How private social data makes a better crime story

Open source intelligence is an undeniably important source of information in a great many investigations, both civil and criminal. Public-facing posts to Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Pinterest, and other services can provide key evidence in cases involving insurance fraud, child exploitation, organized criminal activity, and harassment in or out of the workplace, among others.

However, open source intelligence is limited. People who act one way on public networks may behave very differently in private posts or messages, and may conceal key details in private messages. That means that without the data, investigators lack important context. In a recent survey of Cellebrite customers, nearly two-thirds reflected that data stored off the device and on the cloud was of critical concern to them.

Perhaps the most well-known example of the gap between public and private social data is the wave of street violence that occurred in north London, England in August 2011. As The Guardian reported, Facebook and Twitter only accounted for a small amount of communications around the unrest. Actively monitoring those services, police managed to deter violence in publicly named locations.

“However,” the news article went on to note, “the most powerful and up-to-the-minute rallying appears to have taken place on a more covert social network: BlackBerry Messenger (BBM)…. unlike Twitter or Facebook, many BBM messages are untraceable by the authorities.”

Social network analysis identifies likely sources of private contact

When an investigator considers the likelihood that s/he will need to obtain private social data, interviews with victims, witnesses and suspects are often a good place to start. Interviews can reflect communication patterns—apps and platforms used, modes of contact, etc.—among people involved in a case, and help narrow down the range of content to look for.

Also consider who is important enough for the victim or suspect to share information with. You can get a sense for this network from analyzing activity by the people they most frequently communicate with: those who like or comment on their posts, how frequently, in what context. Unusual communications from a loose acquaintance, depending on timing, can be as important as regular contact with a typical circle of people.

Social network analysis can also reveal relationship conflicts of interest, which can be important in fraud or insider threat cases. People who are not outwardly connected on social media may be communicating via email or private message, in accounts they don’t use to communicate with anyone else.

Public data can provide private leads

Consider, in addition, what is important enough for a victim or suspect to share information about. Images of material goods can indicate money spending habits or even outright crime. Their page likes and follows—the Guardian reported that initial activity related to the riots began on a public Facebook page—can provide clues about interests and activities which they may discuss privately.

Meanwhile, private content that is opposite to public postings, or to what the victim or witness has told you during interviews, can be used as leverage to find out what really happened. These contradictions can exonerate as well as implicate a suspect. And, if the case goes to trial, the contradicting content can impeach a witness’ credibility.

Understand cloud usage trends in your community

It’s important to maintain a strong sense of technological trends ongoing not just in the nation or the world, but in specific regions as well. The Guardian described in a later article how, in London, BlackBerry’s prepaid model allowed teens and lower-income people to afford the devices they used to coordinate their activities, without using cloud services.

Further, while BlackBerry Messenger communications are encrypted, and iOS and Android devices are heading that way as well, most social media services are not. That means that data unrecoverable from apps on the device, may still be available from cloud services themselves.

Even so, with mobile device manufacturers, third-party app developers, and online service providers taking more drastic measures toward improving their customers’ data security, government agents should take the steps they need to secure proper legal authority before accessing subjects’ private data. That could take the form of a search warrant, consent, or other documentation. It also means understanding the difference between true exigency, and the perception of exigency in a high-pressure situation such as a riot.

Don’t miss out on the critical evidence or intelligence that could help make a case. Download our solution brief to learn more about how the UFED PRO Series improves the context of an investigation.

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UFED Physical/Logical Analyzer 4.2 offers efficiency improvements, decryption and enhanced decoding

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The new Physical/Logical Analyzer release, version 4.2, is chock full of features and device support. From more efficient location mapping processes to improved decoding, this latest release is designed to accelerate your investigations and enable you to drill more deeply and intuitively into data from more than 15,000 devices.

Deeper location data analysis, more efficient workflows

UFED Physical/Logical Analyzer 4.2 offers a number of new enhancements with regard to location data. These enhancements offer more flexibility and efficiency by allowing you to access highly visual information more easily.

First, new offline map support offers maps view even when an Internet connection is not available or you are analyzing data at a workstation that is required to remain offline. Second, you can also now zoom in to locations in map view and see related event details. When you want to explore deeper relationships between locations, timelines, and analyzed data, you can jump from location information to its source event or timeline and vice versa.

Location information also allows you the ability to examine attached images, videos, audio, text, and other files identified during the data analysis process. The Data Files category in the project tree enables you to view and filter attachments within data files, locate the associated attachment event, and view its metadata and location information.

Do you frequently share your extracted UFDR reports with others using UFED Reader? Now, include the UFED Reader executable within the report output folder. This saves time for report recipients in locating, downloading, and using the UFED Reader application.

New app decoding and analysis functionality

UFED Physical/Logical Analyzer 4.2 also keeps pace with investigator demand for greater visibility into app data. Besides newly added support for apps installed on Android, iOS, and Windows Phone® devices, as well as updated support for 40 Android and 63 iOS app versions, the new release offers additional decoding and some decryption support, as well as improvements in the way app data—particularly chat app data—is displayed.

Added to analytics that show the most frequently used apps, app usage data now includes information about the last time a user launched a particular app, as well as for how long they used it. Also for the first time, view the number of messages per chat, which can help validate chats extracted using other tools that do not thread messages. Additionally, location data for chat messages is now available for export into all report formats.

Other apps-related support includes decryption of KeepSafe and WeChat apps, together with decoding support for WhatsApp VoIP call logs on Android devices. New WhatsApp support also includes the Read, Delivered and Played timestamps of outgoing WhatsApp messages for iOS, Android and BlackBerry® 10 devices. In addition, Twitter group chat messages are now displayed in Chats.

New device support includes physical extractions, decryption, and decoding

Disable the user lock for 159 Samsung Android models using SPR and SPM methods, depending on the device’s firmware version. In addition, Physical extraction with lock bypass and decoding is now supported for 58 LG Android devices released with Android version 4.2.x and above.

Decryption is now possible for physical extractions from generic Android and Samsung devices running Android 4.2 and below using a known password. Similarly, extract BlackBerry device backup data as part of file system extraction, and then decrypt the backup data with known BlackBerry ID credentials you retrieve via UFED Physical Analyzer.

Device information decoding is newly enhanced for all device types. For BlackBerry 10 this includes username, device model, PIN, IMEI, and device name; for Windows Phone devices, the information includes IMEI, IMSI, MEID, mobile operator ID, country, MAC address, and OS version. Device information for Android devices now includes the decoded Tethering ID and password, while iOS device product name and product type information are now included under device information.

Saving time in a death investigation

One Minnesota (US)-based detective working a death investigation used Physical Analyzer 4.2 to unlock a pattern locked Samsung Galaxy S5 (SM-G900V). Facing a lengthy and destructive chip-off extraction because the device did not appear to be supported for JTAG extraction, the investigator was able to run the device against a pre-release copy of Physical Analyzer 4.2. The extraction worked, and the investigator was able to use that evidence to continue building his case.

To learn more about how the new UFED Physical/Logical Analyzer 4.2 can help accelerate your investigations, download our release notes today!

Keep your investigations moving forward with cloud-based data

How many of these scenarios have you encountered as an investigator?

  • The suspect used an app for which there is no mobile forensic support. You could manually carve and decode the data from a physical extraction—assuming it is supported by the mobile forensics tools you use—but you lack time, and/or the forensic lab tells you it will be weeks before they can get the data back to you.
  • You serve a search warrant on a cloud data provider, but they ignore your request, and/or they inform the suspect that you’re investigating.
  • The cloud provider is willing to work with you, but they tell you they can’t comply with your search warrant or court order unless it is submitted a certain way. During the weeks it takes you to negotiate and get new paper signed, your victims recant their statement, and your witnesses are much less forthcoming in follow-up interviews.

A case that stalls or halts altogether, while you wait for time-sensitive webmail and/or social media data, means it’s a lot less likely that you’ll be able to find and apprehend a criminal. You need a way to obtain cloud-based evidence much more quickly, and preferably within the first few hours or days of a victim’s initial statement.

Obtaining private cloud data offers additional context for what was going on in a victim’s or suspect’s life during specific timelines. Having this context enables investigators to make informed decisions about how to proceed with a case, how to plan an interview strategy, and which individuals to focus on.

Restricting a search to these timelines, and to certain content types, not only reduces the amount of data you have to go through; it also protects individual privacy by eliminating the content that has nothing to do with the investigation.

Private cloud data access can also help to reduce the risk that you’ll have missed important artifacts from mobile devices and hard drives, especially when devices or apps are partially supported or unsupported for extraction.

Finally, faster access to important evidence reduces the risk of losing witnesses who lose interest before a provider returns data, or because a provider was resistant to being served or tried to inform the suspect. It can also help to identify victims who might not have come forward on their own.

With the proper legal authority, private cloud data can give you the data you need to make a case without adding too much irrelevant data to have to sift through. Download our solution brief now to learn more about how to leverage this capability within the UFED PRO Series as part of your investigations.

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Introducing Cellebrite’s new mobile forensics solutions for lab and field

Today we’re excited to launch two new ways for law enforcement, military, and private-sector investigators to approach investigations. Our suite of mobile forensic solutions relies upon tried-and-true, flagship UFED technology together with a couple of newcomers designed to unlock the intelligence of new and disparate mobile data sources and extend investigative capabilities to the field so that actionable information can be qualified and shared quickly.

The new offerings are founded upon insights gleaned in our recent mobile forensics trends and predictions survey. Among them, 60% of respondents indicated that more data stored off the device and on the cloud was of major concern to them, while 80% of respondents reported experiencing some level of device backlog in the last year.

The UFED Pro Series, designed for forensic lab practitioners, and the UFED Field Series, designed for field personnel, each respond to those and other concerns by optimizing data extraction and analysis capabilities by role—and unifying investigative workflows between lab and field.

In other words, field-level investigators now have a way to obtain a simple data preview capability, enabling them to access actionable data without having to wait for a lab, while lab-level investigators can use specialized tools to tackle a larger swath of visible, hidden, deleted, and cloud-based private data, when a situation demands.

The UFED Pro Series comprises Cellebrite’s flagship UFED Ultimate together with UFED Link Analysis and, when appropriate, the all-new UFED Cloud Analyzer in two solution sets: UFED Pro CLX and UFED Pro LX. The integration allows examiners to unify disparate data for easier analysis, helping to bring key insights to the surface quickly.

The UFED Field Series – an integrated software and hardware solution comprised of UFED Field IX and UFED Field ILX — allows field-level personnel to perform simple, efficient, data extractions onsite via in-car workstations, laptops, tablets, or our new secure, self-service UFED InField Kiosks at stations or other locations. This frees forensic specialists to move beyond basic evidence collection and focus on more complex analytical work.

Both solution sets include user and data management controls that forensically preserve evidence, maintain chain of custody through the unified workflow, and promote device owner privacy by filtering data by date, time, and/or content types to focus only on what’s most relevant to an investigation.

Learn more in our press releases about the new UFED Series solutions, including the UFED Pro Series and the UFED Field Series, and be sure to leave us a comment should you have any questions!

Get hands-on with Cellebrite’s new JTAG Extraction and Decoding (CJED) course

The growing popularity of JTAG forensics is an indicator of its undeniable advantages. These include the ability to access physical memory even when a device is damaged, or when commercial tools don’t support user lock bypass, such as with prepaid devices. Furthermore, the method is non-destructive compared to the chip-off method.

Still, the JTAG process requires significant resources. It can take many hours for an examiner to transform the raw data into human interpretable evidence, and without training, making the wrong connections or pressing the wrong buttons can cause the destruction of evidence. Getting trained, therefore, is one of the top priorities any organization should have for a full investment in JTAG capabilities.

Part of the Advanced Training Pathway courses we announced two weeks ago, the new three-day instructor-led JTAG Extraction and Decoding (CJED) course introduces the techniques and best practices required to perform JTAG extractions and decoding, as well as addressing common challenges in these methods and offering hands-on practice.

Take 30 minutes to watch the video below to learn how to easily integrate and decode JTAG extractions using UFED Physical Analyzer, which newly supports JTAG chains both generic and brand-specific for automated decoding. Get a brief overview of the hardware you will receive in our CJED course, including a Molex adapter kit and a RIFF brand JTAG box, with which you’ll be able to practice fundamental soldering skills.

JTAG skills can help you expedite your investigation and maximize the evidence you can retrieve from damaged, prepaid, and unsupported devices. Once you’ve viewed the webinar, be sure to register at a location near you for the CJED class!

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Advance your forensic expertise with Cellebrite’s new smartphone analysis course

Last week we announced the introduction of a new Advanced Training Pathway designed to enhance professional forensic expertise. The first in this series, the hands-on Cellebrite Advanced Smartphone Analysis (CASA) course, addresses the sometimes complex challenges that come with forensic examination of iOS, Android and Windows Mobile devices.

Those challenges include where and how SQLite databases—whose schemas can vary from device to device—store Android and iOS mobile app data via structures, files and functions; how to defeat passcodes and unlock iOS devices; and how to recover system and user artifacts.

Within the context of smartphones, strategies to obtain the data can include physical or file system extraction with user lock bypass, extracting and decoding device backup files from a synchronized computer, or extraction using JTAG or chip-off methodologies. Over the course of three days (a total of 21 hours), CASA students can expect to learn which of those and other methods work for various device types and families.

The first step in advanced analysis is to get past a device’s user lock. Watch the video below for information on how to do this using UFED solutions—and then be sure to register for the Cellebrite Advanced Smartphone Analysis class at the Cellebrite Learning Center!

Download training white paper

Prepare to tackle smartphones & JTAG with Cellebrite’s new Advanced Training Pathway courses

Smartphone operating and file systems, damaged and prepaid devices, and increasing amounts of data all present conundrums to mobile forensics examiners. It takes time to learn the intricacies of various device and OS versions, and time to sift through the gigabytes of data that each device can contain. These problems are compounded when a device is severely damaged and you have to send it out to a specialist lab to recover the evidence.

To help you build professional expertise to meet those challenges, Cellebrite is pleased to announce the addition of an all-new Advanced Training Pathway. Designed to enhance the forensic expertise you received from the CCPA Core Certification, the courses included in this pathway provide you with the specialized extraction and analysis skills you need to maximize the amount of evidence you can retrieve from smartphones and damaged devices:

  • The 3-day instructor-led Cellebrite Advanced Smartphone Analysis (CASA) course allows students to take an in-depth look at the challenges posed by iOS, Android, and Windows Phone® devices. The course covers the analysis of SQLite databases, issues related to iOS passcodes, and artifacts from the three major smartphone platforms.
  • The 3-day instructor-led Cellebrite JTAG Extraction and Decoding (CJED) class teaches participants about the methodologies, purpose, and origins of the JTAG process. Participants can expect hands-on practice with fundamental soldering skills, as well as with using UFED Physical Analyzer to decode JTAG extraction. A RIFF brand JTAG box, a Molex adapter kit, a class specific tool kit, and a Cellebrite soldering practice board will all be available for participants to take back with them.

Get the skills you need to maximize your mobile device evidence collection and analysis efforts. Register at the Cellebrite Learning Center today to advance your professional expertise!

Physical extraction & decoding, decryption breakthroughs headline UFED 4.1 release

With the release of UFED 4.1 and UFED Physical Analyzer 4.1.1, Cellebrite kicks off 2015 with breakthrough capabilities designed to solve some of investigators’ most challenging problems: Windows Phone 8, Jelly Bean/KitKat, and prepaid device extractions, as well as WhatsApp database encryption.

Physical extraction & decoding for Nokia Lumia, Android 4.2-4.4.3

Investigators who encounter Nokia Lumia devices can now circumvent the need for JTAG processes to bypass user locks and retrieve deleted data. Although Microsoft announced late last year that it will produce all Lumia models going forward, Nokia sold 17 million Lumia devices in 2013, and 90% of Windows Phone users own Lumia devices. With that in mind, UFED now supports user lock bypass, physical extraction and decoding of many of the most popular Lumia models, including 810, 820, 920, and others based on Windows Phone 8.0 and 8.1 operating systems.

New physical and file system extraction and decoding, along with improved password unlocking and extraction, is also available for Android devices running OS 4.2 (Jelly Bean) through 4.4.3 (KitKat). Devices such as the Samsung Galaxy series (S5, Nexus, Note 3, S3 Mini etc.) along with other leading vendors and models including LG, Motorola, and Sony are included in this release.

Prepaid device support for Tracfone, Samsung E1200R

Also solved: prepaid Android devices with locked or damaged ports, in particular Tracfone models popular in North America. Unlike other prepaid models that can be extracted using “paid” profile equivalents, Tracfone models do not have USB ports, and investigators could not get critical evidence. Cellebrite now offers an option to load a client over these devices’ Bluetooth connection, so that investigators can perform logical extractions.

New physical extraction and decoding support is now available for the internationally popular “burner” Samsung E1200R feature phone.

WhatsApp database decryption

Cellebrite’s first-of-the-year breakthroughs aren’t limited to extraction and decoding. We’re also introducing decryption for WhatsApp’s newly encrypted chat history database. For databases using the .crypt8 file extension, UFED Physical Analyzer 4.1.1 decrypts full content from WhatsApp, one of the world’s most popular messaging apps with 700 million monthly active users as of January 2015.

An easier-to-use interface

Rounding out Cellebrite’s update this month is a new, better organized home screen, which now groups extraction tools and other utilities into distinct areas. Users can now opt to extract a mobile device, SIM card, or USB device; operate UFED Camera; or access UFED device tools, rather than have to search for these capabilities within the pool of vendor icons.

Additionally, a new search screen supports three device identification methods: a simpler auto detect, a free text global device search, and a manual device search similar to the previous home screen (selecting vendor followed by model). The new interface offers better accuracy for investigators who need to search on an exact model number rather than, say, “iPhone 5.”

Learn more about UFED 4.1 and UFED Physical Analyzer 4.1.1 – download the release notes here!

New time-saving features arrive in UFED Physical Analyzer 4.1

With the release of UFED Physical/Logical Analyzer 4.1, Cellebrite offers new decoding and reporting features designed to improve investigative efficiency and enrich the degree of decoded data.

New, faster, and enhanced decoding

To start with, decoding extractions that are saved to a network drive is now up to 25% faster. New decoding support is available for a number of device models and data. These include JTAG extractions from seven new devices, as well as chip-off extractions from BlackBerry® devices running OS 10. Decoded BlackBerry 10 data includes several apps in addition to device data.

UFED Physical/Logical Analyzer 4.1 also improves on decoded location data from iOS devices. The device information now includes whether the device location service status is turned on or off, as well as whether location services were enabled for each app (and, if enabled, when it was last used). Additionally, UFED Physical Analyzer now displays recent and frequently visited locations tracked by iOS devices and maintained solely on the device.

New and updated app decoding is also available in UFED Physical/Logical Analyzer 4.1. This includes enhanced data carving from unallocated space for the ooVoo, Skype, VKontakte, and Odnoklassniki apps, and decrypted SnapChat pictures.

Also included is decoding for contacts and chats from the HeyTell and Truecaller Android and iOS apps, as well as bookmarks, web history, and emails from the Firefox app for Android. Updated decoding is available for a total of 34 Android apps and 30 iOS apps, including multiple app versions. Download the release notes to see a full list of apps and version numbers.

Efficiencies in reporting

Reporting also sees an improvement in speed, by up to 50% depending on report content for PDF and UFDR report processing. New reporting functionality allows you to export chat messages in conversation format, within PDF reports. As with previous version, select and unselect specific chats to include. Additionally, you can now include image thumbnails in PDF, Word, and HTML reports.

Another new feature stands to reduce confusion around daylight saving date and time stamps vs. UTC or standard times. UFED Physical/Logical Analyzer 4.1 includes a database containing start/end dates and times for countries that use daylight saving (DST). This data is available through 2018 and takes into account locations that do not adhere to DST. You can set a unified time zone for the project timestamps for the software to automatically adjust for DST.

Remember: End of life announcement for Windows XP

Following the recent announcement that Microsoft has officially ceased support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014, Cellebrite recommends installing UFED Series Software Products on 64-bit versions of Windows 7 and above. By February 28, 2015, the UFED Series will no longer support Windows XP.

IMPORTANT: This does not affect UFED Touch systems running on Windows 2009 Embedded Standard. The Windows Embedded Standard 2009 Operating System End of Life is scheduled for January 8, 2024.

For further information about the Windows XP end of life, please contact support@cellebrite.com.

Download the full release notes for additional details about these decoding and reporting features!

Self-paced training joins instructor-led classes in Cellebrite’s online offerings

The Cellebrite Certified Logical Operator (CCLO) certification course recently joined our Mobile Forensic Fundamentals online class, officially making Cellebrite the first mobile forensics vendor to offer any kind of online certification training.

Online training is valuable when you are unable to travel, can’t take time away from work, or simply prefer online learning. On-demand online training scales for organizations that need to train large teams simultaneously and cost-effectively, because participants can learn without interruption to operations.

Cellebrite’s on-demand, self-paced courses are instructionally equivalent to Cellebrite’s instructor-led training (ILT) courses. In fact, Cellebrite Certified Instructors are integrated “virtually” into the online course. This enables you to receive real-time feedback on your progress through dynamic navigation and regular “learning checks.”

You can also revisit lessons for review and additional practice. This interaction, along with scenario-based conditional logic—which offers different steps for you to follow as part of learning to think critically about mobile forensics—are part of practical exercises that help you to learn forensic techniques and processes hands on.

In other words, this is not a pre-recorded webinar! Complete Cellebrite courses on your own time directly via the Cellebrite Learning Center. Our video describes this in greater detail:

One part of a broader professional training strategy

The new online offering follows the trajectory of Cellebrite’s comprehensive, standardized training curriculum, the first and only to be offered across three different delivery models. The curriculum began last year with classroom-based training and added instructor-led online training, followed by the Cellebrite Certified Mobile Examiner certification test, earlier this year.

The availability of the CCME certification addresses hazards which ProPublica raised in its article “No Forensic Background? No Problem.” Although the article focused on certifications in the physical forensic sciences, it covered very similar issues found in the digital forensics community:

“There are a lot of people practicing, but there’s no assurance that they have the requisite training and board certification to see if they do have the skills to do the practical [work],” said Dr. Marcella Fierro, one of the NAS report’s authors and the former chief medical examiner of Virginia….

“Credentials are often appealing shortcuts,” Michigan circuit court judge Donald Shelton said. Fancy titles can have a disproportionate effect on juries, he added. “Jurors have no way of knowing that this certifying body, whether it’s this one or any other one, exacts scientific standards or is just a diploma mill.”

Cellebrite designed not just the CCLO and CCPA, but the CCME in particular, to address these issues by encouraging full professional proficiency and not just proficiency at using UFED tools.

Enroll now in our online on-demand training as a first step toward certification!

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