extraction process. Due to the complexities related to Chip-Off, JTAG extraction is
more common.
 Micro Read – A Micro Read involves recording the physical observation of the gates
on a NAND or NOR chip with the use of an electron microscope. Due to the extreme
technicalities involved when performing a Micro Read, this level of acquisition would
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
only be attempted for high profile cases equivalent to a national security crisis after all
other acquisition techniques have been exhausted. Successful acquisition at this level
would require a team of experts, proper equipment, time and in-depth knowledge of
proprietary information. There are no known U.S. Law Enforcement agencies
performing acquisitions at this level. Currently, there are no commercially available
Micro Read tools.
Table 3 provides a classification of some tools currently used in mobile device investigations,
and identifies the facilities they provide: acquisition, examination, or reporting. Additional
tools do exist, but only those familiar to the authors are discussed. For a more complete an up
to date list of forensic tools refer to: NIST Tool Taxonomy
( The tools listed in Table 3 are
grouped by level starting with Level 1 (Manual Extraction) through Level 4 (Chip-Off).
The following describes each of the headings contained within Table 3:
 Tool – tool name
 † Denotes a tool that supports the logical acquisition of a UICC
 ‡ Denotes a tool that supports the logical acquisition of a UICC and the creation
of a Cellular Network Isolation Card (CNIC)
 Acquisition Level – level(s) at which the tool performs data extractions: 1- Manual
extraction, 2 – Logical extraction, 3 – Physical extraction, 4 – Chip-off, 5 – Micro Read
 Network Type – acquisition of devices operating over specified networks
 Forensic Tool – is the tool specifically designed for forensic acquisition
 Examination/Analysis – provides the examiner with the ability to perform
examination or analysis of acquired data
 Reporting – provides the examiner with the ability to generate reports
 3rd Party Tool Image Analysis (3PIA) – supports importing of raw data produced
from another manufacturer’s tool
 Chinese Chipset Support (CCS) – mobile devices containing Chinese chipsets are
increasing as they continue to flood the international market. Some mobile forensic
tools provide either a logical and/or physical extraction solution.
 Cables/Hardware Available (C/HW) – cables are provided
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
Table 3: Mobile Device Forensic Tools
Acquisition Level
Network Type
Forensic Tool
ART 1     N/A  N/A
Current tool list available at:
Eclipse 1     N/A  N/A
Project-A-Phone 1     N/A  N/A
STE3000 FAV 1     N/A  N/A
ZRT2 1     N/A  N/A
2       C/HW
2       C/HW
BitPIM 2    
9   
2       C/HW
2       3PIA
2       N/A
BlackLight 2       3PIA
2       C/HW
Oxygen Forensic
Suite (Analyst)
2       CCS
SD iPhone
2       N/A
2       3PIA, C/HW
2       C/HW
9 When Read-Only mode is activated
10 This tool only performs a logical extraction and analysis of UICCs.
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
Acquisition Level
Network Type
Forensic Tool
2       C/HW
Current tool list available at:
2       C/HW
UFED Classic
2       C/HW
UFED Touch
2       C/HW
USIM Detective†
2       C/HW
WinMoFo 2       
XRY Logical‡
2       C/HW
2       N/A
2/3       C/HW
TNT† 2/3       CCS, C/HW
Device Seizure‡
2/3       3PIA, C/HW
2/3       3PIA, C/HW
Lantern 2/3       3PIA
2/3      
Tarantula 2/3       CCS, C/HW
UFED Classic
2/3      
UFED Touch
Ultimate‡ 2/3      
XRY Complete‡
2/3       CCS, C/HW
11 iOS device acquisition only.
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
Acquisition Level
Network Type
Forensic Tool
CDMA Workshop 3       
Cell Phone
Analyzer12† 3       3PIA
BeeProg2 4     
FlashPAK III 4     
NFI Memory
Toolkit 4     
PC 3000 Flash 4     C/HW
SD FlashDoctor 4     C/HW
NAND Flash
Reader 4     
UP-828 4     
† Denotes a tool that supports the logical acquisition of a UICC
‡ Denotes a tool that supports the logical acquisition of a UICC and the creation of a CNIC
MISC: 3rd Party Tool Image Analysis (3PIA), Chinese Chipset Support (CCS), Cables/Hardware Available (C/HW)
3.2 UICC Tools
A few mobile forensics tools deal exclusively with UICCs. These tools perform a direct read
of a UICC’s contents via a Personal Computer/Smart Card (PC/SC) reader, as opposed to an
indirect read via the mobile device. The richness and scope of data acquired varies with the
capabilities and features of the tool. The majority of UICC exclusive tools acquire the
following data: International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI), Integrated Circuit Card ID
(ICCID), Abbreviated Dialing Numbers (ADN), Last Numbers Dialed (LND), SMS messages,
and Location Information (LOCI) [Aye12].
Most tools provide additional information such as deleted SMS messages, properly rendered
foreign language SMS and EMS messages. They also attempt to translate certain data such as
country and network operator codes into meaningful names, and provide other facilities such
as PIN administration.
CSIM partitions on UICCs are being used with increasing frequency for LTE enabled mobile
devices. At this time, few tools support the extraction of CSIM partition data as most only
12 This tool only performs data analysis.
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
support extraction of GSM and USIM partitions. CSIM data may prove to be of increasing
forensic importance as this technology evolves.
3.3 Obstructed Devices
The following sections discuss techniques for bypassing an obstructed device i.e., a mobile
device that requires successful authentication using a password or some other means to obtain
access to the device. A number of ways exist to recover data from obstructed devices. These
methods fall into one of three categories: software-based, hardware-based and investigative.
Common obstructed devices include those with missing identity modules, PIN-enabled
UICCs, or an enabled mobile device lock. Password locked and encrypted memory cards
provide a user with additional means to protect data. This protection may make recovery of
such data more complex. Content encryption capabilities are offered as a standard feature in
many mobile devices or may be available through add-on applications. Software and
hardware-based methods are often directed at a particular device or narrow class of device.
As mobile forensics tools have evolved, they have begun to provide automated functions
allowing examiners to bypass many security mechanisms as a part of their products. For
instance, some tools provide an automated function to recover passwords from locked mobile
devices. In developing a method, the following sections provide actions that should be
considered for determining possible approaches.
3.3.1 Software and Hardware Based Methods
Software-based methods used to break or bypass authentication mechanisms have begun to
appear. For instance, some tools provide an automated function to recover passwords from
locked mobile devices. This type of functionality varies greatly between mobile forensic tools
and the devices models that are supported.
Hardware-based methods involve a combination of software and hardware to break or bypass
authentication mechanisms and gain access to the device. For example, the value of a mobile
device lock can be readily recovered from a memory dump of certain devices, allowing for a
follow-on logical acquisition. JTAG and flasher boxes are often used this way to circumvent
authentication mechanisms. Device-specific attacks, such as cold boot attacks, exist to bypass
authentication mechanisms. Cold boot attacks have the ability to recover passwords from
locked Android based devices by cooling the device 10 degrees below Celsius followed by
disconnecting and reconnecting the battery in 500ms intervals [Mül12].
Few general-purpose hardware-based methods apply to a general class of mobile devices.
Most of the techniques are tailored for a specific model within a class.
3.3.2 Investigative Methods
Investigative methods are procedures the investigative team can apply, which require no
forensic software or hardware tools. The most obvious methods are the following:
 Ask the owner – If a device is protected with a password, PIN or other authentication
mechanism involving knowledge-based authentication, the owner may be queried for
this information during an interview.
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
 Review seized material – Passwords or PINs may be written down on a slip of paper
and kept with or near the phone, at a desktop computer used to synchronize with the
mobile device, or with the owner, such as in a wallet, and may be recovered through
visual inspection. Packaging material for a UICC or a mobile device may disclose a
PIN Unlocking Key (PUK) that may be used to reset the value of the PIN. Device
specific vulnerabilities may also be exploited, such as Smudge attacks. Smudge
attacks involved careful analysis of the surface of a touch screen device to determine
the most recent gesture lock used [Avi10].
 Ask the service provider – If a GSM mobile device is protected with a PIN-enabled
UICC, the identifier (i.e., the ICCID) may be obtained from it and used to request the
PUK from the service provider and reset the PIN. Some service providers offer the
ability to retrieve the PUK online, by entering the telephone number of the mobile
device and specific subscriber information into public web pages set up for this
purpose. Additionally, information may be obtained by contacting the device
manufacturer (e.g., Apple).
Mobile device users may choose weak passwords to secure their device such as: 1-1-1-1, 0-0-
0-0 or 1-2-3-4. Some of these numeric combinations are device default passcodes provided by
the manufacturer. It is not recommended to attempt to unlock a device using these
combinations due to several risk factors. They may include permanent wiping of mobile
device memory, enabling additional security mechanisms (e.g., PIN/PUK) or initializing
destructive applications. Mobile devices generally have a defined number of attempts before
enabling further security precautions. Before making any attempts at unlocking a mobile
device, it is recommended to consider the number of attempts left. There may be an instance
where an examiner may choose to accept these risks in cases where this is the only option for
data extraction.
3.4 Forensic Tool Capabilities
Forensic software tools strive to handle conventional investigative needs by addressing a wide
range of applicable devices. More difficult situations, such as the recovery of deleted data from
the memory of a device, may require more specialized tools and expertise and disassembly of
the device. The range of support provided, including mobile device cables and drivers, product
documentation, PC/SC readers, and the frequency of updates, may vary significantly among
products. The features offered such as searching, bookmarking, and reporting capabilities may
also vary considerably.
Discrepancies in recovering and reporting the data residing on a device have been noted in
previous testing of tools. They include the inability to recover resident data, inconsistencies
between the data displayed on workstation and that generated in output reports, truncated data
in reported or displayed output, errors in the decoding and translation of recovered data, and
the inability to recover all relevant data. On occasion, updates or new versions of a tool were
also found to be less capable in some aspects than a previous version was [Aye11, Jan09].
Tools should be validated to ensure their acceptability and reapplied when updates or new
versions of the tool become available. These results play a factor in deciding the
appropriateness of the tool, how to compensate for any noted shortcomings, and whether to
consider using a different version or update of the tool. Validating a tool entails defining and
identifying a comprehensive set of test data, following acquisition procedures to recover the
test data, and assessing the results [Aye11, Jan09]. Present-day tools seldom provide the means
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
to obtain detailed logs of data extraction and other transactions that would aid in validation. An
examiner can compare the output of several tools to verify the consistency of results. While
tool validation is time consuming, it is a necessary practice to follow. As a quality measure,
forensic specialists should also receive adequate up-to-date training in the tools and procedures
they employ.
An important characteristic of a forensic tool is its ability to maintain the integrity of the
original data source being acquired and also that of the extracted data. The former is done by
blocking or otherwise eliminating write requests to the device containing the data. The latter is
done by computing a cryptographic hash over the contents of the evidence files created and
recurrently verifying that this value remains unchanged throughout the lifetime of those files.
Preserving integrity not only maintains credibility from a legal perspective, but it also allows
any subsequent investigation to use the same baseline for replicating the analysis.
Forensic Hash Validation: A forensic hash is used to maintain the integrity of an acquisition by
computing a cryptographically strong, non-reversible value over the acquired data. After
acquisition, any changes made to the data may be detected, since a new hash value computed
over the data will be inconsistent with the old value. For non-forensic tools, hash values should be
created using a tool such as sha1sum and retained for integrity verification. Even tools labeled as
forensic tools may not compute a cryptographic hash, and in these cases an integrity hash should
be computed separately.
Note that mobile devices are constantly active and update information (e.g., the device clock)
continuously. Therefore, back-to-back acquisitions of a device will be slightly different and
produce different hash values when computed over all the data. However, hash values computed
over selected data items, such as individual files and directories, generally remain consistent.
Hash inconsistencies may occur requiring the examiner to perform an element-by-element
verification ensuring data integrity. Hash validation across multiple tools is challenging due to
proprietary reporting formats.
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
4. Preservation
Sections 4 through 7 describe the forensics process as it applies to mobile devices. Evidence
preservation is the process of securely maintaining custody of property without altering or
changing the contents of data that reside on devices and removable media. It is the first step in
digital evidence recovery. The chapter begins with a generic introduction to preservation, and
then provides more specific guidance about how to deal with mobile devices.
Preservation involves the search, recognition, documentation, and collection of electronicbased evidence. In order to use evidence successfully, whether in a court of law or a less
formal proceeding, it must be preserved. Failure to preserve evidence in its original state could
jeopardize an entire investigation, potentially losing valuable case-related information.
The remaining sections of this chapter provide supplemental information related to mobile
devices, following the paradigm of Securing and Evaluating the Scene, Documenting the
Scene, Isolation, Packaging, Transporting, and Storing Evidence, and Triage/On-Site
4.1 Securing and Evaluating the Scene
Incorrect procedures or improper handling of a mobile device during seizure may cause loss of
digital data. Moreover, traditional forensic measures, such as fingerprints or DNA testing, may
need to be applied to establish a link between a mobile device and its owner or user. If the
device is not handled properly, physical evidence may be contaminated and rendered useless.
Alertness to mobile device characteristics and issues (e.g., memory volatility) and familiarity
with tangential equipment (e.g., media, cables, and power adapters) are essential. For mobile
devices, sources of evidence include the device, UICC and associated media. Associated
peripherals, cables, power adapters, and other accessories are also of interest. All areas of the
scene should be searched thoroughly ensuring related evidence is not overlooked.
Equipment associated with the mobile device, such as removable media, UICCs, or personal
computers, may prove more valuable than the mobile device itself. Removable media varies in
size and can be easily hidden and difficult to find. Most often, removable memory cards are
identifiable by their distinctive shape and the presence of electrical contacts located on their
bodies that are used to establish an interface with the device. Personal computers may be
particularly useful in later accessing a locked mobile device, if the personal computer has
established a trusted relationship with it. For example, Apple incorporates a pairing process
whereby an existing pairing record file can be used by some tools [Zdz12] to access the mobile
device while it is still locked.
When interviewing the owner or user of a mobile device, consider requesting any security
codes, passwords or gestures needed to gain access to its contents. For example, GSM devices
may have authentication codes set for the internal memory and/or the UICC.
While securing a mobile device, caution should be taken when an individual is allowed to
handle the mobile device. Many mobile devices have master reset codes that clear the contents
of the device to original factory conditions. Master resets may be performed remotely requiring
proper precautions such as network isolation to ensure that evidence is not modified or
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
Mobile devices may be found in a compromised state that may complicate seizure, such as
immersion in a liquid. In these situations, forensic examiners should adhere to agency specific
procedures. One method involves removal of the battery preventing electrical shorting, while
the remainder of the mobile device is sealed in an appropriate container filled with the same
liquid for transport to the lab, provided the liquid is not caustic. Some compromised states,
such as blood contamination or use with explosives (i.e., as a bomb component) can pose a
danger to the technician collecting evidence. In such situations, a specialist should be consulted
for specific instructions or assistance.
Mobile devices and associated media may be found in a damaged state, caused by accidental
or deliberate action. Devices or media with visible external damage do not necessarily prevent
the extraction of data. Damaged equipment should be taken back to the lab for closer
inspection. Repairing damaged components on a mobile device and restoring the device to
working order for examination and analysis may be possible.
Undamaged memory components may also be removed from a damaged device and their
contents recovered independently. This method should be used with caution, as it is not
possible with all devices.
4.2 Documenting the Scene
Evidence must be accurately identified and accounted for. Non-electronic materials such as
invoices, manuals, and packaging material may provide useful information about the
capabilities of the device, the network used, account information, and unlocking codes for the
PIN. Photographing the crime scene in conjunction with documenting a report on the state of
each digital device and all computers encountered may be helpful in the investigation, if
questions arise later about the environment.
A record of all visible data should be created. All digital devices, including mobile devices,
which may store data, should be photographed along with all peripherals cables, power
connectors, removable media, and connections. Avoid touching or contaminating the mobile
device when photographing it and the environment where found. If the device’s display is in a
viewable state, the screen’s contents should be photographed and, if necessary, recorded
manually, capturing the time, service status, battery level, and other displayed icons.
4.3 Isolation
Many mobile devices offer the user with the ability to perform either a remote lock or remote
wipe by simply sending a command (e.g., text message) to the mobile device.
Additional reasons for disabling network connectivity include incoming data (e.g., calls or text
messages) that may modify the current state of the data stored on the mobile device. Outgoing
data may also be undesirable as the current GPS location may be delivered to an advisory
providing the geographic location of the forensic examiner.
Therefore, forensic examiners need to be aware and take precautions when securing mobile
devices mitigating the chance of data modification. The Scientific Working Group on Digital
Evidence’s (SWGDE) “Best Practices for Mobile Phone Forensics” document covers best
practice for the proper isolation of mobile devices [SWG13]. Some key implications for proper
collection are summarized below.
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
Isolating the mobile device from other devices used for data synchronization is important to
keep new data from contaminating existing data. If the device is found in a cradle or connected
with a personal computer, pulling the plug from the back of the personal computer eliminates
data transfer or synchronization overwrites. It is recommended that a capture of the personal
computer’s memory be extracted before “pulling the plug” as memory acquired generally
proves to be of significant forensic value. Caution should be used, as removing a device that if
performing a software update or backup has the potential to corrupt the mobile device’s file
system. The use of memory forensics tools for the capture of a personal computer’s memory
should be done by a qualified digital forensics professional. The mobile device should be
seized along with associated hardware. Media cards, UICCs, and other hardware residing in
the mobile device should not be removed. Also, seizing the computer that was connected to the
mobile device provides the ability to acquire synchronized data from the hard disk that might
not be obtained from the device. Any associated hardware such as media cards, UICCs, power
adapters, device sleeves, or peripherals, should be seized along with related materials such as
product manuals, packaging, and software.
Isolating a mobile device from all radio networks (e.g. WiFi, Cellular and Bluetooth) is
important to keep new traffic, such as SMS messages, from overwriting existing data. Besides
the risk of overwriting potential evidence, the question may arise whether data received on the
mobile device after seizure is within the scope of the original authority granted. Vulnerabilities
may exist that may exploit a weaknesses related to software vulnerabilities from the web
browser and OS, SMS, MMS, third-party applications and WiFi networks. The possibility of
such vulnerabilities being exploited may permit the argument that data may have been
modified during the forensic examination.
Three basic methods for isolating the mobile device from radio communication and preventing
these problems are to either: place the device in airplane mode, turn the device off, or lastly
place the device in a shielded container. Each method has certain drawbacks.
 Enabling “Airplane Mode” requires interaction with the mobile device using the
keypad, which poses some risk – less so, if the technician is familiar with the device in
question and documents the actions taken (e.g., on paper or on video). Note: airplane
mode does not prevent the system from using other services such as GPS in all cases.
 Turning off the mobile device may activate authentication codes (e.g., UICC PIN
and/or handset security codes), which are then required to gain access to the device,
complicating acquisition and delaying examination.
 Keeping the mobile device on, but radio isolated, shortens battery life due to increased
power consumption as devices unable to connect to a network raise their signal
strength to maximum. After some period, failure to connect to the network may cause
certain mobile devices to reset or clear network data that otherwise would be useful if
recovered [Smi05]. Faraday containers may attenuate the radio signal, but not
necessarily eliminate it completely, allowing the possibility of communications being
established with a cell tower, if in its immediate vicinity. The risk of improperly
sealing the Faraday container (e.g., bag improperly sealed, exposed cables connected
to the forensic workstation may act as an antenna) and unknowingly allowing access
to the cell network also exists.
To conserve power, some mobile devices are normally configured to enter energy savings
mode and shut off the display after a short period of inactivity. Some devices also shut
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
themselves off if the battery level drops below a certain threshold to protect data stored in
volatile memory, which defeats the original purpose of keeping it turned on. Keeping such a
device in the active state is troublesome, requiring periodic interaction with the device. If
additional power cannot be supplied to a device and it is turned off to conserve power and
preserve memory contents, the risk of encountering a protection mechanism when turned on
again is likely. Moreover, authentication mechanisms, such as passwords, typically cannot be
deactivated without first satisfying the mechanism (e.g., supplying the correct password).
The time maintained on the mobile device may be set independently of that from the network.
Always record the date and time shown on the handset, if it is turned on, and compare them
with a reference clock, noting any inconsistencies. If the screen is dim due to power
management, it may be necessary to press an “insignificant” key, such as the volume key, to
light the screen.
Security mechanisms, key remapping and malicious programs may be present on mobile
devices. Certain types of modifications to the software applications and operating system of
the device might affect the way it is handled. The following is a list of examples of some
classes of modifications to consider:
 Security Enhancements – Organizations and individuals may enhance their handheld
devices with add-on security mechanisms. A variety of login, biometric, and other
authentication mechanisms are available for mobile devices may be as replacements
or supplements to password mechanisms. Improper interaction with a mechanism
could cause the device to lock down and even destroy its contents. This is particularly
a concern with mechanisms that use security tokens whose presence is constantly
monitored and whose disconnection from a card slot or other device interface is
immediately acted upon.
 Malicious Programs – A mobile device may contain a virus or other malicious
software. Such malware13 may attempt to spread to other devices over wired or
wireless interfaces, including cross-platform jumps to completely different platforms.
Common utilities or functions may also be intentionally replaced with versions of
software designed to alter or damage data present on a mobile device. Such programs
could conditionally be activated or suppressed based on conditions such as input
parameters or hardware key interrupts. Watchdog applications could also be written to
listen for specific events (e.g., key chords or over the air messages) and carry out
actions such as deleting the contents of the device.
 Key Remapping – Hardware keys may be remapped to perform a different function
than the default. A key press or combination of key presses intended for one purpose
could launch an arbitrary program.
 Geo Fencing – Some devices may be configured to automatically wipe all data when
the GPS in the device determines that it has left (or entered) a specific predetermined
geographic area. This method may also employ WiFi towers for location
determination as well.
13 For more information, visit:
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
 Explosives and Booby Traps – Mobile devices may be rigged to detonate bombs
remotely or explode themselves if a specific action is carried out on the device (e.g.,
receiving an incoming call, text message or pressing a specific key chord sequence,
 Alarms – Many mobile devices have an audible alarm feature. The alarm function is
capable of powering on an inactive device, establishing network connectivity and the
potential for a remote wipe.
The following sections 4.3.1 through 4.3.3 discuss the use and characteristics of radio isolation
containers and cellular network isolation techniques.
4.3.1 Radio Isolation Containers
A field test on the effectiveness of various mobile phone shielding devices (i.e., a tool designed
to act as a Faraday cage) was conducted at Purdue University. There are many shielding
devices that claim to radio isolate a mobile device unfortunately these tools do not always
successfully prevent network communication [Kat10]. The tests conducted at Purdue used
multiple shielding devices with mobile devices operating over three of the largest U.S.
providers while varying the distance from the provider’s towers.
The majority of the test cases proved that the shielding devices tested did not prevent network
communication in all cases, and SMS messages most often penetrated the device while
shielded, followed by voice calls and MMS messages. Three reasons why the shielding
devices may fail are due to: the materials not providing enough attenuation, leaks or seams in
the shield or the conductive shield acting as an antenna.
While many manufacturers claim the effectiveness of their shielding device it is important to
understand the effectiveness of the isolation device is based upon attenuating signal between
specific decibels. Therefore, the effectiveness of the isolation containers tested were not 100%
effective in most cases and devices used to preserve evidence require verification.
Some of the products mentioned in the above paper have since been improved to provide a
more effective radio isolation solution. Examiners should test their own products to validate
that they are working properly before use.
4.3.2 Cellular Network Isolation Techniques
A number of techniques exist for isolating a mobile device from cell tower communications
[INT06]. The device should be fully charged prior to examination and consideration should be
given to having a fixed or portable power source attached. The following provides an overview
of various cellular network isolation techniques.
 Cellular Network Isolation Card (CNIC) – A CNIC mimics the identity of the original
UICC and prevents network access to/from the handset. Such cards prevent the
handset from erasing call log data due to a foreign SIM being inserted. This technique
permits acquisition without concern of wireless interference.
14 For more information, visit:
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
 Shielded Containers – A portable shielded container may allow examinations to be
conducted safely once the phone is situated inside. Cables connected to the container
must be fully isolated to prevent network communications from occurring. This
method is one of the most frequently used.
 Shielded Work Areas – Shielding an entire work area can be an expensive but
effective way to conduct examinations safely in a fixed location. A “Faraday tent” is a
cheaper alternative that also allows portability. Feeding cables into the tent is
problematic, however, since without proper isolation they can behave as an antenna,
defeating the purpose of the tent. The workspace may also be very restrictive.
 Disabling Network Service – The cellular carrier providing service to the mobile
device might be able to disable service. The service provider or network operator must
be determined and contacted with details identifying the service to be disabled (e.g.,
the equipment identifier, subscriber identifier, phone number). Such information is not
always readily available, however, and the coordination and confirmation process
may also impose delays.
 Jamming/Spoofing Devices – Emitting a signal stronger than a cell phone’s or
interfering with the signal rendering communication useless. Another technique
involves tricking the phone into thinking a “no service” signal is coming from the
nearest cell tower. Because such devices may affect communications in the
surrounding public airspace beyond the examination area, unlicensed use may be
illegal in some jurisdictions. [NIJ05]
4.3.3 Cellular Network Isolation Cards
Some tools have the ability to create a Cellular Network Isolation Card (CNIC) [SWG13].
CNICs provide cellular network isolation preventing network communication that may modify
data contained on a mobile device (e.g., remote wiping, incoming text messages). A CNIC
lacks specific data elements required to establish connectivity between the mobile device and
its associated network. For example, CNIC’s do not contain a cipher key, thus preventing
access with a cellular network. A CNIC may be required for mobile device data extraction, as
some phones are unable to boot without a UICC present.
Some tool manufacturers and vendors refer to this as a “SIM clone.” The creation of a CNIC
is not a true clone of the source UICC, because the authentication key and other user data are
not copied in the cloning process.
A CNIC may be created either by the examiner using the original UICC as a source or by
entering the data manually. Manual entry is helpful if the UICC associated with a specific
mobile device is not present. CNICs are tool specific; they are not interchangeable between the
tools of various manufacturers. CNICs vary in their effectiveness and support, based on
specific mobile devices. For example, CNICs may not be used for data extraction from TDMA
Occasionally, a UICC may not be present with a mobile device, or may be intentionally
damaged, but necessary for data acquisition. One of the most common mistakes forensic
examiners make is to insert a foreign UICC into the mobile device to facilitate data acquisition.
Some mobile devices are linked to a specific UICC. When this linkage exists, booting a mobile
device with a foreign UICC causes data elements such as: call logs (missed, incoming and
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
outgoing calls) and SMS messages present within the internal memory of the mobile device to
be erased [Rei08].
A better approach is to create a substitute UICC (i.e., CNIC) to use with the mobile device that
mimics key characteristics of the original UICC, tricking the device to accept it as the original.
Most mobile forensic tools provide the forensic examiner with the ability to create a CNIC.
Substituting UICCs, sometimes referred to as CNICs, may be useful in a number of situations:
 If a mobile device’s UICC is missing or damaged and is required for acquisition with
a forensic tool, creation of a CNIC permits data to be recovered from the handset.
 If the UICC for a device is present, but requires a PUK code, a substitute UICC can be
created providing acquisition to proceed without having to contact the service
provider for the PUK.
 If cellular network isolation is required (e.g., avoiding incoming calls or text
messages) a CNIC provides a method permitting acquisition of data from the handset
while simultaneously denying cellular network authentication.
 If a forensic tool accesses the UICC during the acquisition process, using a CNIC in
the handset eliminates the possibility of the original being modified (e.g., status flag of
SMS messages modified from unread to read).
The values by which the mobile device correlates to the previously inserted UICC are the
ICCID and the IMSI [Rei08]. Often only one of these values is used. Both identifiers are
unique and used to authenticate the user to the network. While the minimum data needed to
create a UICC may be simply one of these two values, some mobile devices may require
additional data to be populated on the CNIC to be properly recognized. The possibility exists
that data, other than user data, may change on the handset as the result of inserting a CNIC
4.4 Packaging, Transporting, and Storing Evidence
Once the mobile device is ready to be seized, the forensic specialist should seal the device in
an appropriate container and label it appropriately according to agency specifications.
Due to the volatile nature of some mobile devices, they should immediately be checked into a
forensic laboratory for processing and the power requirements should be discussed with the
evidence custodian. Battery powered devices held in storage for more than a day risk power
depletion and data loss, unless a process is in place to avoid this outcome.
Storage facilities that hold evidence should provide a cool, dry environment appropriate for
valuable electronic equipment. All evidence should be in sealed containers in a secure area
with controlled access.
4.5 On-Site Triage Processing
Currently many organizations are challenged with large backlogs of digital forensics casework.
An on-site triage solution is being employed more and more world-wide to accommodate for
this exponential growth in digital forensic caseload. Triaging involves performing a data
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
extraction (i.e., Manual or Logical) on-scene followed immediately by a preliminary analysis
of the data extracted. Logical extraction tools are providing additional capabilities to use
keywords and specific known hashes alerting the on-scene examiner immediately to potential
issues that need to be addressed. Where possible, devices supporting encryption, such as
Android and iOS devices, should be triage processed at the scene if they are found in an
unlocked state, as the data may no longer be available to an investigator once the device’s
screen is locked, or if the battery exhausts. Deploying the use of field forensics tools to either
acquire the device, or establish a trusted relationship with the device, will ensure that the data
can be accessed at a later time, after the device has locked. [Zdz12].
On-Site Triage is especially useful in identifying:
 Media most likely to contain evidence
 Those investigations that require a more detailed and technical examination
 The investigations that could be subject of limited examination by qualified
 Material requiring urgent investigation
 Examinations suitable for outsourcing
 The extent of the assistance the unit will need to provide to an investigation [ACP11]
On-Site Triage processing benefits include:
 Reduced laboratory workload – Digital forensic laboratory submissions may be
reduced when nothing of interest is found on-scene and the level of suspicion is low
 Exigency – On-scene examiners have actionable results immediately
 Better leveraging of existing resources – Intelligence resources are enhanced through
the use of keywords/hash lists
 Reduced training costs – Triage tools are typically designed to require less training
than deeper analysis tools and techniques
 Reduced unit cost – Triage tools are frequently more affordable than deeper analysis
capable counterparts
 Live collection opportunity – Devices are often presented in an unlocked state
affording the on-site examiner the potential to extract more data before the locking
mechanism is activated
Organizations may wish to develop some sort of “scoring” method to aid with the
prioritization of on-site triage examinations. This should be developed on a per-organization
basis and should be reviewed and updated to accommodate changes.
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
4.6 Generic On-Site Decision Tree
Figure 7 illustrates an example of an on-site decision tree that may be used as a general
guideline for organizations and agencies. This provides a starting point intended for
customization allowing alignment with existing policies and procedures. The following list
describes some of the actions and decision points contained within the tree.
 Unlocked/Undamaged – Is the device in an unlocked state and functional permitting a
manual or logical data extraction?
 Urgent – Do circumstances exist such that data extraction is required on site?
 Lab less than 2 hours away – Can the mobile device be transported to a forensics
laboratory in less than 2 hours?
 Tool/Training – Is the device supported by the tool and has the examiner received
proper training?
 Contact Expert – The on-site examiner should contact an expert for additional
assistance and guidance.
 Battery More than 50% – Does the device show that it has more than 50% remaining
battery power?
 Need More Data – After the extraction is successful and the examiner has reviewed
the results, is additional information or analysis required?
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
Figure 7: Generic Triage Decision Tree
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
5. Acquisition
Acquisition is the process of imaging or otherwise obtaining information from a mobile device
and its associated media. Performing an acquisition at the scene has the advantage that loss of
information due to battery depletion, damage, etc. during transportation and storage is avoided.
Off-site acquisitions unlike a laboratory setting may be challenging in finding a controlled
setting in which to work with the appropriate equipment while satisfying additional
prerequisites. For the purpose of this discussion, a laboratory environment is assumed
throughout this chapter.
The forensic examination begins with the identification of the mobile device. The type of
mobile device, its operating system, and other characteristics determine the route to take in
creating a forensic copy of the contents of the device. The type of mobile device and data to be
extracted generally dictates which tools and techniques should be used in an investigation.
5.1 Mobile Device Identification
To proceed effectively, mobile devices need to be identified by the make, model, and service
provider. If the mobile device is not identifiable, photographing the front, back and sides of the
device may be useful in identifying the make, model and current state (e.g., screen lock) at a
later time. Individuals may attempt to thwart specialists by altering the mobile device to
conceal its true identity. Device alteration may range from removing manufacturer labels to
filing off logos. In addition, the operating system and applications may be modified or in rare
situations completely replaced, and appear differently as well as behave differently than
expected. These modifications should be taken into consideration on a case-by-case basis.
If the mobile device is powered on, the information appearing on the display may aid in mobile
device identification. For example, the manufacturer’s or service provider’s name may appear
on the display, or the screen layout may indicate the family of operating system used.
Information such as the manufacturer’s label may be found in the battery cavity (e.g., make,
model, IMEI, MEID). Removing the battery from the cavity of a mobile device, even when
powered off, may affect its state, particularly the contents of volatile memory. Most mobile
devices keep user data in non-volatile memory (i.e., NAND). If the mobile device is powered
on, battery removal will power it off, possibly causing an authentication mechanism to trigger
when powered back on.
Other clues that allow identification of a mobile device include such things as: manufacturer
logos, serial numbers, or design characteristics (e.g. candy bar, clam shell). Overall, knowing
the make and model helps to limit the potential service providers, by differentiating the type of
network the device operates over (i.e., GSM, non-GSM), and vice versa. Synchronization
software discovered on an associated computer may also help to differentiate among operating
system families. Further means of identification include the following:
 Device Characteristics – The make and manufacturer of a mobile device may be
identified by its observable characteristics (e.g., weight, dimensions, and form factor),
particularly if unique design elements exist. Various web sites contain databases of
mobile device that may be queried based on selected attributes to identify a particular
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
device and obtain its specifications and features.15 Coverage is considerable, but not
extensive nor complete, and may require consulting more than one repository before
making a match.
 Device Interface – The power connector can be specific to a manufacturer and may
provide clues for device identification. With familiarization and experience, the
manufacturers of certain mobile devices may be readily identified. Similarly, the size,
number of contacts, and shape of the data cable interface are often specific to a
particular manufacturer and may prove helpful in identification.
 Device Label – For mobile devices that are inactive, information obtained from
within the battery cavity may be of assistance, particularly when coupled with an
appropriate database. The manufacturer’s label often lists the make and model number
of the mobile device and also unique identifiers, such as the Federal Communications
Commission Identification Number (FCC ID) and an equipment identifier (IMEI or
MEID). The FCC and equipment identifiers may be found on mobile devices sold in
the U.S. domestic market.
For all mobile devices that use a UICC, the identity module is typically located under
the battery and imprinted with a unique identifier called the Integrated Circuit Card
Identification (ICCID). For powered on GSM and UMTS phones, the International
Mobile Equipment Identifier (IMEI) may be obtained by keying in *#06#. Similar
codes exist for obtaining the Electronic Serial Number (ESN) or Mobile Equipment
Identifier (MEID) from powered on CDMA phones. Various sites on the Internet
offer databases that provide information about the mobile device based on an
identifier, such as the following:
 The IMEI is a 15-digit number that indicates the manufacturer, model type, and
country of approval for GSM devices. The initial 8-digit portion of the IMEI,
known as the Type Allocation Code (TAC), gives the model and origin. The
remainder of the IMEI is manufacturer specific, with a check digit at the end
[GSM04]. A database lookup service is available from the GSM numbering plan
Web site.16
 The ESN is a 32-bit identifier recorded on a secure chip in a mobile device by the
manufacturer. The first 8-14 bits identify the manufacturer and the remaining bits
represent the assigned serial number. Many mobile devices have codes that can be
input into the handset to display the ESN. Hidden menus may also be activated on
certain mobile devices by placing them in “test mode” through the input of a
code. Besides the ESN, other useful information such as the phone number of the
device may be obtained. Manufacturer codes may be checked online at the
Telecommunications Industry Association Web site.
15 For more information, visit:,, and
16 For more information, visit
17 For more information, visit
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
 The ICCID of the UICC may be up to 20 digits long. It consists of an industry
identifier prefix (89 for telecommunications), followed by a country code, an
issuer identifier number, and an individual account identification number
[ITU06]. The country and network operator name may be determined by the
ICCID. If the ICCID does not appear on the UICC, it may be obtained with a
UICC acquisition tool. The GSM numbering plan Web site supports ICCID
queries for this information.18
 The first 3 characters of the FCC ID are the company code; the next 14 are the
product code. The FCC provides a database lookup service that can be used to
identify a device manufacturer and retrieve information about the mobile device,
including photos, user manual, and radio frequency test results.19
 MEID consists of a set of characters 56-bits in length (14 hex digits). It contains
three fields, including an 8-bit regional code (RR), a 24-bit manufacturer code,
and a 24-bit manufacturer-assigned serial number. The check digit (CD) is not
considered part of the MEID. The MEID was created to replace ESNs, as all
ESN’s were exhausted by November 2008.
 Carrier Identification – The carrier for a mobile device may have their logo printed
on the exterior. This is traditionally displayed prominently to allow for advertising and
branding. This may provide the examiner with insight on which carrier the mobile
device operates. Mobile devices may be unlocked and possibly re-flashed to operate
using a competing carrier. One method to make this determination is to examine the
UICC if present. Most carriers imprint their logo on the front of the UICC.
Additionally, extraction and analysis of the ICCID provides further confirmation.
 Reverse Lookup – The Number Portability Administration Center (NPAC) provides
an automated phone system for law enforcement agencies to determine the current
service provider assigned to a number and obtain contact information.20
This service
covers both U.S. and Canadian phone numbers. If the telephone number of the mobile
device is known, a reverse lookup may be used to identify the network operator and
the originating city and state. For example, FoneFinder™ is a service to obtain such
The network operator’s web site typically contains lists of supported
devices that may be used to narrow down and possibly identify the mobile device in
question. Because phone numbers may be ported among service providers, in many
situations more up-to-date information is required.
5.2 Tool Selection and Expectations
Once the make and model of the mobile device are known, available manuals should be
retrieved and studied. The manufacturer’s web site is a good place to begin. Typing the model
number into a search engine may also reveal a significant amount of information about the
mobile device. As mentioned earlier, the device being acquired largely dictates the choice of
18 For more information, visit
19 For more information, visit
20 For more information, visit:
21 For more information, visit
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
forensic tools. The following criteria have been suggested as a fundamental set of requirements
for forensic tools, and should be considered when a choice of tools is available:
 Usability – the ability to present data in a form that is useful to an investigator
 Comprehensive – the ability to present all data to an investigator so that both
inculpatory and exculpatory evidence can be identified
 Accuracy – the quality of the output of the tool has been verified
 Deterministic – the ability for the tool to produce the same output when given the
same set of instructions and input data
 Verifiable – the ability to ensure accuracy of the output by having access to
intermediate translation and presentation results
 Tested – the ability to determine if known data present within the mobile device
internal memory is not modified and reported accurately by the tool
Experimenting with various tools on test devices to determine which acquisition tools work
efficiently with specific mobile device types is highly recommended. Besides gaining
familiarity with the capabilities of the tool, experimentation allows special purpose search
filters and custom configurations to be setup before use in an actual case. In addition, any
needed software updates from the manufacturer can be installed.
Established procedures should guide the technical process of acquisition, as well as the
examination of evidence. New circumstances may arise sporadically that require adjustment to
existing procedures, and in some situations require new procedures and methods to be devised.
Some examples include: UICCs being permanently bonded into a mobile device, mobile
devices capable of supporting multiple UICCs and mobile devices that block logical
acquisition ports until a connection is made with a cell tower. Procedures must be tested to
ensure that the results obtained are valid and independently reproducible. Testing should occur
on the same model of mobile device before attempting procedures on the case device. The
development and validation of the procedures should be documented and include the following
steps [DOJ08]:
 Identifying the task or problem
 Proposing possible solutions
 Testing each solution on an identical test device and under known control conditions
 Evaluating the results of the test
 Finalizing the procedure
5.3 Mobile Device Memory Acquisition
Mobile devices are often submitted for laboratory processing with only specific items
requested for recovery, such as call logs or graphics. If any doubt or concerns exist about the
requested data, contacting the submitter for clarification is recommended. Though it is not
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
always necessary to recover all available data, a complete acquisition avoids having to redo the
process later if additional data is requested. For examinations involving a limited scope search
warrant (e.g., only text messages), a full memory data extraction may be completed but care
should be taken to only report items covered by the warrant.
To acquire data from a mobile device, a connection must be established to the device from the
forensic workstation. Before performing an acquisition, the version of the tool or device being
used should be documented, along with any applicable patches or errata from the manufacturer
applied to the tool. As mentioned earlier, caution should be taken to avoid altering the state of a
mobile device when handling it, for example, by pressing keys that may corrupt or erase data.
Once the connection has been established, the forensic software suite or device may proceed to
acquire data from the mobile device.
The date and time maintained on the mobile device is an important piece of information. The
date and time may have been obtained from the network or manually set by the user. Owners
may manually set the day or time to different values from the actual ones yielding misleading
values in the call and message records found on the mobile device. If the device was on when
seized, the date and time maintained and differences from a reference clock should have
already been recorded. Nevertheless, confirmation at the time acquisition may prove useful. If
the mobile device was off when seized, the date and time maintained and differences from a
reference clock should be recorded immediately when first powered on. Actions taken during
acquisition, such as removal of the battery to view the device label, may affect the time and
date values.
Mobile devices may provide the user with an interface for a memory card. Mobile device
forensic tools that acquire the contents of a resident memory card normally perform a logical
acquisition. If the device is found in an active state, the mobile device internal memory should
be acquired before removing and performing a physical acquisition of the associated media
(e.g., microSD Card). Otherwise, if the device is found in a power off state, a physical
acquisition of the removable media should be performed before the internal handset memory
of the mobile device is acquired. With either type of acquisition, the forensic tool may or may
not have the capability to decode recovered data stored on the card (e.g., SMS text messages),
requiring additional manual steps to be taken.
After an acquisition is finished, the forensic specialist should confirm that the contents of a
device were captured correctly. On occasion, a tool may fail without any error notification and
require the specialist to reattempt acquisition. It is advisable to have multiple tools available
and be prepared to switch to another if difficulties occur with the initial tool.
Invariably, not all relevant data viewable on a mobile device using the available menus may be
acquired and decoded through a logical acquisition. Manually scrutinizing the contents via the
device interface menus while video recording the process not only allows such items to be
captured and reported, but also confirms that the contents reported by the tool are consistent
with observable data. Manual extraction must always be done with care, preserving the
integrity of the device in case further, more elaborate acquisitions are necessary.
The contents of a mobile device’s memory often contain information, such as deleted data, that
is not recoverable through either a logical or manual extractions. Lacking a software tool able
to perform a physical acquisition, it may be necessary to turn to hardware-based techniques.
Two techniques commonly used are acquisition through a standardized JTAG test interface, if
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supported on the device, and acquisition by directly reading memory that has been removed
from the device [Bro12].
5.3.1 GSM Mobile Device Considerations
Mobile devices that do not require a UICC are relatively straightforward as the acquisition
entails a single device. Mobile devices requiring UICCs are more complex. There are two
items that must be examined: the handset and the UICC. Depending on the state of the mobile
device (i.e., active, inactive) the handset and UICC may be acquired jointly or separately. It is
generally accepted to process the UICC first while the device is in an inactive state.
If the mobile device is active, a joint acquisition of the handset and UICC contents should be
acquired first. A direct acquisition recovers deleted messages present on a UICC, while an
indirect acquisition via the handset does not. The UICC must be removed from the mobile
device and inserted into an appropriate reader for direct acquisition.
A well-known forensic issue that arises when performing a joint acquisition is that the status of
unread text messages change between acquisitions. The first acquisition may alter the status
flag of an unread message to read. Reading an unread text message from a UICC indirectly
through the handset causes the operating system of the device to change the status flags.
UICCs that are read directly by a tool do not make these modifications. One way to avoid this
issue is to omit selecting the recovery of UICC memory when performing the joint acquisition
(if the tool allows such an option) [Rei08].
If the mobile device is inactive, the contents of the UICC may be acquired independently
before that of the handset. The UICC acquisition should be done directly through a PC/SC
reader. The handset acquisition should be attempted without the UICC present. Many devices
permit an acquisition under such conditions, allowing PIN entry for the UICC to be bypassed,
if it were enabled. If the acquisition attempt is unsuccessful, the UICC may be reinserted and a
second attempt made. Performing separate independent acquisitions (i.e., acquiring the UICC
before acquiring the contents of the handset) avoids any operating system related forensic
issues associated with an indirect read of UICC data. However, removing the SIM can
reportedly cause data to be deleted on some mobile devices [Cas11].
5.3.2 iOS Device Considerations
Since mid-2009, beginning with the release of the iPhone 3G[s], Apple has shipped all iOS
devices with a dedicated cryptographic chip, making hardware accelerated encryption possible.
Apple has incorporated this accelerated cryptography into the operating system, marketed as a
feature named Data Protection. Data Protection is the combination of hardware-accelerated
encryption and an authenticated cryptographic scheme, allowing any file or piece of
information to be encrypted or decrypted with a separate key.
Files protected with data protection are encrypted with a random file key, which is then
encrypted using a higher tier class key, and stored as a file tag with the file. Passwords (and
other sensitive small data) are stored on the device are encrypted using a similar approach, and
are stored in the iOS keychain, a device key escrow mechanism built into the operating system.
Files and keychain elements are both protected by one of a number of access control keys,
which are also encrypted in a way that incorporates the user’s device passcode. The passcode
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must be known in order to decrypt the key hierarchy protecting these select files and keychain
elements, and also to disable the device’s GUI lock.
The implementation of Data Protection has been criticized for a number of design flaws and
was originally exploited as shown by Zdziarski in 2009 [Zdz12]. Due to the simplicity of fourdigit PINs or short passwords, brute forcing the device passcode is often a computationally
feasible task. In many cases, brute forcing a four-digit PIN has shown to take at most 20
Nevertheless, this encryption scheme poses significant challenges to the forensic investigator.
The forensic examiner should be aware of these issues as well as the impact that this
encryption has on any iOS based device presented for examination. Supported devices include
iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 (both GSM and CDMA models), first-gen iPad, and latest releases
of iPod Touch (3rd and 4th generation). All of these devices have the option to perform a
remote wipe of data contained within them. When activated, the UID is destroyed and 256 bits
of the key are destroyed leaving the examiner with an extremely complex decryption problem.
To avoid such scenarios, it is recommended that radio communications are blocked or disabled
prior to an examination as well as during transportation to the lab for examination.
When data protection is active, the file key is obliterated when the file is deleted, leaving
encrypted and generally unrecoverable file contents in unallocated space, which render
traditional carving techniques for deleted files useless. Data however can often be found
residing inside allocated data containers (i.e., SQLite Tables) and should not be discounted or
ignored as part of any examination. Recovery of such data can be challenging as SQLite data
recovery may be somewhat automated (e.g., epilog), often manual recovery may be the only
option. Fortunately for the forensic investigator, a significant portion of user data is stored
within allocated data containers and garbage collection is not generally performed on these
Apple also offers a feature to users to encrypt all backup data when using iTunes (iOS 4 and
later). This option, when used will only present encrypted files from some forensic extraction
tools. These backups can be decrypted using a brute force attack. Tools exist to perform this
attack using GPU acceleration to facilitate a faster brute force attack. The backup encryption
feature only applies to data sent through the device’s backup service, however a number of
other services run on the device that provide clear text copies of data, even if backup
encryption is active. If the acquisition tool is capable of communicating to these other services,
a significant amount of clear text data can be recovered, even if the backup password is not
5.3.3 Android Device Considerations
Android is an operating system designed by Google primarily for mobile devices such as
smartphones and some tablet computers. Android was first released in 2007 and the first
Android based phone was released in October 2008. The Android operating system is open
source and Google releases a major version about once per year.
Each one of the different versions of the operating system requires slight modifications for
each family of device for full support. This has led to hundreds (if not thousands) of different
distributions in the wild.
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
Much like Apple’s iTunes Store, Android has a main application repository called the Google
Play Store. Analysis of submitted applications for soundness in the store are much lower and
have resulted in many rogue applications making their way into the mainstream application
pool. Dozens of other Android application repositories exist as well. This has led to thousands
of applications that may be encountered by the examiner.
Most of the Android user and application data will be found in SQLite tables located in
separate folders for each installed application. This may require the examiner to dump all data
contained in all SQLite tables and perform a search of the resultant data searching for relevant
material as less than 5% of the applications are supported by the majority of mobile forensic
Since the operating system is designed for touch screen use, the default protection scheme for
the device is a gesture password lock. The lock presents a 3X3 grid for the user to trace his/her
finger connecting several cells of the grid to form a pattern. Once the correct pattern is traced,
the phone is unlocked. Some forensics tools exist to obtain the gesture.key file to unlock the
Most of the access methods for a locked Android device rely on debug mode to be active on
the device to begin the forensics extraction process. A few tools have been released that can
enable debug mode from a locked device; however, the number of supported models is very
Most Android based mobile devices have removable microSD memory cards. The data
contained on the microSD Card should not be overlooked as they frequently contain a great
deal of unencrypted and unprotected data. As best practice, the microSD card should be writeblocked and imaged using standard digital forensic techniques. The image may then be
examined using traditional digital forensic tools, as the media is generally a single partition
formatted using exFAT.
Getting into locked devices is also possible using JTAG methods and tools to obtain all of the
data from the memory of the handset. This bypasses the locked USB port (USB Debugging
turned off) and probes Test Access Ports between the USB Port and the CPU. JTAG provides
communication to NAND memory through the CPU allowing memory to be read.
Many tools are able to parse much of the information presented in the Android OS however all
tools suffer the same problem as iOS based devices — multitudes of applications. Hundreds of
applications are added every week. Understanding and reverse engineering each one of them
one-at-a-time is a time consuming process. Many vendors have chosen to focus on parsing the
data from the more popular communication applications (e.g., WhatsApp, FaceBook, etc.).
The more advanced examiner should be aware of this shortcoming and be prepared to perform
testing and reverse engineering for some cases where support for specific applications may not
yet exist.
5.3.4 UICC Considerations
Similar to a mobile device, to acquire data from a UICC, a connection must be established
from the forensic workstation to the UICC, using a PC/SC reader. As before, the version of the
tool being used should be documented, along with any applicable patches or errata from the
manufacturer applied to the tool. Once the connection has been established, the forensic
software tool may proceed to acquire data from the UICC.
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
Capturing a direct image of the UICC data is not possible because of the protection
mechanisms built into the module. Instead, forensic tools send command directives called
Application Protocol Data Units (APDUs) to the UICC to extract data logically, without
modification, from each elementary data file of the file system. The APDU protocol is a simple
command-response exchange. Each element of the file system defined in the GSM standards
has a unique numeric identifier assigned, which can be used to walk through the file system
and recover data by referencing an element and performing some operation, such as reading its
Because UICCs are highly standardized devices, few issues exist with regard to a logical
acquisition. The main consideration is selecting a tool that reports the status of any PINs and
recovers the data of interest. Vast differences exist in the data recovered by UICC tools, with
some recovering only the data thought to have the highest relevance in a typical investigation,
and others performing a complete recovery of all data, even though much of it is network
related with little investigative value.
5.4 Tangential Equipment
Tangential equipment includes devices that contain memory and are associated with a mobile
device. The three main categories are memory cards, host computers to which a mobile device
has synchronized its contents and cloud-based storage.
Smartphones may provide an interface that supports removable media (e.g., microSD or
MMC), which may contain significant amounts of data. Memory cards are typically flash
memory, used as auxiliary user file storage, or as a means to convey files to and from the
device. Data may be acquired with the use of a write-blocked media reader and a forensic
The data contained on a mobile device is often present on a personal computer, due to the
capability of mobile devices to synchronize or otherwise share information among one or more
host computers. Such personal computers or workstations are referred to as synched devices.
Because of synchronization, a significant amount of data on a mobile device may be present on
the owner’s laptop or personal computer and recovered using a conventional computer
forensic tool for hard drive acquisition and examination [Bad10].
5.4.1 Synched Devices
Synchronization refers to the process of resolving differences in certain classes of data, such as
e-mail residing on two devices (i.e., a mobile phone and a personal computer), to obtain a
version that reflects any actions taken by the user (e.g., deletions or additions) on one device or
the other. Synchronization of information may occur at either the record level or the file level.
When done at the file level, any discrepancies from the last synchronization date and time
result in the latest version automatically replacing the older version. Occasionally manual
intervention may be needed if both versions were modified independently since the last
synchronization occurred. Record level synchronization is done similarly, but with more
granularity, whereby only out-of-date parts of a file are resolved and replaced.
Mobile devices are typically populated with data from the personal computer during the
synchronization process. A significant amount of informative data may reside locally on a
personal computer. Data from the mobile device may also be synchronized to the computer,
through user-defined preferences in the synchronization software. Because the synchronized
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contents of a mobile device and personal computer tend to diverge quickly over time,
additional information may be found in one device or the other.
The synchronization software and the device type determine where mobile device files are
stored on the PC. Each synchronization protocol has a default installation directory, but the
location may be user specified.
5.4.2 Memory Cards
Memory card storage capacity ranges from 128MB and up. As technological advances are
made, such media becomes physically smaller and offers larger storage densities. Removable
media extends the storage capacity of mobile devices allowing individuals to store additional
files beyond the device’s built-in capacity and to share data between compatible devices.
Some forensics tools are able to acquire the contents of memory cards; many are not. If the
acquisition is logical, deleted data present on the card is not recovered. Fortunately, such media
can be treated similarly to a removable disk drive and imaged and analyzed using conventional
forensic tools with the use of an external media reader.
A physical acquisition of data present on removable media provides the examiner the potential
to search the contents of the media and potentially recover deleted files. One drawback is that
mobile device data, such as SMS text messages may require manual decoding or a separate
decoding tool to interpret. A more serious issue is that content protection features incorporated
into the card may block the recovery of data. For instance, BlackBerry™ devices provide the
user with the ability to encrypt data contained on the removable media associated with the
mobile device. Table 4 gives a brief overview of various storage media in use today.
Table 4: Memory Cards
Name Characteristics
MMCmicro Dime size (length-14 mm, width-12 mm, and thickness-1.1 mm)
10-pin connector and a 1 or 4-bit data bus
Requires a mechanical adapter to be used in a full size MMCplus slot
Secure Digital (SD) Card Postage stamp size (length-32 mm, width-24 mm, and thickness2.1mm)
9-pin connector, 1 or 4-bit data bus
Features a mechanical erasure-prevention switch
MiniSD Card Thumbnail size (length-21.5 mm, width-20 mm, and thickness-1.4 mm)
9-pin connector, 1 or 4-bit data bus
Requires a mechanical adapter to be used in a full size SD slot
MicroSD (formerly
Transflash) and
Dime size (length-15 mm, width-11 mm, and thickness-1 mm)
6-pin connector, 1 or 4-bit data bus
Memory Stick Micro Dime size (length-12.5 mm, width-15 mm, and thickness-1.2 mm)
11-pin connector, 4-bit data bus
5.5 Cloud Based Services for Mobile Devices
Mobile cloud computing is the combination of mobile networks and cloud computing allowing
user applications and data to be stored on the cloud (i.e., internet servers) rather than the
mobile device memory. This data may be stored across geographically diverse locations.
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
Cloud computing environments are complex in their design and frequently geographically
disperse. Often, storage locations for cloud computing are chosen due to lowest cost and data
redundancy requirements. One issue may be identification of the location of the data. This is
an emerging field.
Cloud storage opens numerous possibilities for mobile device application developers beyond
mobile device memory limitations. As mobile applications evolve data retrieval becomes
seamless to the user and not apparent if data is stored on the cloud or the internal memory of
the mobile device.
There are several factors within cloud computing environments that challenge forensics
examiners requiring a hybrid approach to include both live and “dead box” forensic
techniques. Additionally, recovery of user data stored in the cloud may become more
problematic based on laws and regulations. Retrieval and analysis of cloud based data should
follow agency specific guidelines on cloud forensics.
The mobile device forensics examiner should not discount cloud based data left behind (e.g.,
browser cache or other forensics artifacts) that may be present on tangential equipment
enabling an examiner to piece together what has occurred on a device.
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
6. Examination and Analysis
The examination process uncovers digital evidence, including that which may be hidden or
obscured. The results are gained through applying established scientifically based methods and
should describe the content and state of the data fully, including the source and the potential
significance. Data reduction, separating relevant from irrelevant information, occurs once the
data is exposed. The analysis process differs from examination in that it looks at the results of
the examination for its direct significance and probative value to the case. Examination is a
technical process that is the province of a forensic specialist. However, analysis may be done
by roles other than a specialist, such as the investigator or the forensic examiner.
The examination process begins with a copy of the evidence acquired from the mobile device.
Fortunately, compared with classical examination of personal computers or network servers,
the amount of acquired data to examine is much smaller with mobile devices. Because of the
prevalence of proprietary case file formats, the forensic toolkit used for acquisition will
typically be the one used for examination and analysis. While interoperability among the
acquisition and examination facilities of different tools is possible, only a few tools support this
feature. Examination and analysis using 3rd party tools are generally accomplished by
importing a generated mobile device memory dump into a mobile forensics tool that supports
rd party mobile device images.
The forensic examiner will need information about the case and the parties involved to provide
a starting point for potential evidence that might be found. Conducting the examination is a
partnership between the forensic analyst or examiner and the investigator. The investigator
provides insight into the types of information sought, while the forensic examiner provides the
means to find relevant information that might be on the system.
The understanding gained by studying the case should provide ideas about the type of data to
target and specific keywords or phrases to use when searching the acquired data. Depending
on the type of case, the strategy varies. For example, a case about child pornography may
begin with browsing all of the graphic images on the system, while a case about an Internetrelated offense might begin with browsing all Internet history files.
6.1 Potential Evidence
Mobile device manufacturers typically offer a similar set of information handling features and
capabilities, including Personal Information Management (PIM) applications, messaging and
e-mail, and web browsing. The set of features and capabilities vary based on the era in which
the device was manufactured, the version of firmware running, modifications made for a
particular service provider, and any modifications or applications installed by the user. The
potential evidence on these devices may include the following items:
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 Subscriber and equipment
 Date/time, language, and
other settings
 Phonebook/Contact
 Calendar information
 Text messages
 Outgoing, incoming, and
missed call logs
 Electronic mail
 Photos
 Audio and video recordings
 Multi-media messages
 Instant messaging
 Web browsing activities
 Electronic documents
 Social media related data
 Application related data
 Location information
 Geolocation data
Even esoteric network information found on a UICC may prove useful in an investigation. For
example, if a network rejects a location update from a phone attempting to register itself, the
list of forbidden network entries in the Forbidden PLMNs (Public Land Mobile Networks)
elementary file is updated with the code of the country and network involved [3GP07]. This
list is maintained on the UICC and is due to service being declined by a foreign provider. The
mobile device of an individual suspected of traveling to a neighboring country might be
checked for this information.
The items present on a device are dependent not only on the features and capabilities of the
mobile device, but also on the voice and data services subscribed to by the user. For example,
prepaid phone service may rule out the possibility for multi-media messaging, electronic mail,
and web browsing. Similarly, a contract subscription may selectively exclude certain types of
service, though the phone itself may support them.
Two types of computer forensic investigations generally take place. The first type is where an
incident has occurred but the identity of the offender is unknown (e.g., a hacking incident). The
second is where the suspect and the incident are both known (e.g., a child-porn investigation).
Prepared with the background of the incident, the forensic examiner and analyst may proceed
toward accomplishing the following objectives:
 Gather information about the individual(s) involved {who}.
 Determine the exact nature of the events that occurred {what}.
 Construct a timeline of events {when}.
 Uncover information that explains the motivation for the offense {why}.
 Discover what tools or exploits were used {how}.
In many instances the data is peripheral to an investigation or useful in substantiating or
refuting the claims of an individual about some incident. On occasion, direct knowledge,
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
motivation, and intention may be established. Most of the evidence sources from mobile
devices are: contact data, call data, messaging, pictures, video, social media, or Internet-related
information. User applications potentially provide other evidence sources. User files placed on
the device for rendering, viewing, or editing are other important evidence sources. Besides
graphic files, other relevant file content includes audio and video recordings, spreadsheets,
presentation slides, and other similar electronic documents.
Installed executable programs may also have relevance in certain situations. Often times the
most important data recovered is that which links to information held by the service provider.
Service providers maintain databases for billing or debiting accounts based on call logs, which
can be queried using the subscriber or equipment identifiers. Similarly, undelivered SMS text
messages, multi-media, or voice messages may also be recoverable. This may allow an
examiner to validate their findings as the data obtained from the device may be verified with
the data obtained from the service provider.
Enhanced 911: Enhanced 911 (E911) is a technology advanced by the U.S. Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) enabling mobile devices to process 911 calls and to provide
the geographic location of the handset. Therefore, all U.S. based mobile devices possess the
ability to establish cellular voice communication when dialing 911 regardless of their service status
(i.e., active, inactive). Additionally, GSM and other UICC dependent devices may also establish
cellular voice communication by dialing 911 without the presence of a UICC.
All U.S. based cellular carriers are required to handle calls regardless of the mobile device
customer’s specific carrier. Under the rules, all mobile devices manufactured for sale in the United
States after February 13, 2000, that are capable of operating in an analog mode, including dualmode and multi-mode handsets, must include this special method for processing 911 calls22
In situations where 911 was dialed on a mobile device, the location information (i.e., the latitude
and longitude of the device or cell tower) for the call may be of interest to a forensic investigator.
Outgoing 911 calls may or may not be logged in the memory of the mobile device or UICC.
6.2 Applying Mobile Device Forensic Tools
Once a copy of the acquisition results are available, the next steps involve searching the data,
identifying evidence, creating bookmarks, and developing the contents of a final report.
Knowledge and experience with the tools used for examination are extremely valuable, since
proficient use of the available features and capabilities of a forensic tool can greatly speed the
examination process.
It is important to note that forensic tools have the potential to contain some degree of error in
their operation. For example, the implementation of the tool may have a programming error;
the specification of a file structure used by the tool to translate bits into data comprehensible by
the examiner may be inaccurate or out of date; or the file structure generated by another
program as input may be incorrect, causing the tool to function improperly. Experiments
conducted with mobile device forensic tools indicate a prevalence of errors in the formatting
22 For more information, visit:
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
and display of data [Aye11, Jan09]. Therefore, having a high degree of trust and understanding
of the tool’s ability to perform its function properly is essential. The Computer Forensics Tool
Testing (CFTT) project at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) produces
specification, test methods and test reports that provide a foundation for toolmakers to improve
tools, users to make informed choices, and provide interested parties with an overview of any
anomalies found. CFTT has spent several years researching and testing forensic tools capable
of acquiring data from the internal memory of mobile devices and Subscriber Identity Modules
A knowledgeable individual may tamper with device information, such as purposefully
modifying a file extension to foil the workings of a tool, altering the date/time of the mobile
device to falsify timestamps associated with logged activities, creating false transactions in the
memory of the mobile device or its UICC or utilizing a wiping tool to remove or eliminate data
from memory. Seasoned experience with a tool provides an understanding of its limitations,
allowing an examiner to compensate for them and minimize errors to achieve the best possible
To uncover evidence, specialists should gain a background of the suspect, offense and
determine a set of terms for the examination. Search expressions should be developed in a
systematic fashion, such as using contact names that may be relevant. By proceeding
systematically, the specialist creates a profile for potential leads that may unveil valuable
findings. Forensic Examination of Digital Evidence – A Guide for Law Enforcement,
produced by the U.S. Department of Justice [DOJ08], offers the following suggestions for the
analysis of extracted data:
 Ownership and possession – Identify the individuals who created, modified, or
accessed a file, and the ownership and possession of questioned data by placing the
subject with the device at a particular time and date, locating files of interest in nondefault locations, recovering passwords that indicate possession or ownership, and
identifying contents of files that are specific to a user.
 Application and file analysis – Identify information relevant to the investigation by
examining file content, correlating files to installed applications, identifying
relationships between files (e.g., e-mail files to e-mail attachments), determining the
significance of unknown file types, examining system configuration settings, and
examining file metadata (e.g., documents containing authorship identification).
 Timeframe analysis – Determine when events occurred on the system to associate
usage with an individual by reviewing any logs present and the date/time stamps in
the file system, such as the last modified time. Besides call logs, the date/time and
content of messages and e-mail can prove useful. Such data can also be corroborated
with billing and subscriber records kept by the service provider.
 Data hiding analysis – Detect and recover hidden data that may indicate knowledge,
ownership, or intent by correlating file headers to file extensions to show intentional
obfuscation; gaining access to password-protected, encrypted, and compressed files;
gaining access to steganographic information detected in images; and gaining access
to reserved areas of data storage outside the normal file system.
The capabilities of the tool and the richness of its features, versus the operating system and
type of device under examination, determines what information can be recovered, identified,
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
and reported, and the amount of effort needed. The search engine plays a significant role in the
discovery of information used for the creation of bookmarks and final reporting. For example,
some tools used to search for textual evidence identify and categorize files based on file
extension, where others use a file signature database. The latter feature is preferable since it
eliminates the possibility of missing data because of an inconsistent file name extension (e.g.,
eliminating a text file whose extension was changed to that of a graphics or image file).
Similarly, the ability for the tool to find and gather images automatically into a common
graphics library for examination is extremely useful.
Searching data for information on incriminating or exculpatory evidence takes patience and
can be time consuming. Some tools have a simple search engine that matches an input text
string exactly, allowing only for elementary searches to be performed. Other tools incorporate
more intelligent and feature rich search engines, allowing for generalized regular expression
patterns (grep) type searches, including wildcard matches, filtering of files by extension,
directory and batch scripts that search for specific types of content (e.g., e-mail addresses,
URLs). The greater the tool’s capabilities, the more the forensic examiner benefits from
experience with and knowledge of the tool.
6.3 Call and Subscriber Records
Records maintained by the service provider capture information needed to accurately bill a
subscriber or, in the case of a prepaid service plan, debit the balance. The records collected are
referred to as call detail records (CDRs), which are generated by the switch handling an
originating call or SMS message from a mobile device. For some service providers, the records
may also include fixed line, international gateway, and voice over IP transaction information.
While the content and format of these records differ widely from one service provider to
another, the fundamental data needed to identify the subscriber/device initiating the call, the
initial cell servicing the call, the number dialed, and the duration of the call is captured.
Detailed information such as the identifier of the cell (i.e., the BTS) and the sector involved are
often included. Appendix C gives an example of the data elements of a CDR, specified in the
GSM standards [ETS99]. As one can see, considerable discretion about what is implemented
is left open to the service providers and network operators.
The retention period for maintaining call detail and other types of records varies among service
providers [GSM05]. However, the period is generally limited, requiring immediate action to
avoid data loss. One should act quickly to have the cellular carrier preserve any data that can
be used to identify communications that have occurred and are linked to the parties of interest,
stressing non-disclosure of that action to the account subscriber [Ala03, Ala04]. The data
available may include subscriber records, the content of email servers (i.e., undelivered email),
email server logs, or other IP address authentication logs, the content of SMS and MMS
message servers, and the content of voicemail servers. Note that certain types of undelivered
content, such as voicemail, may be considered in transit from a legal standpoint in some
jurisdictions, and obtaining or listening to them without the proper authority may be treated as
an illegal interception of communications [Ala03]. While the USA PATRIOT Act eliminated
this issue at the federal level, state statutes may be intentionally more restrictive or not yet be
realigned completely with the federal statute.23
23 For more information, visit:
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
For example, CDRs will contain information such as: sender and receiver phone numbers,
time and duration of the call, call type (i.e., voice, SMS), etc. CDRs may be obtained from
U.S. service providers through their law enforcement point of contact, with the appropriate
legal documentation. Procedures may vary among states in the U.S., and new laws regarding
proper seizure are continually legislated. Procedures also vary for getting records from service
providers and network operators located in other countries. Close and continuing consultation
with legal counsel is advised. Various online law enforcement forums can also be helpful in
identifying points of contact and sharing tips on procedures for accurately obtaining the
required data.24
Besides call detail records, subscriber records maintained by a service provider can provide
data useful in an investigation. For example, for GSM systems, the database usually contains
the following information about each customer [Wil03]:
 Customer name and address
 Billing name and address (if other than customer)
 User name and address (if other than customer)
 Billing account details
 Telephone number (MSISDN)
 UICC serial number (ICCID)
 PIN/PUK for the UICC
 Services allowed
Other useful information, including phone numbers (i.e., work or home), contact information
(e.g., email address), and credit card numbers used, may also be retained in subscriber records.
Pay-as-you-go prepaid phones purchased anonymously over the counter may also have useful
information maintained with their accounts, which was supplied by the subscribers, such as the
credit card numbers used for purchases of additional time or an email address registered online
for receipt of notifications. Gaining access to the call records of prepaid phones should not be
ruled out.
CDRs and other records maintained by the service provider can be requested using subscriber
or equipment identifier information seized or acquired from a mobile device or UICC.
Subscriber information often used for this purpose includes the IMSI from the UICC and the
mobile device number (i.e., MSISDN). Equipment identifiers used are the ESN or IMEI of the
phone and the serial number (i.e., ICCID) of the UICC. The search criteria used could be, for
example, all calls received by a certain phone number (e.g., that of a victim) or all calls
handled by a base station responsible for a particular cell (i.e., to determine who was in a
24 For more information, visit: and
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
certain area at a certain time) [Wil03]. The analysis of the initial set of records obtained usually
leads to additional requests for related records of other subscribers and equipment, based on
the data uncovered. For example, frequent calls to a victim’s mobile device from one or more
other mobile devices before a homicide would logically lead to interest in obtaining the records
of the caller(s).
CDRs can be analyzed for a variety of purposes. For example, a service provider may use
them to understand the calling patterns of their subscribers and the performance of the network
[Aja06]. Call detail records can also be used with cell site tower information obtained from the
service provider to translate cell identifiers into geographical locations for the cells involved
and identify the general locale from which calls were placed. While plotting call record
locations and information onto a map can sometimes be useful, it does not necessarily provide
a complete and accurate picture. Cell towers can service phones at distances of up to 35
kilometers (approximately 21 miles) and may service several distinct sectors. Radio frequency
coverage maps maintained by the service provider can be obtained to create a more exact
portrayal of the data for the sectors involved. The results of the data analysis can be used to
determine the location of the mobile device at a given time [Oco09]. The analysis can also help
to establish timelines and identify possible co-conspirators [Mil08]. A change of cell identifier
between the beginning and the end of a call, over a series of calls, may also indicate a general
direction of travel or pattern of behavior.
The boundaries of a cell are somewhat variable. Various factors, such as terrain, seasonal
changes, antenna performance, and call loading, affect the coverage area of cells and the
plausible locale to associate with a call record. Detailed field tests and measurements may be
required to ensure an accurate analysis. Tools exist to aid law enforcement in performing cell
site analysis and mapping activities independently. In some situations, such as densely
populated urban locations involving microcells or picocells with a limited coverage area,
location determination may be relatively straightforward by the very nature of the network.
Identifying the geographical coverage of specific cells may provide valuable information when
combined with call detail records, geographically establishing plausible locations with some
degree of certainty for the times involved. Professional criminals are aware of these
capabilities and may attempt to turn them to their advantage by having someone use their
mobile device to establish a false alibi. Attempts at evasion may also occur. A common ploy
used is to purchase, use, and quickly dispose of pay-as-you-go prepaid phones to minimize
exposure or use stolen phones. To obfuscate usage and complicate analysis of records, a
variety of different UICCs may be swapped among different GSM/UMTS mobile devices.
Careful analysis of the call records in conjunction with other forms of available data may be
useful establishing the relationship between the mobile device and its owner. For example, call
detail records of pay-as-you-go prepaid phones are maintained by and available from network
providers, the same as for contract subscriptions. By analyzing the patterns and content of
communications and mapping the dat to known associates of a suspect, ownership of such
phones is possible to establish. Other traditional forms of forensic evidence (e.g.,
fingerprinting, DNA) may also be used to establish ownership.
Network traffic information quantifying the amount of data transferred to/from the device is
also frequently reported and may aid an investigator in specific investigations.
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
7. Reporting
Reporting is the process of preparing a detailed summary of all the steps taken and conclusions
reached in the investigation of a case. Reporting depends on maintaining a careful record of all
actions and observations, describing the results of tests and examinations, and explaining the
inferences drawn from the data. A good report relies on solid documentation, notes,
photographs and tool-generated content.
Reporting occurs once the data has been thoroughly searched and relevant items bookmarked.
Many forensic tools come with a built-in reporting facility that usually follows predefined
templates and may allow customization of the report structure. Permitted customizations
include allowing for organization logos and report headers and selection of styles and structure
to provide a more professional look tailored to the organization’s needs. Reports generated by
a forensic tool typically include items from the case file, such as the specialist’s name, a case
number, a date and title, the categories of evidence, and the relevant evidence found. Report
generation typically either outputs all of the data obtained or allows examiners to select
relevant data (i.e., bookmarked items) for the final report. Including only relevant findings in
the report minimizes its size and lessens confusion for the reader.
The software-generated contents are only one part of the overall report. The final report
contains the software-generated contents along with data accumulated throughout the
investigation that summarizes the actions taken, the analysis done, and the relevance of the
evidence uncovered. Ideally, the supporting documentation is in electronic form and able to be
incorporated directly into the report.
Reporting facilities vary significantly across mobile device acquisition applications. Report
generation typically can render a complete report in one of several common formats (e.g., .txt,
.csv, .doc, .html, .pdf) or at least provide a means to export out individual data items to
compose a report manually. A few tools include no means of report generation or data export
and instead require examiners to capture individual screenshots of the tool interface for later
assembly into a report format. Regardless of how reports are generated, checking that the
finalized report is consistent with the data presented in the user interface representation is vital
to identify and eliminate any possible inconsistencies that may appear [Aye11].
The ability to modify a pre-existing report and incorporate data (e.g., images, video stills)
captured by alternative means is advantageous. Auxiliary acquisition techniques are sometime
required to recover specific data types, as mentioned earlier. For example, video recording a
manual examination documents the recovery of data that the automated forensic tool may not
have acquired. Video editing software allows still images to be captured for inclusion into the
report. Pictures could also be taken of the manual exam using a digital camera; though this
process is less efficient and may not document the entire process, it may be the only method
The type of data determines whether it is presentable in a hard-copy format. Today, many
popular mobile devices are capable of capturing audio and video. Such evidentiary data (e.g.,
audio, video) cannot easily be presented in a printed format and instead should be included
with the finalized report on removable media (e.g., CD-R, DVD-R, or flash drive) along with
the appropriate application for proper display.
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
Reports of forensic examination results should include all the information necessary to identify
the case and its source, outline the test results and findings, and bear the signature of the
individual responsible for its contents. In general, the report may include the following
information [DOJ08]:
 Identity of the reporting agency
 Case identifier or submission number
 Case investigator
 Identity of the submitter
 Date of evidence receipt
 Date of report
 Descriptive list of items submitted for examination, including serial number, make,
and model
 Identity and signature of the examiner
 The equipment and set up used in the examination
 Brief description of steps taken during examination, such as string searches, graphics
image searches, and recovering erased files.
 Supporting materials such as printouts of particular items of evidence, digital copies of
evidence, and chain of custody documentation
 Details of findings:
 Specific files related to the request
 Other files, including deleted files, that support the findings
 String searches, keyword searches, and text string searches
 Internet-related evidence, such as Web site traffic analysis, chat logs, cache files,
e-mail, and news group activity
 Graphic image analysis
 Indicators of ownership, which could include program registration data
 Data analysis
 Description of relevant programs on the examined items
 Techniques used to hide or mask data, such as encryption, steganography, hidden
attributes, hidden partitions and file name anomalies
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
 Report conclusions
Digital evidence, as well as the tools, techniques and methodologies used in an examination is
subject to being challenged in a court of law or other formal proceedings. Proper
documentation is essential in providing individuals the ability to re-create the process from
beginning to end. As part of the reporting process, making a copy of the software used and
including it with the output produced is advisable when custom tools are used for examination
or analysis, should it become necessary to reproduce forensic processing results.
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
8. References
The references below are divided into two sections. The first section contains bibliographic
citations. The second section contains the URLs that were footnoted throughout the guide.
8.1 Bibliographic Citations
[3GP07] 3GPP (2007), Specification of the Subscriber Identity Module – Mobile Equipment
(SIM – ME) interface, 3rd Generation Partnership Project, TS 11.11 V8.14.0
(Release 1999), Technical Specification, (2007-06).
[ACP11] Good Practice and Advice Guide for Managers of e-Crime Investigation, January
2011, <URL:>.
[Aja06] Ireti Ajala, Spatial Analysis of GSM Subscriber Call Data Records, Directions
Magazine, Mar 07, 2006, <URL:>.
[Ala03] Searching Voicemail and E-mail, Point of View, Alameda County District
Attorney’s Office, Winter 2003, <URL:>.
[Ala04] Phone, E-mail, and Internet Records, Point of View, Alameda County District
Attorney’s Office, Fall 2004, <URL:>.
[Alz07] Marwan Al-Zarouni, Introduction to Mobile Phone Flasher Devices and
Considerations for their Use in Mobile Phone Forensics, Australian Digital
Forensics Conference, December 2007, <URL:>.
[Avi10] Adam J. Aviv, Katherine Gibson, Evan Mossop, Matt Blaze, and Jonathan M.
Smith, Smudge Attacks on Smartphone Touch Screens,
4th USENIX Workshop on Offensive Technologies, August 2010, <URL:>.
[Aye11] Rick Ayers, Computer Forensic Tool Testing (CFTT) Program<URL:>.
[Aye12] Rick Ayers, Forensics@NIST <URL:
[Bad10] Mona Bader, Ibrahim Baggili, iPhone 3GS Forensics: Logical Analysis using Apple
iTunes Backup Utility, Small Scale Digital Device Forensics Journal, Vol. 4, No.1,
September 2010, <URL:>.
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
[Bel10] Graeme B. Bell, Richard Boddington, Solid State Drives: The Beginning of the End
for Current Practice in Digital Forensic Recovery?, The Journal of Digital Forensics
Security and Law, Volume 5, Number 3, 2010.
[Bre06] Marcel Breeuwsma, Forensic Imaging of Embedded Systems using JTAG
(boundary-scan), Digital Investigation, Volume 3, Issue 1, 2006, pp.32-42.
[Bre07] Marcel Breeuwsma, Martien de Jongh, Coert Klaver, Ronald van der Knijff, Mark
Roeloffs, Forensic Data Recovery from Flash Memory, Small Scale Digital Device
Forensics Journal, Vol. 1, No. 1, June 2007, <URL:>.
[Bro08] Sam Brothers, How Cell Phone “Forensic” Tools Actually Work – Cell Phone Tool
Leveling System, Mobile Forensic World, Chicago, IL, March, 2008.
[Bro12] Sam Brothers, How Cell Phone Forensics Tools Work, AAFS 2012, Washington,
[Cas11] Eoghan Casey, Benjamin Turnbull, Digital Evidence and Computer Crime, Third
Edition, Elsevier Inc., 2011 <URL:
[Dan09] Dankar S., Ayers, R., Mislan, R., Hashing Techniques for Mobile Device Forensics,
Small Scale Digital Device Forensics Journal, 2009.
[DOJ08] Electronic Crime Scene Investigation: A Guide for First Responders, Second
Edition, NCJ 219941, April 2008, <URL:>.
[Eld12] Bob Elder, Chip-Off and JTAG Analysis for Mobile Device Forensics, Evidence
Technology Magazine, May-June 2012, <URL:
[ETS99] Digital cellular telecommunications system (Phase 2) – Event and call data (GSM
12.05 version 4.3.1), European Telecommunication Standard (ETS), ETSI TS 100
616 V7.0.1, July 1999.
[Fio09] Salvatore Fiorillo, Theory and practice of flash memory mobile forensics,
Australian Digital Forensics Conference, December 2009, <URL:>.
[For10] Dario Forte, Andrea de Donno, Chapter 10: Mobile Network Investigations,
Handbook of Digital Forensics and Investigation, Edited by Eoghan Casey,
Elsevier Academic Press, 2010.
[Gib02] K. Edward Gibbs, David F. Clark, Chapter 10: Wireless Netowrk Analysis,
Handbook of Digital Forensics and Investigation, Edited by Eoghan Casey,
Academic Press, 2002.
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
[GSM04]IMEI Allocation and Approval Guidelines, Version 3.3.0, GSM Association,
Permanent Reference Document TW.06, December 2004, <URL:>.
[GSM05] GSME Position On Data Retention – Implications for The Mobile Industry, GSM
Europe, GSM Association, 23 August 2005, <URL:
[Haa04] Job de Haas, Reverse Engineering ARM Based Devices, Black Hat Europe, May
2004, <URL:
[Hoo11] Andrew Hoog, Katie Strzempka, 2011, iPhone and iOS Forensics: Investigation,
Analysis and Mobile Security for Apple iPhone, iPad and iOS Devices, Elsevier, Jul
25, 2011>.
[ITU06] ITU-T (2006), Automatic International Telephone Credit Cards, International
Telecommunications Union, Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T),
Recommendation E.118, (02/01).
[INT06] Mobile Phone Forensics, 47th EWPITC meeting – Final report, European Working
Party on IT Crime, INTERPOL, September 7, 2006.
[Jan09] Wayne Jansen, Aurélien Delaitre, Mobile Forensic Reference Materials: A
Methodology and Reification, NIST Interagency Report IR-7617, October 2009,
[Jon10] Kevin Jonkers, The forensic use of mobile phone flasher boxes5, digital
investigation 6 (2010) 168–178, <URL:>.
[Kat10] Eric Katz, A Field Test of Mobile Phone Shielding Devices, 2010, College of
Technology Masters Thesis, Paper 33, <URL:
[Kni10] Ronald van der Knijff, Chapter 8: Embedded Systems Analysis, Handbook of
Digital Forensics and Investigation, Edited by Eoghan Casey, Elsevier Academic
Press, 2010.
[Man08] Kevin Mansell, Darren Lole, Fiona Litchfield, Recovering Deleted Data From Fat
Partitions Within Mobile Phone Handsets Using Traditional Imaging Techniques,
F3 Annual Conference, November 11-13, 2008, <URL:>.
[Mcc05] Paul McCarthy, Forensic Analysis of Mobile devices, BS CIS Thesis, University of
South Australia, School of Computer and Information Science, Mawson Lakes,
October 2005.
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
[Mcc06] Paul McCarthy, Jill Slay, Mobile devices: admissibility of current forensic
procedures for acquiring data, the Second IFIP WG 11.9 International Conference
on Digital Forensics, 2006.
[Mel04] Barrie Mellars, Forensic Examination of Mobile devices, Digital Investigation,
Vol.1, No. 4, 2004, pp. 266-272.
[Mil08] Christa Miller, The other side of mobile forensics, Cygnus Business Media, July 1,
2008, <URL:>.
[Mül12] Tilo Müller, Michael Spreitzenbarth, and Felix C. Freiling, Forensic Recovery of
Scrambled Telephones, <URL:>.
[Mur13] Cindy Murphy, Developing Process for Mobile Device Forensics, 2013, <URL: Device Forensic
Process v3.0.pdf>.
[NIJ05] No More ‘Cell’ Phones, TechBeat, Winter 2005, National Law Enforcement and
Corrections Technology Center, <URL:>.
[Oco04] Thomas R. O’connor, Admissibility of Scientific Evidence Under Daubert, North
Carolina Wesleyan College, March 2004, <URL:>.
[Oco09] Terrence P. O’Connor, Provider Side Cell Phone Forensic, Small Scale Digital
Device Forensics Journal, Vol. 3, No. 1, June 2009, <URL:>.
[Orm09] By Justin Ormont (Own work) CC-BY-SA-3.0 <URL:> or GFDL <URL:>, via Wikimedia Commons.
[Rei08] Lee Reiber, SIMs and Salsa, MFI Forum, Mobile Forensics, Inc., September 2008.
[Smi05] Greg Smith, Switch On ~ Update = Lose Evidence, Mobile Telephone Evidence
Newsletter, INDEX NO: VOL 4-MTE05- 2006, Trew & Co, 2005, <URL:
[Smi06] Greg Smith, Handset Password Unlock, Mobile Telephone Evidence Newsletter,
INDEX NO: VOL 4-MTE03- 2006 supp: 002, Trew & Co, 2006.
[SWG13] SWGDE, SWGDE Best Practices for Mobile Phone Forensics, <URL:
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
[Tha10] John (Zeke) Thackray, Flasher Boxes: Back to Basics in Mobile Phone Forensics,
Digital Forensic Investigator News, July 13, 2010, <URL:>.
[Wil03] Svein Willassen, Forensics and the GSM Mobile Telephone System, International
Journal of Digital Evidence, Volume 2, Issue 1, 2003, <URL:
[Wil05] Svein Willassen, Forensic Analysis of Mobile Phone Internal Memory, IFIP WG
11.9 International Conference on Digital Forensics, National Center for Forensic
Science, Orlando, Florida, February 13-16, 2005, in Advances in Digital Forensics,
Vol. 194, Pollitt, M.; Shenoi, S. (Eds.), XVIII, 313 p., 2006.
[Zdz12] Jonathan Zdziarski, iOS Forensic Investigative Methods, 2012, <URL:>.
[Zim11] Scott Zimmerman, Dominick Glavach, Cyber Forensics in the Cloud, December
2011, IAnewsletter, Vol 14, No 1, <URL:>.
8.2 Footnoted URLs
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
Appendix A. Acronyms
APDU – Application Protocol Data Unit
API – Application Programming Interface
ASCII – American Standard Code for Information Interchange
BCD – Binary Coded Decimal
BSC – Base Station Controller
BTS – Base Transceiver Station
CDMA – Code Division Multiple Access
CDR – Call Detail Record
CF – Compact Flash
CNIC – Cellular Network Isolation Card
CSIM – CDMA Subscriber Identity Module
EDGE – Enhanced Data for GSM Evolution
EMS – Enhanced Messaging Service
ESN – Electronic Serial Number
ETSI – European Telecommunications Standards Institute
eUICC – Embedded Universal Integrated Circuit Card
FCC ID – Federal Communications Commission Identification Number
GPRS – General Packet Radio Service
GPS – Global Positioning System
GSM – Global System for Mobile Communications
HTTP – HyperText Transfer Protocol
ICCID – Integrated Circuit Card Identification
IDE – Integrated Drive Electronics
iDEN – Integrated Digital Enhanced Network
IM – Instant Messaging
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
IMAP – Internet Message Access Protocol
IMEI – International Mobile Equipment Identity
IMSI – International Mobile Subscriber Identity
IrDA – Infra Red Data Association
JTAG – Joint Test Action Group
LCD – Liquid Crystal Display
LED – Light Emitting Diode
LND – Last Numbers Dialed
MD5 – Message Digest 5
MEID – Mobile Equipment Identifier
MMC – Multi-Media Card
MMS – Multimedia Messaging Service
MSC – Mobile Switching Center
MSISDN – Mobile Subscriber Integrated Services Digital Network
NFC – Near Field Communication
OS – Operating System
PC – Personal Computer
PC/SC – Personal Computer/Smart Card
PDA – Personal Digital Assistant
PIM – Personal Information Management
PIN – Personal Identification Number
PPI – Pixels Per Inch
POP – Post Office Protocol
RAM – Random Access Memory
ROM – Read Only Memory
SD – Secure Digital
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
SDK – Software Development Kit
SHA1 – Secure Hash Algorithm, version 1
SIM – Subscriber Identity Module
SMS – Short Message Service
SSD – Solid State Drive
TDMA – Time Division Multiple Access
UICC – Universal Integrated Circuit Card
UMTS – Universal Mobile Telecommunications System
URL – Uniform Resource Locator
USB – Universal Serial Bus
USIM – UMTS Subscriber Identity Module
WAP – Wireless Application Protocol
WiFi – Wireless Fidelity
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
Appendix B. Glossary
Acquisition – A process by which digital evidence is duplicated, copied, or imaged.
Analysis – The examination of acquired data for its significance and probative value to the
Authentication Mechanism – Hardware or software-based mechanisms that force users to
prove their identity before accessing data on a device.
Bluetooth – A wireless protocol that allows two similarly equipped devices to communicate
with each other within a short distance (e.g., 30 ft.).
Brute Force Password Attack – A method of accessing an obstructed device by attempting
multiple combinations of numeric/alphanumeric passwords.
Buffer Overflow Attack – A method of overloading a predefined amount of memory storage
in a buffer, which can potentially overwrite and corrupt memory beyond the buffer’s
Cellular Network Isolation Card (CNIC) – A SIM card that isolates the device from cell
tower connectivity.
Chain of Custody – A process that tracks the movement of evidence through its collection,
safeguarding, and analysis lifecycle by documenting each person who handled the evidence,
the date/time it was collected or transferred, and the purpose for any transfers.
Closed Source Operating System – Source code for an operating system is not publically
Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) – A spread spectrum technology for cellular
networks based on the Interim Standard-95 (IS-95) from the Telecommunications Industry
Association (TIA).
Compressed File – A file reduced in size through the application of a compression algorithm,
commonly performed to save disk space. The act of compressing a file makes it unreadable to
most programs until the file is uncompressed.
Cradle – A docking station, which creates an interface between a user’s PC and PDA and
enables communication and battery recharging.
CDMA Subscriber Identity Module (CSIM) – CSIM is an application to support
CDMA2000 phones that runs on a UICC, with a file structure derived from the R-UIM card.
Deleted File – A file that has been logically, but not necessarily physically, erased from the
operating system, perhaps to eliminate potentially incriminating evidence. Deleting files does
not always necessarily eliminate the possibility of recovering all or part of the original data.
Digital Evidence – Electronic information stored or transmitted in binary form.
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
Electromagnetic Interference – An electromagnetic disturbance that interrupts, obstructs, or
otherwise degrades or limits the effective performance of electronics/electrical equipment.
Electronic Serial Number (ESN) – A unique 32-bit number programmed into CDMA
phones when they are manufactured.
Encryption – Any procedure used in cryptography to convert plain text into cipher text to
prevent anyone but the intended recipient from reading that data.
Enhanced Data for GSM Evolution (EDGE) – An upgrade to GPRS to provide higher data
rates by joining multiple time slots.
Enhanced Messaging Service (EMS) – An improved message system for GSM mobile
devices allowing picture, sound, animation and text elements to be conveyed through one or
more concatenated SMS messages.
Examination – A technical review that makes the evidence visible and suitable for analysis; as
well as tests performed on the evidence to determine the presence or absence of specific data.
Exculpatory Evidence – Evidence that tends to decrease the likelihood of fault or guilt.
Feature Phone – A mobile device that primarily provide users with simple voice and text
messaging services.
File Signature Anomaly – A mismatch between the internal file header and its external file
name extension; a file name inconsistent with the content of the file (e.g., renaming a graphics
file with a non-graphics extension).
File System – A software mechanism that defines the way that files are named, stored,
organized, and accessed on logical volumes of partitioned memory.
Flash ROM – Non-volatile memory that is writable.
Forbidden PLMNs – A list of Public Land Mobile Networks (PLMNs) maintained on the
SIM that the mobile phone cannot automatically contact, usually because service was declined
by a foreign provider.
Forensic Copy – A bit-for-bit reproduction of the information contained on an electronic
device or associated media, whose validity and integrity has been verified using an accepted
Forensic Specialist – Locates, identifies, collects, analyzes, and examines data, while
preserving the integrity and maintaining a strict chain of custody of information discovered.
General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) – A packet switching enhancement to GSM and
TDMA wireless networks to increase data transmission speeds.
Global Positioning System (GPS) – A system for determining position by comparing radio
signals from several satellites.
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) – A set of standards for second
generation, cellular networks currently maintained by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project
Hardware Driver – Applications responsible for establishing communication between
hardware and software programs.
Hashing – The process of using a mathematical algorithm against data to produce a numeric
value that is representative of that data.
HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) – A standard method for communication between
clients and Web servers.
Image – An exact bit-stream copy of all electronic data on a device, performed in a manner
that ensures the information is not altered.
Inculpatory Evidence – Evidence that tends to increase the likelihood of fault or guilt.
Instant Messaging (IM) – A facility for exchanging messages in real-time with other people
over the Internet and tracking the progress of a given conversation.
Integrated Circuit Card ID (ICCID) – The unique serial number assigned to, maintained
within, and usually imprinted on the (U)SIM.
Integrated Digital Enhanced Network (iDEN) – A proprietary mobile communications
technology developed by Motorola that combines the capabilities of a digital cellular telephone
with two-way radio.
International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) – A unique identification number
programmed into GSM and UMTS mobile devices.
International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) – A unique number associated with every
GSM mobile phone subscriber, which is maintained on a (U)SIM.
Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) – A method of communication used to read
electronic messages stored in a remote server.
Key Chords –Specific hardware keys pressed in a particular sequence on a mobile device.
Location Information (LOCI) – The Location Area Identifier (LAI) of the phone’s current
location, continuously maintained on the (C/U)SIM when the phone is active and saved
whenever the phone is turned off.
Mobile Devices – A mobile device is a small hand-held device that has a display screen with
touch input and/or a QWERTY keyboard and may provide users with telephony capabilities.
Mobile devices are used interchangeably (phones, tablets) throughout this document.
Mobile Subscriber Integrated Services Digital Network (MSISDN) – The international
telephone number assigned to a cellular subscriber.
Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) – An accepted standard for messaging that lets users
send and receive messages formatted with text, graphics, photographs, audio, and video clips.
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
Near Field Communication (NFC) – A form of contactless, close proximity, radio
communications based on radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology.
Password Protected – The ability to protect the contents of a file or device from being
accessed until the correct password is entered.
Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) – A handheld computer that serves as a tool for reading and
conveying documents, electronic mail, and other electronic media over a communications link,
as well as for organizing personal information, such as a name-and-address database, a to-do
list, and an appointment calendar.
Personal Information Management (PIM) Applications – A core set of applications that
provide the electronic equivalents of such items as an agenda, address book, notepad, and
reminder list.
Personal Information Management (PIM) Data – The set of data types such as contacts,
calendar entries, phonebook entries, notes, memos, and reminders maintained on a device,
which may be synchronized with a personal computer.
Post Office Protocol (POP) – A standard protocol used to receive electronic mail from a
Probative Data – Information that reveals the truth of an allegation.
Push-To-Talk (PTT) – A method of communicating on half-duplex communication lines,
including two-way radio, using a “walkie-talkie” button to switch from voice reception to
transmit mode.
Removable User Identity Module (R-UIM) – A card developed for cdmaOne/CDMA2000
handsets that extends the GSM SIM card to CDMA phones and networks.
Secure Digital eXtended Capacity (SDXC) – Supports cards up to 2 TB, compared to a limit
of 32 GB for SDHC cards in the SD 2.0 specification.
Short Message Service (SMS) – A cellular network facility that allows users to send and
receive text messages of up to 160 alphanumeric characters on their handset.
SMS Chat – A facility for exchanging messages in real-time using SMS text messaging that
allows previously exchanged messages to be viewed.
Steganography – The art and science of communicating in a way that hides the existence of
the communication. For example, a child pornography image can be hidden inside another
graphic image file, audio file, or other file format.
Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) – A smart card chip specialized for use in GSM
Synchronization Protocols – Protocols that allow users to view, modify, and transfer/update
data between a cell phone and personal computer.
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
Universal Integrated Circuit Card – An integrated circuit card that securely stores the
international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI) and the related cryptographic key used to
identify and authenticate subscribers on mobile devices. A UICC may be referred to as a: SIM,
USIM, RUIM or CSIM, and is used interchangeably with those terms.
UMTS Subscriber Identity Module (USIM) – A module similar to the SIM in GSM/GPRS
networks, but with additional capabilities suited to 3G networks.
Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) – A third-generation (3G) mobile
phone technology standardized by the 3GPP as the successor to GSM.
Universal Serial Bus (USB) – A hardware interface for low-speed peripherals such as the
keyboard, mouse, joystick, scanner, printer, and telephony devices.
Volatile Memory – Memory that loses its content when power is turned off or lost.
Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) – A standard that defines the way in which Internet
communications and other advanced services are provided on wireless mobile devices.
Wireless Fidelity (WiFi) – A term describing a wireless local area network that observes the
IEEE 802.11 protocol.
Write-Blocker – A device that allows investigators to examine media while preventing data
writes from occurring on the subject media.
Write Protection – Hardware or software methods of preventing data from being written to a
disk or other medium.
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
Appendix C. Standardized Call Records
The European Telecommunications Standards Institute specification for GSM event and call
data provides detailed definitions for a variety of records needed in the administration of
subscriber related event and call data [ETS99]. Table 5 gives the record structure for a mobileoriginated call attempt, identifying and describing the name of the various fields involved and
an indication of whether the field is mandatory (M), conditional (C), or optional (O).
Other record definitions also appear in the standard. The reader is asked to consult the standard
directly for a more detailed explanation of the use of each field given in Table 5 and a better
understanding of the range of records and data involved in network administration.
Table 5: Example Record Structure
Field Key Description
Record Type M Mobile originated
Served IMSI M IMSI of the calling party
Served IMEI C IMEI of the calling ME, if available
Served MSISDN O The primary MSISDN of the calling party
Called Number M The address of the called party, e.g., the
number dialed by the calling subscriber
Translated Number O The called number after digit translation within
the MSC (if applicable)
Connected Number O The number of the connected party if different
from the Called Number
Roaming Number O The Mobile Station Roaming Number
employed to route this connection, if applicable
Recording Entity M The E.164 number of the visited MSC
producing the record
Incoming TKGP O The MSC trunk group on which the call
originated, usually from the BSS
Outgoing TKGP O The trunk group on which the call left the MSC
Location M The identity of the cell in which the call
originated including the location area code
Change of Location O A list of changes in Location Area Code / Cell
Id., each time-stamped
Basic Service M Bearer or teleservice employed
Transparency Indicator C Only provided for those teleservices which may
be employed in both transparent and nontransparent mode
ChangeOfService O A list of changes of basic service during a
connection each time-stamped
Supp. Services C Supplementary services invoked as a result of
this connection
AOC Parameters O The charge advice parameters sent to the MS
on call setup
Change of AOC Parms O New AOC parameters sent to the MS, e.g., as
a result of a tariff switch over, including the time
at which the new set was applied
MS Classmark M The mobile station classmark employed on call
Change of Classmark O A list of changes to the classmark during the
connection, each time-stamped
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
Field Key Description
Event Time Stamps C
Seizure of incoming traffic channel (for
unsuccessful call attempts)
Answer (for successful calls)
Release of traffic channel
Call Duration M The chargeable duration of the connection for
successful calls, the holding time for call
Radio Chan. Requested O The type of radio traffic channel (full / half etc.)
requested by the MS
Radio Chan. Used M The type of radio channel actually used (full or
half rate)
Change of Rad. Chan. O A list of changes, each timestamped
Cause for Termination M The reason for the release of the connection
Diagnostics O A more detailed reason for the release of the
Data Volume C The number of data segments transmitted, if
available at the MSC
Sequence No. C Partial record sequence number, only present
in case of partial records
Call Reference M A local identifier distinguishing between
transactions on the same MS
Additional Chg. Info O Charge/no charge indicator and additional
charging parameters
Record Extensions O A set of network/manufacturer specific
extensions to the record
gsmSCF address C Identifies the CAMEL server serving the
Service Key C The CAMEL service logic to be applied
Network Call Reference C An identifier to correlate transactions on the
same call taking place in different network
nodes, shall be present if CAMEL is applied
MSC Address C This field contains the E.164 number assigned
to the MSC that generated the network call
Default Call Handling O Indicates whether or not a CAMEL call
encountered default call handling – Shall be
present only if default call handling has been
Number of HSCSD
Channels Requested
C The maximum number of HSCSD channels
requested as received from the MS at call setup
Number of HSCSD
Channels Allocated
C The number of HSCSD channels allocated to
the MS at call set-up
Change of HSCSD
C A list of network or user initiated changes of
number of HSCSD channels during a
connection, each time stamped – Shall only be
present in case of an HSCSD call, if the basic
HSCSD parameters are modified due to the
user or network initiated modification procedure
Fixed Network User Rate O May be present for HSCSD connections
Air Interface User Rate
C The total Air Interface User Rate Requested by
the MS at call setup. Shall only be present for
non-transparent HSCSD connections
Channel Coding Accepted C A list of the traffic channels codings accepted
by the MS – Shall only be present for HSCSD
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
Field Key Description
Channel Coding Used C The traffic channels codings negotiated
between the MS and the network at call setup
– Shall only be present for HSCSD
Speech Version Used O Speech version used for that call
Speech Version Supported O Speech version supported by the MS with
highest priority indicated by MS
Number of DP Encountered O Number that counts how often armed detection
points (TDP and EDP) were encountered
Level of CAMEL service O Indicator for the complexity of the CAMEL
feature used
Free format Data C This field contains data sent by the gsmSCF in
the FCI message
CAMEL Call Leg
C Set of CAMEL information IEs. Each of these
IEs contains information related to one
outgoing CAMEL call leg
Guidelines on Mobile Device Forensics
Appendix D. Online Resources for Mobile Device Forensics
This appendix contains lists of online resources that may be useful to incident response
communities and law enforcement when mobile devices are encountered during an incident or
crime. The resources provide additional information on aspects of cell phone forensics.
Table 6: Technical Resource Sites
Resource URL
Digital Evidence and Forensics
High Tech Crime Consortium mail
High Tech Crime Consortium
High Technology Crime
Investigation Association


Mobile Forensics Central
National Institute of Justice
Phone Forensics Group
The Netherlands Forensic Institute’s
procedures for preservation
Secure Digital Homepage
Scientific Working Group on Digital
Mobile & Technology eDiscovery
Table 7: Databases for Identification Queries
Resource URL
Device Characteristics
IMEI Queries
ICCID Queries
FCCID Queries
Phone Carrier Finder
Phone Number Carrier Lookup


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