Are Smartphones Making You Feel Dumb?

They're everywhere.  People are glued to their tiny screens everywhere you go.  We carry a lot of our data on smartphones today.  It's convenient but it is also a pain in the arse when you have to sort through the data in litigation.  So how can you get the data off of the phone and into something you can use in court?

More than likely, you will need a forensic solution to do this.

One way is through Cellebrite.

I will be honest, I often cringe when I hear someone is providing us Cellebrite data from smartphones.  The good news is that the Cellebrite data is getting better to work with.

So what is Cellebrite?

Cellebrite is a company that provides tools for collection, analysis and management of digital data.  They offer solutions that can help you to extract pertinent data such as text messages, videos, photos, etc. from smartphones.  The information is then compiled into a report which you can use to search the data.  The report hasn't always been user-friendly but it is getting better.  Utilizing the Cellebrite UFED (Universal Forensic Extraction Device) you can review the data through the report tool.  In my experience, it has always been difficult to navigate through a report.  Many times attorneys have said they can't open the report.  Most of the time, it just takes time for the report to load.  We are all expecting something to open immediately.  Some times it has take 2-3 minutes for the report to load.

Cellebrite isn't the only way to extract data from smartphones but it is increasing becoming the most common one.

So what kind of information can you get from a phone?  Here is a list of things that might be of interest in your case:

  • Files
  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Music
  • Books
  • Messages
  • Text Messages
  • Email
  • GPS data
I have seen some attorneys take a phone and attempt to print photos or transfer videos from a phone but that rarely goes smoothly and somethings more involved than a good forensics tool could do as well as preserving the hidden metadata.

Unfortunately there isn't an off-the-shelf tool you can purchase that can be used to convert and process all mobile phone data but there are a number of vendors with proprietary tools which can take the pain out of the work for you.  Although I am more familiar with Cellebrite, there are others out there.  Reach out to an eDiscovery vendor for advice and assistance.

For further reading, Craig Ball offers some good information in his blog:  Mobile to the Mainstream | Ball in your Court (



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