FOR585: Advanced Smartphone Forensics
I have been working with phones since 2009, and [instructor] Heather [Mahalik] very casually showed me how much I don't know. Excellent!
Harbin Combee, MPDC
This was an awesome class! Amazing amount of material and the capstone tied it all together.
D. Mayer, Broomsfield Police Department
It is almost impossible today to conduct a digital forensic investigation that does not include a smartphone or mobile device. Smartphones are replacing the need for a personal computer, and almost everyone owns at least one. The smartphone may be the only source of digital evidence tracing an individual's movements and motives, and thus can provide the who, what, when, where, why, and how behind a case. FOR585: Advanced Smartphone Forensics teaches real-life, hands-on skills that help digital forensic examiners, law enforcement officers, and information security professionals handle investigations involving even the most complex smartphones currently available.
The course focuses on smartphones as sources of evidence, providing students with the skills needed to handle mobile devices in a forensically sound manner, manipulate locked devices, understand the different technologies, discover malware, and analyze the results for use in digital investigations by diving deeper into the file systems of each smartphone. Students will be able to obtain actionable intelligence and recover and analyze data that commercial tools often miss for use in internal investigations, criminal and civil litigation, and security breach cases. Students will walk away with knowledge they can immediately put to use on their next smartphone investigation.
FOR585: Advanced Smartphone Forensics you will learn:
- Smartphone Capabilities: Determine the who, what, when, where, why, and how of a case. Who used a smartphone? What did the user do on a smartphone? Where was the smartphone located at key times? What online activities did the user conduct using a smartphone, and when?
- How to Recover Deleted Data: Use manual decoding techniques to recover deleted data stored on smartphones and mobile devices.
- How to Detect Data Stored in Third-Party Applications: Who did the user communicate with using a smartphone and why are these activities sometimes hidden?
- How to Detect Malware: Detect smartphones compromised by malware using forensics methods.
- How to Bypass Locks: Bypass, crack, and/or decode lock codes manually recovered from smartphones, including cracking iOS backup files that were encrypted with iTunes.
The hands-on exercises in this course cover the best commercial and open-source tools available to conduct smartphone and mobile device forensics, and provide detailed instructions on how to manually decode data that tools sometimes overlook. The course will prepare you to recover and reconstruct events relating to illegal or unauthorized activities, determine if a smartphone has been compromised with malware or spyware, and provide your organization with the capability to use evidence from smartphones.
This intensive six-day course will take your mobile device forensics knowledge and abilities to the next level. Smartphone technologies are new and constantly changing, most forensics professionals are unfamiliar with the data formats. It is time for the good guys to get smarter and for the bad guys to know that their texts and apps can and will be used against them!
- Forensic Analysis of Smartphones and Their Components
- Devices and Components:
- Windows phone/Mobile
- Nokia (Symbian)
- Chinese knock-offs
- SIM cards
- SD cards
- Deep-Dive Forensics Examination of Smartphone File Systems and Data Structures
- Recovering deleted information from smartphones
- Examining SQLite databases in-depth
- Finding traces of user activities on smartphones
- Recovering data from third-party applications
- Tracing user online activities on smartphones (e.g., messaging and social networking)
- Examining event logs
- Manual decoding to recover missing data or verify results
- Identification of Malware and Spyware on Smartphones
- Determining if malware or spyware exist
- Handling the isolation of the malware
- Determining what has been compromised
- In-Depth Usage and Capabilities of the Best Smartphone Forensics Tools
- Data carving
- Conducting physical and logical keyword searches
- Conducting timeline generation and link analysis using information from smartphones
- Plotting geolocation information from smartphones and smartphone components
- Handling Locked Devices
- Extracting evidence from locked smartphones
- Decrypting backups of smartphones
- Manually cracking lockdown files for smartphones
- Accessing locked SIM cards
- Incident Response Considerations on Smartphones
- How your actions can alter the device
- Determining whether a memory capture can be conducted on the smartphone
- How to prevent remote access on the device
For multi-course live training events, there will be a set up time from 8:00-9:00am on the first day only to make sure that computers are configured correctly to make the most of class time. All students are strongly encouraged to attend.
|FOR585.1: Smartphone Overview and Malware Forensics|
Focus: Although smartphone forensics concepts are similar to those of digital forensics, smartphone file system structures differ and require specialized decoding skills to correctly interpret the data acquired from the device. On this first course day, students will apply what they know to smartphone forensics handling, device capabilities, acquisition methods, and data encoding concepts of smartphone components. Students will also become familiar with the forensics tools required to complete comprehensive examinations of smartphone data structures. Malware affects a plethora of smartphone devices. This section will examine various types of malware, how it exists on smartphones, and how to identify it. Up to five labs will be conducted on this first day alone!
All examiners today have to address the existence of malware on smartphones. Often the only questions relating to an investigation may be whether a given smartphone was compromised, how, and what can be done to fix it. It is important for examiners to understand malware and how to identify its existence on the smartphone.
Smartphones will be introduced and defined to set our expectations for what we can recover using digital forensics methodologies. We review the properties of Flash memory in mobile devices and demonstrate the pros and cons from a forensics perspective. We provide approaches for dealing with common challenges such as encryption, passwords, and damaged devices. Students will learn how to process and decode data on mobile devices from a forensics perspective, then learn tactics to recover information that even forensics tools may not always be able to retrieve.
The SIFT Workstation has been specifically loaded with a set of smartphone forensics tools that will be your primary toolkit and working environment for the week.
CPE/CMU Credits: 6
The SIFT Workstation
Malware and Spyware Forensics
Introduction to Smartphones
Forensics Acquisition Concepts of Smartphones
Smartphone Forensics Tool Overview
|FOR585.2: Android Forensics|
Focus: Android devices are among the most widely used smartphones in the world, which means they will surely be part of an investigation that will come across your desk. Android devices contain substantial amounts of data that can be decoded and interpreted into useful information. However, without honing the appropriate skills for bypassing locked Androids and correctly interpreting the data stored on them, you will be unprepared for the rapidly evolving world of smartphone forensics.
Digital forensics examiners must understand the file system structures of Android devices and how they store data in order to extract and interpret the information they contain. On this course day we will delve into the file system layout on Android devices and discuss common areas containing files of evidentiary value. Traces of user activities on Android devices are covered, as is recovery of deleted data residing in SQLite records and raw data files.
During hands-on exercises, you will use smartphone forensics tools to extract, decode, and analyze a wide variety of information from Android devices.
CPE/CMU Credits: 6
Android Forensics Overview
Handling Locked Android Devices
Android File System Structures
Android Evidentiary Locations
Traces of User Activity on Android Devices
|FOR585.3: iOS Forensics|
Focus: Apple iOS devices are used worldwide. iOS devices contain substantial amounts of data (including deleted records) that can be decoded and interpreted into useful information. Proper handling and parsing skills are needed for bypassing locked iOS devices and correctly interpreting the data. Without iOS instruction, you will be unprepared to deal with the iOS device that will likely be a major component in a forensics investigation.
Digital forensics examiners must understand the file system structures and data layouts of Apple iOS devices in order to extract and interpret the information they contain. To learn how to do this, we delve into the file system layout on iOS devices and discuss common areas containing files of evidentiary value. Encryption, decryption, file parsing, and traces of user activities are covered in detail.
During hands-on exercises, students will use smartphone forensics tools to extract and analyze a wide variety of information from iOS devices. Students will also be required to manually decode data that were deleted or are unrecoverable using smartphone forensics tools.
CPE/CMU Credits: 6
iOS Forensics Overview and Acquisition
iOS File System Structures
iOS Evidentiary Locations
Handling Locked iOS Devices
Traces of User Activity on iOS Devices
|FOR585.4: Backup File and BlackBerry Forensics|
Focus: We realize that not everyone examines BlackBerry devices. However, this section highlights pieces of evidence that can be found on multiple smartphones. Most importantly, we cover encrypted data on SD cards and how that data needs to be acquired and examined. BlackBerry smartphones are designed to protect user privacy, but techniques taught in this section will enable the investigator to go beyond what the tools decode and manually recover data residing in database files of BlackBerry device file systems. Backup smartphone images are commonly found on external media and the cloud, and may be the only forensics acquisition method for newer iOS devices that are locked. Learning how to access and parse data from encrypted backup files may be the only lead to smartphone data relating to your investigation.
Forensic examiners must understand the concept of interpreting and analyzing the information on smartphones, as well as the limitations of existing methods for extracting data from these devices. This course day covers how to handle encryption issues, BlackBerry Enterprise Server data, and locked devices. Manual decoding of BlackBerry data will provide access to a vast amount of data that forensics tools seem to miss.
Both BlackBerry and iOS backup files are commonly a part of digital forensic investigations. This section provides students with a deep understanding of backup file contents, manual decoding, and parsing and cracking of encrypted backup file images.
During hands-on exercises, students will use smartphone forensics tools to extract and analyze a wide variety of information from BlackBerry devices, SD cards with encrypted data and iOS and BlackBerry backup files. Students will be required to manually decode data that were encrypted or deleted, or that are unrecoverable using smartphone forensics tools.
CPE/CMU Credits: 6
Backup File Forensics Overview
Creating and Parsing Backup Files
Evidentiary Locations on Backup Files (Focus on iOS and BlackBerry Backup Files)
Locked Backup Files
BlackBerry Forensics Overview
BlackBerry File System and Evidentiary Locations
BlackBerry Forensic Analysis
|FOR585.5: Third-Party Application and Other Smartphone Device Forensics|
Focus: Given the prevalence of other types of smartphones around the world, it is critical for examiners to develop a foundation of understanding about data storage on multiple devices. Nokia smartphones running the Symbian operating system may no longer be manufactured, but they still exist in the wild. You must acquire skills for handling and parsing data from uncommon smartphone devices. This course day will prepare you to deal with "misfit" smartphone devices and provide you with advanced methods for decoding data stored in third-party applications across all smartphones.
This course day will cover other smartphone devices such as Nokia (Symbian), Chinese knock-offs, and Windows phones. These devices retain information about user activities that can be relevant in a digital investigation, including e-mail, web browsing, user-created files, and registry entries. We will cover techniques for parsing common data structures on these smartphone devices and recovering deleted items.
During hands-on exercises, you will use smartphone forensic tools to extract and analyze a wide variety of information from a Chinese knock-off phone. Students will be required to manually decode data that were deleted or are unrecoverable using smartphone forensic tools. The third-party application hands-on exercise will be a compilation of everything you have learned up until now in the course and will require the manual decoding of third-party application data from multiple smartphones.
CPE/CMU Credits: 6
Third-Party Applications on Smartphones Overview
Third-Party Application Locations on Smartphones
Decoding Third-Party Application Data on Smartphones
Knock-off Phone Forensics
Nokia (Symbian) Forensics
Windows Phone/Mobile Forensics
|FOR585.6: Smartphone Forensic Capstone Exercise|
Focus: This final course day will test all that you have learned during the course. Working in small groups, students will examine three smartphone devices and solve a scenario relating to a real-world smartphone forensic investigation. Each group will independently analyze the three smartphones, manually decode data, answer specific questions, form an investigation hypothesis, develop a report, and present findings.
By requiring student groups to present their findings to the class, this capstone exercise will test your understanding of the techniques taught during the week. The findings should be technical and include manual recovery steps and the thought process behind the investigative steps. An executive summary of findings is also expected.
Each group will be asked to answer the key questions listed below during the capstone exercise, just as they would during a real-world digital investigation:
Identification and Scoping
CPE/CMU Credits: 6
!!IMPORTANT - BRING YOUR OWN SYSTEM CONFIGURED USING THESE INSTRUCTIONS!!
Each student participating in this course needs a properly configured 64-bit system. Before coming to class, carefully read and follow these instructions exactly.
As your core operating system, you can use any 64-bit version of Windows, Mac OSX, or Linux that can also install and run VMware virtualization products.
It is critical that your CPU and operating system support 64 bits so that our 64-bit guest virtual machine will run on your laptop. VMware provides a free tool for Windows and Linux that will detect whether your host supports 64-bit guest virtual machines. For further troubleshooting, this Microsoft Support article provides instructions for Windows users to learn more about the CPU and OS capabilities. For Macs, please use this support page from Apple to determine 64-bit capability.
Please download and install VMware Workstation 12.0, VMware Fusion 8.0, or VMware Player 12.0 on your system prior to beginning the class. (Note: This is required to prevent issues with USB 3.0 ports.) If you do not own a licensed copy of VMware Workstation or Fusion, you can download a free 30-day trial copy from VMware. VMware will send you a time-limited serial number if you register for the trial on its website.
Mandatory Hardware Requirements
Mandatory Software Requirements
Install the following on your host Windows machine (if Mac/Linux host, install inside Windows VM):
IN SUMMARY, BEFORE YOU BEGIN THIS COURSE YOU SHOULD:
If you have additional questions about the laptop specifications, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Who Should Attend|
FOR585 is designed for students who are both new to and experienced with mobile device forensics. The course provides the core knowledge and hands-on skills that a digital forensics investigator needs to process smartphones and other mobile devices. The course is a must for:
While FOR408 is not a prerequisite for this course, a basic understanding of digital forensics file structures will help the student grasp topics that are more advanced. FOR585 covers advanced topics that should enhance all skill sets of those interested in digital forensics.
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|What You Will Receive|
|You Will Be Able To|
This course features 17 hands-on labs and a final forensics challenge to ensure that students not only learn the material, but can also execute techniques to manually recover data. The labs cover the following topics:
|Press & Reviews|
"This is the most advanced mobile device training that I know of and is greatly needed. It is currently the only course being taught at this level!" - Scott McNamee, DoS/CACI
"As an experienced user of the tools, I found FOR585 very instructional on how and why these tools give the results they do during an examination." - SA Charles Cox, FBI Computer Analysis and Response Team
"FOR585 is the best out there." - Andy Nind, British Army
"This course is worth it, even for a novice like myself." - S. Gentry, Adobe
"This course was very high-quality training that provided exactly what was advertised!....Great BlackBerry lab. I have never dug this deep in a BlackBerry before." - C. McCollom, Clark County Sheriff's Office
This was an awesome class! Amazing amount of material and the capstone tied it all together." - D. Mayer, Broomsfield Police Department
"I finally know what I have been missing! I did not know I was ignorant." - Mark G., Department of Justice
"If I could afford it I would take this course every year. I am sure I would learn new things as the course evolves to new technology." - Jim Stapleton, student
"I have been working with phones since 2009, and [instructor] Heather [Mahalik] very casually showed me how much I don't know. Excellent!" - Harbin Combee, MPDC
"Advanced smartphone forensics (FOR585) provides students with the tools and strategies required to forensically examine the most widely used computers in the world." - Brad Wardman, PayPal
"The best part about Advanced Smartphone Forensics is it provides real world technologies for forensically investigating devices without the typical point and click approaches." - Andy Gil, ECO
"FOR585 provides forensics investigators with the mentality and set of tools required to forensically examine most types of devices." - Steve Bone, MOD
"Single best course I have taken. Course material laid out in a very logical way that made learning content very easy." - Bart Sims, Devon Energy
"Good, real-world experience. Clearly, Cindy has been there, done that." - Chris Mallow, University of Oklahoma
"Cindy is very knowledgeable and presents concepts in a way that is easy to understand." - Grant Melton, Indianapolis Police
"Every day there are so many great bits of real-world knowledge. It isn't just academic. Mind blowing experience." - Bart Dudek
"Kudos for integration of interpretive dance into file system structure. Awesome." - Bart Dudek
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