Platinum sponsor MSAB: A full spectrum of mobile forensics labs

To provide a fully rounded spectrum of information about mobile device forensics, Platinum sponsor Micro Systemation AB, makers of XRY and XACT, is offering a variety of labs built to be valuable to investigators, not just the company.

Branded content will be presented, of course, from MSAB product specialists Jansen Cohoon and James Eichbaum, along with technical trainer Shaun Sutcliffe. Python scripting labs will support XRY functionality, while Sutcliffe will present a “Mobile Forensics Fundamentals” course designed to teach core process irrespective of tools used.

There will also be an XRY-specific lab. “We’re focusing on providing quality training without making infomercials,” says Cohoon. “Of course we’re going to talk about XRY, but our primary interest is to teach methods that will be useful with any tool.”

But Cohoon adds that his experience as a reserve deputy with the Oktibbeha County (Mississippi) Sheriff’s Office led him to want to offer more depth. As a result, MSAB will be offering labs on iOS forensics and Apple’s new iCloud service, as well as labs on Android and GPS forensics. Two other labs will go in-depth with cell site analysis and mapping.

Hands-on Python scripting

Cohoon will be teaching about Python scripting for forensic examiners. Python has been part of XRY since 2009 and is starting to catch on within the investigative community.

“A lot of law enforcement agencies are finding value in having someone on staff who can do scripting, whether writing EnScripts or working with Python, dd and other languages,” Cohoon explains. “Programming isn’t something everyone can do, but Python is popular in university computer science departments because it’s easy and is built in a way that forces good code writing.”

These qualities make it a good tool for forensics. “Scripting brings the investigator to the vendor level,” says Cohoon, “giving more insight into how their tools work and what they do.” And that can only strengthen courtroom testimony as investigators detail the processes they use to obtain evidence. “You’re not changing the data — you’re finding more of it,” Cohoon says.

His beginner-level lab will focus on the Python application, including some existing scripts, what they do and what investigators will see after running them. He’ll also discuss how the scripts and their results relate to XRY, MSAB’s flagship tool.

For example, he says, “You might have a phone that you know a lot of SMS are on, but you’re not getting them even though XRY supports the phone and got the file system. So, you can write an SMS script and program it to add its output to the .xry file, and you get the messages that way.” His advanced scripting lab, meanwhile, will cover writing new scripts as well as modifying existing ones.

iOS, iCloud, Android and GPS

Cohoon will be teaching iOS device and iCloud forensics in another lab. “The OS is constantly evolving, so we’re going to try to make the lab as up-to-date as possible,” he says — possibly even including iOS 5, if it becomes available in enough time to engineer for it.

Meanwhile, iCloud, the service that is slated to replace Apple’s MobileMe remote phone access feature, will carry its own forensic implications. “We’ll be talking about the artifacts, and what is available and important to investigators from the iCloud service,” says Cohoon.

Another lab will focus on Android. “Vendors are just starting to incorporate Android physical acquisitions into their tools, so we want investigators to understand the platform,” says Cohoon. Instructor Eichbaum, formerly a detective with the Stanislaus County (Calif.) Sheriff’s Office, will cover — among other things — rooting and “shell rooting,” which Cohoon explains is like live RAM acquisition. Eichbaum will also be teaching a lab on introductory GPS forensics.

App Overtime

Neither iOS nor Android experiences would be complete without third party “apps” — applications, which lend additional functionality to the core product. In another lab, Cohoon will discuss the “investigative wealth” within these apps, together with a variety of tools both free and commercial that can be used to examine their data.

“Investigators may dump the phone, but they don’t always see what’s in the dump, and they miss evidence,” Cohoon says. “For instance, Apple now strips much of the geolocation data, but many apps still contain it.”

He’ll cover eight or nine popular apps, such that they’ll be able to spot what Cohoon calls “repetitive patterns” they’ll see as they continue to explore apps. “Apps are all built on SQLite, XML and so on,” he explains, “so those languages underlie whatever investigators turn up in their analyses.”

Cell site analysis and mapping

Rounding out the labs will be basic- and advanced-level courses on cell site analysis and mapping. Jim Cook of Premier Customer Connections, a California wireless consulting firm that is unaffiliated with MSAB, will go more in-depth from his “Cell Phones: the New DNA” lecture. His basic lab will show investigators how to map cell sites, azimuths and call detail record correlations, while his advanced lab will get into real world cases — in which participants will be asked to map, as accurately as possible, cell sites, sectors and call detail as well as SMS records.

Dealing with any of these issues in your law enforcement or corporate investigations? Register for the HTCIA conference today —


2 Responses to Platinum sponsor MSAB: A full spectrum of mobile forensics labs

  1. […] and Eichbaum will be bringing their expertise to a lecture and labs they’ll be teaching in Indian Wells. Join us and help support their hard […]

  2. Charles Heller…

    […]Platinum sponsor MSAB: A full spectrum of mobile forensics labs « High Tech Happenings[…]…

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