Govt to buy software from US, Israel to fight smartphone crime

In an attempt to tackle sophisticated and technologically advanced crime hitting smartphones, the government is working towards arming investigators with forensic tools. Such tools, the government opines, will be the force on the side of the investigators to nab criminals who get away, without leaving substantial traces, using secure mobile phones or password-protected computers. The Times of India now reports that the government is close to purchasing over 30 licensed software from firms located in the US, Canada, and Israel to help unearth data within seized mobile phones and computers. The report reveals that the government's decision is a result of cyber forensic investigators failing to decrypt data inside password-protected devices or retrieve deleted data from seized ones. 


New software to help investigators extract crucial data (Image credit: Getty Images)



On the condition of anonymity, an official shared with the Economic Times that the criminal use of gadgets that hinder access to data locked down under password-protection has been on the rise. The official added that the software on such gadgets removed all traces of deleted email content and Internet history. 


The software will be used by the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) in Delhi, and the five regional CFSLs in Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Guwahati and Jammu, as per this official. The software will help investigators access and recover data from 4,000 types of mobile phones, including those running on the Apple, BlackBerry and Windows platforms. In addition to retrieving email and Internet history, the software will also prepare a 'built-in smartphone report'. This report will help in gaining the necessary evidence that can be presented before the courts, and even offer crucial leads to the intelligence agencies. 


A forensic analysis and imaging software of Guidance Software, called Encase 7, is on top of the ministry's shopping list. Encase 7 can acquire data from devices running on operating systems such as Apple's iOS, Google's Android, RIM's BlackBerry, HP's Palm, Nokia's Symbian and Microsoft's Windows Mobile. The software can retrieve emails and Internet history on the device, and provide crucial data going a long way in nabbing the accused. 


The ministry will soon be laying its hands on a portable version of Encase 7, complete with a pocket-sized kit, which can be sent to any location. This way, investigators can stealthily spy on any device, search it for data, and collect all the data on it. 


Oxygen Forensic Suite is another software on the government's shopping list. It allows forensic investigations on 2,500 different brands of mobile phones by extracting multimedia messages, emails, information on caller groups and GPS maps, in addition to analysing web browser caches of the seized phones.


Special password recovery software being purchased from the US will aid investigators in getting back password-protected BlackBerry and Apple backups. As for data on Android and Windows phones, the government has Universal Forensic Extraction Device, a product of Israel's Cellebrite. 


Device Seizure, developed by the US-based Paraben Corporation, can get data from as many as 4,000 types of mobile phones. 


"The government has for long been negotiating to get real-time access to data exchanged on BlackBerry, Google Chat and Skype platforms by people who are under the scanner of the intelligence agencies," adds the report further. 

Published Date: Oct 04, 2012 05:24 pm | Updated Date: Oct 04, 2012 05:24 pm