Mobile Phone Forensics – What You and Your Family Need to Know

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“Mobile phone forensics is a type of electronic data gathering for legal evidence purposes. This is a useful tool for investigators as a method of gathering criminal evidence from a trail of digital data, which is often difficult to delete. Extraction of deleted mobile phone files used as criminal evidence is the primary work of mobile phone forensics investigators”*.


Most of us will never be in a situation where law enforcement is performing digital forensics on our phones because we’ve been involved in criminal activity. However, the one thing that you and your family need to know about digital forensics is this: Everything you, or your child, do on a cell phone never really go away.  This means:


  1. Pictures taken, or even deleted, can be retrieved through the phone.
  2. Texts sent or replied to can be retrieved through the phone.
  3. Contact data for friends, families, and acquaintances can be retrieved through the phone.
  4. Emails sent and received can be retrieved through the phone.
  5. Videos taken or received through the phone can be retrieved.
  6. Snapchats, Facebook posts, and Instagram photos can be retrieved through the phone.


While you may have previously heard these statements yourself, or have included them in conversations with your child or teen: “What you post online never goes away; there’s no such thing as private on the internet; just because you deleted something, it never really goes away; text or post only what you are OK with everyone seeing”, digital forensics proves this.


Consider the following example: After the arrest of two young people, parents of the offenders surrendered their children’s smartphones (late model iPhones with less memory) and provided consent to the police department to keep their phones for the investigation. Police mobile phone forensic investigators found what you see here represented in the header picture:


Over 900 pages of data collected from one smartphone. 900!


This included their children’s social media posts; their Snapchats, sexts, texts, phone calls, contact list, drug dealer information, and deleted photos. Everything.


If your teens have rolled their eyes when you’ve talked to them about thinking before they post, text, or share tell them about the 900 pages of data from one phone. It might just make an impact.



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