Q&A: Mobile Forensics

Aviad Ofrat is the CEO of Cellebrite and in this interview discusses mobile forensics as well as the Universal Forensic Extraction Device.

In your opinion, how important is a mobile forensics capability for law enforcement officials?
It’s critical in this day and age. Everyone today carries a mobile device, sometimes even before a wallet or ID. A cellphone carries all types of records and even evidence, in the case of pictures and videos. We empower today’s military, law enforcement, and anti-terror organizations with the most comprehensive, portable, mobile forensic tools available today to leverage the ubiquitous nature of cellphones and the evidence they may carry.

Let’s imagine a crime scene where the technical crew has been sent to retrieve digital information. What are they looking for and what do they do?
Today’s forensic examiners look at mobile devices and digital information just like any other piece of evidence- examining every possible detail, in a forensically sound process. Just like physical evidence at a crime scene can be contaminated if carelessly observed or manipulated, it is a digital forensic examiners duty to analyze a device without causing any changes, to the original evidence- a cell phone in this case, in a ‘read only’ fashion.

Your Universal Forensic Extraction Device (UFED) can extract a variety of data and requires no PC for field use. What are the most prominent features of this devices?
You’re right, other than our phone support, the main difference between the UFED and other forensics products is that our device not require any PC for use. Not only does this make the UFED much more portable, but it also circumvents many inherent issues with a PC based product. PCs are susceptible to driver conflict issues, viruses, and general usability issues in the field by the end user. The UFED has a simple, easy user interface that requires minimal training and anyone can use in the lab or in the field.

What features do you see your clients most interested in having in the future?
Mostly to able to keep up with the latest and greatest phones as they are released (no small feat). Having a comprehensive library of supported phones is crucial – you never know what device a suspect may be carrying.

What challenges do you face in the marketplace? What do you see as your advantages?
Superior phone support. We deal direct with every wireless cellphone carrier and OEM (cellphone maker) in the United States today. We are receiving prototype handsets 2-3 months before they are offered to the public. This gives us a significant lead in development time and direct support by the OEMs. Other companies have no choice but to reverse engineer the phones after released, which can take months longer.

Where do you see your products 5 years from now? What kind of evolution of mobile devices do you expect?
Mobile device forensics is the future. With the wealth of data even a casual user has stored in his or her cellphone, smartphone, or PDA, it is quickly becoming THE one piece of evidence that is interrogated immediately. There is no doubt in my mind this trend will continue and mobile devices will grow in terms of capabilities, and usage applications. We will continue to keep ahead of the curve to provide our clients with the solutions to support all new functionality of tomorrow’s devices.

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