Cell phones have become an important part of everyone’s daily life in America. You can hardly find anyone over the age of 15 and younger than 80 years old these days without one. It is said that cell phones outsell personal computers 3 to 1. With numbers like that, it is important for law enforcement to understand the laws and resources needed to legally and properly conduct cell phone forensics to document, examine, and present for court purposes the evidence needed to substantiate a criminal case.
When most people think of the history of cellular phones, they think back to the 1990’s when cellular phones became popular to the market for personal use. Others will remember the car phones and brick phones in the 1980’s, which were primarily owed by executives and government officials who had a need for this kind of portable technology. In fact Dr. Martin Cooper invented the portable phone known as Motorola Dyna-Tac. He traveled to New York City and on, April 3, 1973 he made the first public cell phone call.
Some of the first mobile phones were used during World War I. In 1917 German soldiers used what was called a field phone were used to coordinate military movements. In 1945, the first mobile radio telephone service was created in St. Louis, Missouri. Although the project was approved by the Federal Trade Commission, the equipment barely worked due to massive interference. In 1947, AT&T introduced the first radio car phone, which could only be used on the highway between New York and Boston. Due to the large amount of interference and the phones not working the way they were intended and AT&T considered this project a failure.
Before smartphones, everyone who purchased a cell phone used technology that was easy to understand. With the old cell phone, you had several parts to include the antenna, display, keyboard, microphone, speaker, battery, and a circuit board which was considered the brains of the phone. Today’s cell phones, called smartphones, are considered portable computers due to the complexity of how they operate and the things people are able to accomplish using them. You can just about do anything you want to do on your computer right on your cell phone these days.
With amount of use cell phones get and the amount of things that people can accomplish on cell phones, it is important that law enforcement be able to correctly collect, extract, and review evidence which may lead to the successful prosecution of a criminal. Due to the fact criminals can easily use their cell phones to commit a crime or communicate about the crime before, during, and after, it is essential to have protocols in place to be able to legally gather the evidence.
Before being able to gather this information, you must first understand the technology behind each cell phone. There are several different operating systems that operate smartphones. The operating software we will discuss will be Android, IOS, BlackBerry OS, and Windows Mobil. Each is unique in the way it operates and the phones they work on. Due to the technology constantly changing with mobile devices, it has become hard to come up with industry standards. Another new obstacle is the way some of these operating systems encrypt the information stored on them if a passcode is not obtained from the user.
The Android operating system was developed by a group called the Open Handset Alliance (OHA). OHA is a coalition of over fifty companies which consisted of companies such as Acer, Google, eBay, HTC, LG, Qualcomm, and many others. The goal of OHA was to accelerate innovation in mobile and offer consumers a less expensive and better mobile experience.
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