Digital Device Security & Forensics ...

Cell Phone Investigative Tools For the Counter Terrorism Professional

By Eamon P. Doherty Ph.D.

Susteen is the name of a company that produces a digital forensics toolkit that allows counter terrorism professionals a method of seizing a variety of data from a large selection of commonly available cell phones. Modern cell phones often contain email, SMS text messages, Internet URLs, and a list of contacts and their phone numbers. Some cell phones with built in fish eye cameras may also contain pictures of places that terrorists may have surveilled before an operation.

Susteen's Secure View version 2.0 (see figure 1.0) is a digital forensic tool that law enforcement and intelligence professionals may use to quickly extract and examine a variety of the previously discussed data from a cell phone that they are lawfully in possession of. Secure View's main menu allows investigators a convenient means of selecting the internal memory, the SIM card, or the external memory card for seizure and examination. The phone book and the call log are two items that when linked together can help the investigator produce a picture of the suspect's network of associates. The call log can show how often the suspect spoke to various people and for what duration. The frequency of a contact as well as the duration of the call can suggest who the major players are in a terrorist plot. Law enforcement personnel may not have the time to manually produce a map of contacts from the suspect's cell phone if they are to act quickly and prevent the potential loss of life and property. That is why cell phone investigators need a tool such as Susteen's new Secure View version 2.0 with the svProbe automated graphing feature.
Since I am both a computer scientist and a certified computer examiner (CCE), I decided to test the data collection feature of Secure View as well as the new automated graphing feature called svProbe. I selected what I considered to be an exemplar of a typical modern American cell phone. The data collection process took about five minutes. I was able to seize the pictures, call logs, phone book, and messages. Within another five minutes I was able to use a new feature of the software called svProbe which allowed me to create a graph with each phone contact in the book and display the frequency of contact for each person (see figure 2 above).

I also found it easy to create a bar graph that visually displayed a timeline of activity between any range of dates and times. Many law enforcement professionals and academics said that they felt that this forensic toolkit and technical support plan were within their budget and competitively priced as compared to other cell phone forensic tools.

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