Expert Witness Corner: Forensic Analysis of Mobile Telephones – A Brief Guide

Mobile Telephone Handsets – The Essentials:

Modern communication devices of this form comprise of three distinct components: a finger-nail sized chip known as the ‘Subscriber Identity Module’ (SIM) that is responsible for service with the telecom network provider, the handset, which provides the user interface and memory capacity to store information, and removable memory modules that facilitate simple exchange of information and markedly improve the data storage capacity of the phone.

Many specialists argue that the mobile phone has become the new fingerprint – a case in point being Ian Huntley’s conviction for the Soham murders  in the U.K which was based partly on crucial mobile phone evidence.

Digital Evidence:

Mobile phones employ what is known as ‘flash memory’ to store data and settings. Unlike the ‘Random Access Memory’ (RAM), which is found within computers, flash memory can continue to store information even in the absence of a power source.

As mobile communication devices continue to evolve, with features like word processing and photo imaging applications becoming commonplace, the memory storage areas have become increasingly important silos of digital evidence.

The following materials can be recovered from the handset and can greatly assist in case preparations:

• Logged Incoming & Last Dialled numbers
• Text & Multimedia messages
• System Settings (including date/time/volume)
• Stored audio/visual materials
• Saved computer and data files
• Calendar and Alarm notifications
• Internet settings and websites accessed.

Common Questions:

Q: Where does evidence reside – on the handset or on the SIM?

A: Materials of evidentiary value are stored on both the SIM4 and within the handset memory. Therefore it is recommended that comprehensive evaluations of both are undertaken. The SIM will tend to contain valuable user-specific information such as network identity, whilst the handset will contain large amounts of information relating to calls made/received, texts sent/received, images/video clips created etc.

Q: Can obscene images/material be stored on a handset?

A:The prevalence of high resolution cameras on most mobile telephones has led to an increase in the number of offences being committed in relation to creation, or attempted creation, of obscene images. Assuming a standard handset with 32MB of memory, close to 500 still images could be taken and stored.

Q: Data deleted six months ago – can it be recovered?

A: Dependent upon a number of factors, such as whether the information has since been over-written, it is possible to retrieve even the oldest materials committed to the phone – including material that were never saved by the user. In most cases a surprising amount of information can be retrieved, often going back several years.

Q: Does locking the handset keep information private?

A: Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) and pass codes can be used to restrict access to the handset, but forensic assessments typically bypass such controls by interrogating the memory module directly5. At this time encrypted file-systems and data storage areas are not available in standard retail handsets.

Q: What else can the handset tell us?

A: Aside from digital evidence the presence of DNA traces on the keypad, earpiece and mouthpiece can tie a user to device. Similarly, ‘Call Data Records’ (CDRs)6 can be retrieved from the network provider, providing near post-code location information as to where and when the device was used.

Q: How do you identify the International Mobile Equipment Identity?

A: The IMEI is a 15 digit Code used to identify the phone to the network. Whilst this code can be retrieved during a forensic examination, a quick way to force the handset to display onscreen the code is to enter *#06# on the keypad7. Caution: this approach to identifying the IMEI may affect valuable evidence in storage.

Q: OK, I’ve got the basics, but where can I find the right expert to help my case?

A: There are a number of expert witness directories available, particularly online, where you can find an expert witness with the relevant experience to help you. If you can find someone recommended by a fellow professional who has used the expert before, so much the better.

Did you know?

New mobile telephones have as much as 32 megabytes of internal memory – enough to comfortably store a document with over 2,000 pages of text!

Telephone handsets will typically store user defined words that are not in a normal dictionary. Names of individuals and places are therefore often stored in this archive – a potentially valuable source of intelligence for investigators.

Ross Patel is a forensic computer consultant with Afentis Forensics. You can view the company profile and find an expert witness at X-Pro UK, the innovative expert witness directory.

Computer Forensics, Mobile Phone Forensics, Expert Witness and Data Recovery throughout the UK

HD Forensics is a computer and mobile phone forensic specialist and security consultancy company, based in the North East of England. We offer an impartial, independent and specialised professional digital forensic investigation service to both defence and prosecution clients. We provide an expert witness service for court if required. Our experts are trained and certified by Bond Solon and Cardiff University. For more details log on to .
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Non-Extreme Engineering Mobile Climbing Wall Injures Little Girl

Newcastle, CA (PRWEB) June 02, 2012

The Miami Marlins have been busy filtering questions from a climbing wall accident that caused an 11-year-old girl to fall 18 feet to the ground. News stations across the nation have been reporting the horrific video footage showing a climbing wall drop a little girl to the concrete floor, resulting in a concussion and serious back trauma. It was confirmed that the climbing wall was not an Extreme Engineering climbing wall. Video footage, filmed from the little girls fathers camera phone, caught what seemed to be a cable failure on the belay device.

Jeff Wilson, president of Extreme Engineering and the patent holder of mobile climbing walls stated, Our thoughts are with the little girl and her family. I cant speak for the climbing wall company in question, but I can say that we are proud of Extreme Engineerings safety track record and the reliability of our engineered equipment. With over 17 years in manufacturing and designing climbing wall devices and other amusement equipment, we are proactive in maintaining safety, and educating our customers so they can continue to maintain their Extreme products with safety in mind.

The climbing wall incident has been reported on ABC News, Good Morning America and NBC. Jeff Davis, the father to the little girl (Emily) who fell from the climbing wall stated, I just wanted to know she was breathing. (Report from ABC News). The media has claimed that there was a harness failure but this is extremely rare and most likely not the probable cause. Based off the video footage it seems it was either a cable failure due to lack of maintenance or a mechanical failure in the auto-belay design. It is still hard to determine on the short video clip but Im certain it was not the harness, says Wilson. Extreme Engineering is providing assistance on the accident and available for an expert opinion on the failure. Although this is not an Extreme Engineering product, I am available to answer any questions on mobile climbing walls, auto-belay systems and how this could have been preventedmy goal is to continue to keep the industry safe, says Wilson.

Jeff Wilson serves as a committee member on the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) ASTM F24 and also has served as an expert witness on various cases that focused on mechanical failures. Being the patent holder and inventor of the mobile climbing wall, auto-belay and other amusement devices, Wilson has become a resource in climbing wall safety and design. Extreme Engineering is also offering to review the climbing wall that caused the accident with a full report of what failed and caused the little girl to fall. It angers me when companies build inferior products that are not safe. There is a reason why products are engineered and designed a certain way. Not everyone can build a safe, reliable productI hate seeing the public get hurt especially if it could have been easily avoided, explains Wilson.

News reports state that the little girl suffered a concussion and serious bruising, but luckily no broken bones or internal organ damage. She is now talking and has started walking again.

With 4 best new product and 6 total industry awards in the entertainment industry, Extreme Engineering has proven to a premier provider in zip lines, climbing walls and other extreme, interactive products. Jeff Wilson is a mechanical engineer with over a dozen patents in the amusement, medical and aeronautical industry. For more information on climbing wall safety and design please feel free to email The media is welcome to contact us. Please feel free to visit We have full operating manuals, service bulletins and other safety related documents available online.