Advanced Techniques in Forensic Examination of Smartphones

Techniques in
Examination of
(C) Oxygen Software, 2000-2010
Smartphones market growth
Data provided by FutureSource Consulting
Smartphones market is growing even while general mobile phones market falling
(C) Oxygen Software, 2000-2010
Smartphone is a small PC
Cell phone
Address book
Planner & Organizer
Photo & Video camera
GPS navigator
Web client
Platform for 3rd party apps
(C) Oxygen Software, 2000-2010
Smartphone as: Cell phone
Basic Information
• Hardware & Software revision
• Network information
Event log
• Incoming, outgoing, missed calls history
• Sent & received messages history
• GPRS & Wi-Fi sessions log
SIM card
• Phone numbers*
• SMS messages*
* - Usually these features are not utilized by smartphones
(C) Oxygen Software, 2000-2010
Smartphone as: Address book
Caller groups
Speed dials
• Name fields: first, middle, last, nickname,
prefix, suffix, joint name
• Photo and personal ringing tone
• Phone numbers: general, mobile, fax, video,
pager, VoIP, push-to-talk
• Postal addresses
• Web pages and e-mail addresses
• Company, department, job title
• Text notes
• Private info: birthday, spouse, children
• Custom field labels
• Multiple fields of the same type
• Last modification date & time
• List of caller groups & belonging contacts
• List of assigned speed dials
(C) Oxygen Software, 2000-2010
Smartphone as: Planner
Calendar events
• Meetings, reminders and anniversaries
• Start date & time
• Finish date & time
• Alarm date & time
• Recurrence
• Last modification date & time
• Task description
• Deadline
• Priority
• Alarm date & time
• Completion date & time
• Note text & date
(C) Oxygen Software, 2000-2010
Smartphone as: Messenger
• Text messages (SMS)
• Multimedia messages (MMS)
• E-mail messages with attached files
• BIO messages: vCard, vCal,
configuration and others
• Beamed messages: files sent via
Bluetooth, IR or USB
• Standard message folders
• Custom message folders
• Date & time
• Service center timestamp
• Information about deleted SMS
(C) Oxygen Software, 2000-2010
Smartphone as: GPS navigator
GPS Navigator
Location tagger
• Last fixed GPS coordinates
• Search history
• Routes history
• Last displayed map
• Saved maps
• List of favorite places
• GPS coordinates in camera snapshots*
• Cell coordinates in camera snapshots*
• Cell coordinates for camera snapshots**
• Cell coordinates for video records**
• Cell coordinates for SMS messages**
* - Available in EXIF header for many new models
** - Available in smartphones with Nokia LifeBlog application installed
(C) Oxygen Software, 2000-2010
Smartphone as: Web client
• Web cache files
• Bookmarks
• Pages view history
• Last opened URLs
• Search history
• Cookies
Web browser
• IP, Login (UID, e-mail) and password*
• Contacts list
• Chat history
• Calls history
IM client
* - Available for some IM clients
(C) Oxygen Software, 2000-2010
Smartphone as: PC
System apps
• Camera snapshots
• Video clips
• Voice records
• Sounds and Podcasts
• Wi-Fi networks list
• Paired Bluetooth devices list
• Activated SIM cards list
• VPN profiles
3rd party apps
• List of installed applications
• Office documents
• Application logs & data files
(C) Oxygen Software, 2000-2010
Standard extraction methods
There are 2 standard ways to get forensic information from smartphones: logical and
physical analysis
Logical analysis
• Data extracted using common PC-to-mobile
communication protocols: AT, OBEX, SyncML
• Smartphone connected to PC with a standard
cable (or Bluetooth/IR adapter)
Physical analysis
• Data extracted using direct memory reading
(hex dump)
• Smartphone (or its memory chip only)
connected to special hardware
(C) Oxygen Software, 2000-2010
Logical analysis for smartphones
Caller groups
Nokia FBUS
• General phone information
• Contacts (simple), calls*, SMS, settings*
• General phone information
Custom field labels
General phone
Speed dials
Messages from
Event log
Calls history
• General phone information
• Files*
Service center
GPS information
• General phone information
• Contacts, calendar, notes, settings*, bookmarks,
* - Available data set is restricted and depends highly on manufacturer implementation
Location tagged data
Web browser data
client data
3rd party apps
1) The information extracted by all logical protocols is only the top of the iceberg
2) All logical protocols were developed for data synchronization
(C) Oxygen Software, 2000-2010
Physical analysis for smartphones
How to deal with
gigabytes of
(C) Oxygen Software, 2000-2010
Standard extraction methods: Summary
Logical analysis
Physical analysis
Few information can be
All information can be
Easy to perform
Hard to perform
Easy to analyze
Very hard to analyze
Affordable software, no
special hardware needed
Expensive software,
special hardware needed
(C) Oxygen Software, 2000-2010
How to extract data without a headache?
In 2002 Oxygen Software invented the 3rd way - analysis using a special agent
application working inside smartphone OS
Logical analysis
Physical analysis
Analysis using Agent
Few information can
be extracted
All information can
be extracted
Most of the
information can be
Easy to perform
Hard to perform
Easy to perform
Easy to analyze
Very hard to analyze
Easy to analyze
Affordable software,
no special hardware
Expensive software,
special hardware
Affordable software,
no special hardware
* - Agent can extract all the information available for native OS applications
(C) Oxygen Software, 2000-2010
Agent application usage
General phone information & SIM card data
Contacts with all fields and custom field labels
Caller groups & Speed dials
Event Log
Calendar events
Tasks & Notes
Messages from standard and custom folders
Deleted messages information
Service center timestamp
Camera snapshots, video clips and voice records
File system
GPS & Location tagged information
Web browser cache & bookmarks
IM clients data
3rd party applications with their information
(C) Oxygen Software, 2000-2010
- Protected operating
system files
- Memory dump
Afraid of writing to device?
Comparison of phone content changes when performing analysis using
different approaches
SyncML protocol usage
Agent application usage
Setting up sync parameters
Loading Agent to device
Installing extra sync add-ons*
Installing Agent
Running SyncML server
Running Agent
SyncML server generates
synchronization log files
Uninstalling Agent**
* - Extra sync add-ons installation may be needed to extract some additional information (e.g. MMS)
** - Agent does not generate any log files
Unlike Agent, SyncML server is not a forensically designed app and is out of full
control from examiner. In addition - it makes more data modifications than Agent.
(C) Oxygen Software, 2000-2010
Smartphones is a considerable part of mobile device market
FutureSource Consulting forecasts that, between 2008 and 2013, annual sales of
smartphones will rise by 95% to over 300 million. It will be around 37% of all new mobile
phones, up from 13% in 2008.
Smartphones store much more important forensic information than plain cell
Being a multiple-in-one device and having OS with open API smartphones are turning into
small PCs with big memory sizes, wide set of preinstalled applications and huge number of
available 3rd party applications.
Standard extraction methods are less effective for smartphones
All logical protocols were developed for sync purposes, thus they can only extract a top of
the iceberg. Physical analysis of gigabyte hex dumps takes a lot of time.
Agent application usage is the golden mean
The Agent application approach, introduced by Oxygen Software in 2002, almost achieves
the completeness of data extracted by physical methods. At the same time it works via
standard cables and adaptors and allows to present the extracted data in readable and
user-friendly format that is more peculiar to logical analysis.
(C) Oxygen Software, 2000-2010
Interested in more details?
Oxygen Forensic Suite 2010
Oxygen Forensics for iPhone
+44 (0) 20 8133 8450 (UK)
+1 877 9-OXYGEN (USA)
Oxygen Forensic Suite and Oxygen Forensic Suite 2010 a the trademarks of
Oxygen Software.
Oxygen Software LLC was founded in year 2000 and since that time our
business is a PC-to-mobile communication.
(C) Oxygen Software, 2000-2010
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