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Munich Winter 2016

Munich, Germany | Mon, Feb 15 - Sat, Feb 20, 2016
This event is over,
but there are more training opportunities.

FOR585: Advanced Smartphone Forensics

Mon, February 15 - Sat, February 20, 2016

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

With so many security measures put in place by OS and app devs, the analysis techniques taught in this course are an absolute necessity. If the good guys want to stay head of the bad guys, this course is a must.

Luis Martinez, Westchester District Attorney’s Office

FOR585: Advanced Smartphone Forensics will help you understand:

  1. Where key evidence is located on a smartphone
  2. How the data got onto the smartphone
  3. How to recover deleted mobile device data that most forensic tools miss
  4. How to decode evidence stored in third-party applications
  5. How to detect, decompile, and analyze mobile malware and spyware
  6. How to handle locked or encrypted devices, applications, and containers




A smartphone lands on your desk and you are tasked with determining if the user was at a specific location at a specific date and time. You rely on your forensic tools to dump and parse the data. The tools show location information tying the device to the place of interest. Are you ready to prove the user was at that location? Do you know how to take this further to place the subject at the location of interest at that specific date and time? Tread carefully, because the user may not have done what the tools are showing!

Mobile devices are often a key factor in criminal cases, intrusions, IP theft, security threats, and more. Understanding how to leverage the data from the device in a correct manner can make or break your case and your future as an expert. FOR585: Advanced Smartphone Forensics will teach you those skills.

Every time the smartphone "thinks" or makes a suggestion, the data is saved. It's easy to get mixed up in what the forensic tools are reporting. Smartphone forensics is more than pressing the "find evidence" button and getting answers. Your team cannot afford to rely solely on the tools in your lab. You have to understand how to use them correctly to guide your investigation, instead of just letting the tool report what it believes happened on the device. It is impossible for commercial tools to parse everything from smartphones and understand how the data were put on the device. Examining and interpreting the data is your job, and this course will provide you and your organization with the capability to find and extract the correct evidence from smartphones with confidence.

This in-depth smartphone forensic course provides examiners and investigators with advanced skills to detect, decode, decrypt, and correctly interpret evidence recovered from mobile devices. The course features 17 hands-on labs that allow students to analyze different datasets from smart devices and leverage the best forensic tools and custom scripts to learn how smartphone data hide and can be easily misinterpreted by forensic tools. Each lab is designed to teach you a lesson that can be applied to other smartphones. You will gain experience with the different data formats on multiple platforms and learn how the data is stored and encoded on each type of smart device. The labs will open your eyes to what you are missing by relying 100% on your forensic tools.

FOR585 is continuously updated to keep up with the latest malware, smartphone operating systems, third-party applications, and encryption. This intensive six-day course offers the most unique and current instruction available, and it will arm you with mobile device forensic knowledge you can apply immediately to cases you're working on the day you leave the course.

Smartphone technologies are constantly changing, and most forensic professionals are unfamiliar with the data formats for each technology. Take your skills to the next level: it's 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!



FOR585 Course Topics

Malware and Spyware on Smartphones

  • Determining if malware or spyware exist
  • Handling the isolation of the malware
  • Decompiling malware to conduct in-depth analysis
  • Determining what has been compromised

Forensic Analysis of Smartphones and Their Components

  • Android
  • iOS
  • BlackBerry
  • Windows Phone
  • Nokia (Symbian)
  • Chinese knock-offs
  • SD and SIM cards
  • Cloud-based backups and storage

Deep-Dive Forensic 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 and verify results
  • Understanding the user-based and smartphone-based artifacts

In-Depth Usage and Capabilities of the Best Smartphone Forensic Tools

  • Using your tools in ways you didn't know was possible
  • Leveraging custom scripts to parse deleted data
  • Data carving
  • Conducting physical and logical keyword searches
  • Manually creating timeline generation and link analysis using information from smartphones
  • Reporting
  • Plotting geolocation information from smartphones and smartphone components

Handling Locked and Encrypted Devices

  • Extracting evidence from locked smartphones
  • Bypassing encryption (kernel and application level)
  • Decrypting backups of smartphones
  • Decrypting third-party application files
  • Manually cracking lockdown files for smartphones
  • Examining encrypted data from SD 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.

Course Syllabus

Heather Mahalik
Mon Feb 15th, 2016
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM


Focus: Although smartphone forensic concepts are similar to those of digital forensics, smartphone file system structures differ and require specialized decoding skills to interpret correctly the data acquired from the device. On this first course day, students will apply what they know to smartphone forensic handling, device capabilities, acquisition methods, and data encoding concepts of smartphone components. Students will also become familiar with the forensic 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 and analyze it. Most commercial tools help you identify malware, but none of them will allow you to tear down the malware to the level we cover in class. 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 categorized to set our expectations for what we can recover using digital forensic methodologies. We review the properties of Flash memory in mobile devices and demonstrate the pros and cons from a forensic 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 forensic perspective, then learn tactics to recover information that even forensic tools may not always be able to retrieve.

The SIFT Workstation has been specifically loaded with a set of smartphone forensic tools that will be your primary toolkit and working environment for the week.

  • SIFT Workstation: Laboratory setup
  • Hands-on demonstrations and familiarization with smartphone forensic tools
  • Two malware labs: Malware analysis, and unpacking and analyzing .apk malware files
  • JTAG password cracking lab: Load and crack an Android password from a JTAG image
  • Introduction to data decoding: Manually decoding data records and learning how to perform advanced searches to recover data

CPE/CMU Credits: 6


The SIFT Workstation

Malware and Spyware Forensics

  • Different Types of Common Malware
  • Common Locations on Smartphones
  • How to Determine a Compromise
  • How to Recover from a Compromise
    • What Was Affected?
    • How to Isolate?
  • How to Analyze Using Reverse-Engineering Methodologies

Introduction to Smartphones

  • Smartphone Components and Identifiers
  • Assessing Capabilities of Evidential Devices
  • Common File Systems
  • Forensic Impact of Flash Memory
  • Data Storage Broken Down and Defined

Smartphone Handling

  • Preserving Smartphone Evidence
  • Preventing Data Destruction

Forensic Acquisition Concepts of Smartphones

  • Logical Acquisition
  • File System Acquisition
  • Physical Acquisition
  • Advanced Methods

Smartphone Forensic Tools Overview

  • Physical and Logical Keyword Searching
  • Data Carving
  • Exporting and Bookmarking Data
  • Malware Scanning
  • Reporting

JTAG Forensics

  • What Is JTAG?
  • How to Analyze Data Acquired Using JTAG Methods

Smartphone Components

  • SIM Card Examination
  • SD Card Handling and Examination
  • Manual Decoding of Recovered Data

Bonus Materials

  • Malware/Spyware Cheat Sheet
  • APK Decompiling Cheat Sheet
  • Mobile Device Repair
  • Acquisition of Smartphones Using Tools Provided in SIFT VM
  • Acquisition of SIM Cards
  • Relevant White Papers and Guides

Heather Mahalik
Tue Feb 16th, 2016
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM


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, unless you hone 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 forensic 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 forensic tools to extract, decode, and analyze a wide variety of information from Android devices.

  • Manually cracking a lockcode on an Android device
  • Manually decoding and extracting information from Android file systems and logical acquisitions
  • Introduction to parsing third-party applications manually and deep-dive decoding and recovery of user activities on Android devices
  • Manually decoding and interpreting data recovered from a physical dump of an Android device

CPE/CMU Credits: 6


Android Forensics Overview

  • Android Architecture and Components
  • NAND Flash Memory in Android Devices
  • Android File System Overview

Handling Locked Android Devices

  • Security Options on Android
  • Methods for Bypassing Locked Android Devices
  • Demonstration of Bypassing Android Security and Encryption
  • Practical Tips for Accessing Locked Android Devices

Android File System Structures

  • Defining Data Structure Layout
    • Physical
    • File System
    • Logical
  • Data Storage Formats
  • Parsing and Carving Data
  • Physical and Logical Keyword Searches

Android Evidentiary Locations

  • Primary Evidentiary Locations
  • Unique File Recovery
  • Parsing SQLite Database Files
  • Manual Decoding of Android Data

Traces of User Activity on Android Devices

  • How Android Applications Store Data
  • Deep Dive into Data Structures on Android Smartphones
    • SMS/MMS
    • Calls, Contacts, and Calendars
    • E-mail and Web Browsing
    • Location Information
    • Third-Party Applications
  • Salvaging Deleted SQLite Records
  • Salvaging Deleted Data from Raw Images on Android Devices

Bonus Materials

  • Android Cheat Sheet
  • Android Acquisition Methods
  • Relevant White Papers and Guides

Heather Mahalik
Wed Feb 17th, 2016
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM


Focus: Apple 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 forensic investigation.

Digital forensic 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 forensic tools to extract and analyze a wide variety of information from iOS devices. Students will also be required to decode data manually that were deleted or are typically unrecoverable using smartphone forensic tools.

  • Manually decoding and extracting information from iOS file system and logical acquisitions
  • Introduction to parsing third-party applications manually and deep-dive decoding and recovery of user activities on iOS devices
  • Manually decoding and interpreting data from iOS physical data dumps

CPE/CMU Credits: 6


iOS Forensic Overview and Acquisition

  • iOS Architecture and Components
  • NAND Flash Memory in iOS Devices
  • iOS File Systems
  • iOS Versions
  • iOS Encryption

iOS File System Structures

  • Defining Data Structure Layout
    • Physical
    • File System
    • Logical
  • Data Storage Formats
  • Parsing and Carving Data
  • Physical and Logical Keyword Searches

iOS Evidentiary Locations

  • Primary Evidentiary Locations
  • Unique File Recovery
  • Parsing SQLite Database Files
  • Manual Decoding of iOS Data

Handling Locked iOS Devices

  • Security Options on iOS
  • Current Acquisition Issues
  • Demonstration of Bypassing iOS Security
  • Practical Tips for Accessing Locked iOS Devices

Traces of User Activity on iOS Devices

  • How iOS Applications Store Data
  • Apple Watch Forensics
  • Deep Dive into Data Structures on iOS Devices
    • SMS/MMS
    • Calls, Contacts, and Calendar
    • E-mail and Web Browsing
    • Location Information
    • Third-Party Applications
  • Salvaging Deleted SQLite Records
  • Salvaging Deleted Data from Raw Images

Bonus Materials

  • iOS Cheat Sheet
  • iOS Acquisition Methods
  • Relevant White Papers and Guides

Heather Mahalik
Thu Feb 18th, 2016
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM


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 those data need 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 forensic 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 forensic tools seem to miss.

Both BlackBerry and iOS backup files are commonly 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 forensic 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 forensic tools.

  • Advanced backup file forensic exercise involving an iOS backup file that requires manual decoding and carving to recover data missed by smartphone forensic tools.
  • Advanced backup file forensic exercise involving a BlackBerry backup file that requires manual decoding and carving to recover data missed by smartphone forensic tools.
  • Manually decoding and extracting information from a BlackBerry file system and physical data dump.

CPE/CMU Credits: 6


Backup File Forensics Overview

  • Why This Is Relevant

Common File Formats For Smartphone Backups (Cloud and Disk-based)

  • iOS
  • BlackBerry
  • Android
  • Nokia

Creating and Parsing Backup Files

  • Verifying Backup File Data

Evidentiary Locations on Backup Files (Focus on iOS and BlackBerry Backup Files)

  • What Is Missed by Smartphone Forensic Tools
  • Examining Event Logs
  • Examining Database and PList Files
  • Manual Decoding of Evidentiary Data

Locked Backup Files

  • Decrypting Locked iOS Backup Files
  • Decrypting Locked BlackBerry Backup Files

BlackBerry Forensic Overview

  • BlackBerry Architecture
  • Malware on BlackBerry Smartphones

BlackBerry File System, Evidentiary Locations and Forensic Analysis

  • Parsing Device Specific Files
  • Recovering Data from Physical Acquisitions
  • Unique File Recovery
  • Recovering Encrypted Data from SD cards
  • BlackBerry 10 OS

Bonus Materials

  • BlackBerry Cheat Sheets
  • BlackBerry File Acquisition Methods
  • Backup File Acquisition Methods
  • Relevant White Papers and Guides

Heather Mahalik
Fri Feb 19th, 2016
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM


Focus: This day starts with third-party applications across all smartphones and is designed to teach students how to leverage third-party application data and preference files to support an investigation. Next, other smartphones not afforded a full day of instruction are discussed and labs for each are provided. 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. 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. The day ends with the students challenging themselves using tools and methods learned throughout the week to recover user data from a wiped Windows Phone.

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 Chinese knock-off and Nokia phones. 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. The Windows Phone lab requires knowledge learned on each day of the course to recover user data manually from a wiped device.

  • Advanced third-party application exercise requiring students to use skills learned during the first four days of the course to decode manually communications stored in third-party application files across multiple smartphones.
  • Knock-off phone exercise requiring manual decoding of a knock-off handset physically acquired using the Cellebrite CHINEX.
  • A Nokia lab requiring manual parsing and identification of devices based upon file system dumps from multiple devices. This lab challenges students to put together several concepts learned during the week.
  • A Windows phone lab requiring the use of all tools and methods to recover user data from a wiped device.

CPE/CMU Credits: 6


Third-Party Applications on Smartphones Overview

  • Common Applications Across Smartphones

Third-Party Application Locations on Smartphones

  • How to Locate
  • Data Format

Decoding Third-Party Application Data on Smartphones

  • Manual Recovery
  • Decoding Methods

Knock-off Phone Forensics

  • Knock-off Phone Overview
  • Forensic Analysis
  • Evidentiary Locations
  • Manual Decoding of Knock-off File System Data

Nokia (Symbian) Forensics

  • Symbian Features Overview
  • Evidentiary Locations

Windows Phone/Mobile Forensics

  • Windows Phone/Mobile
  • Evidentiary Locations
  • Manual Recovery and Parsing

Heather Mahalik
Sat Feb 20th, 2016
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM


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

  • What is the criminal operation?
  • What devices are involved?
  • Which individuals are involved?

Forensic Examination

  • What were the key communications between individuals?
  • What methods were used to secure the communication?
  • Were any of the mobile devices compromised by malware?

Forensic Reconstruction

  • What is the motive?

In addition, students will be required to generate a forensic report.

CPE/CMU Credits: 6

Additional Information


Before coming to class, carefully read and follow these instructions precisely.

Each student participating in this course needs a properly configured 64-bit system. For your core operating system, you may use any 64-bit version of Windows, Mac OSX, or Linux that also is able to 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.

  • For Windows and Linux: VMware provides a free tool 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

  • CPU: A 64-bit Intel® x64 2.0+ GHz processor or higher-based system is mandatory for this course. (Important - Please read: a 64-bit system processor is mandatory)
  • Wireless 802.11 B, G, N, or AC networking capability (required for labs and licensing).
  • USB 3.0 Port(s)
  • 8 gigabytes of RAM minimum (more RAM is recommended due to virtual machine requirements)
  • 100 gigabytes of free space on your system hard drive
  • Students must have the capability to have Local Administrator Access within their host operating system

Mandatory Software Requirements

  • Host operating system: Fully patched and updated Windows (7+), Mac OSX (10.10+), or recent version of Linux operating system (released 2014 or later) that also can install and run VMware virtualization products (VMware Workstation, VMware Fusion, or VMware Player). Please note: It is necessary to fully update your host operating system prior to the class to ensure you have the right drivers and patches installed to utilize the latest USB 3.0 devices. Those who use a Linux host must also be able to access ExFAT partitions using the appropriate kernel or FUSE modules.
  • Install VMware Workstation, VMware Player, or VMware Fusion.
  • Download and install 7Zip for Windows or Mac.


  1. Bring the proper system hardware (64 bit/8 GB RAM) and operating system configuration.
  2. Install VMware (Workstation, Player, or Fusion) and 7Zip.
  3. Bring a mouse if it's going to help you navigate your evidence.

If you have additional questions about the laptop specifications, please contact

FOR585 is designed to be valuable for students regardless of whether they are new to or experienced with smartphone and mobile device forensics. The course provides the core knowledge and hands-on skills that a digital forensic investigator needs to process smartphones and other mobile devices. The course is a must for:

  • Experienced digital forensic examiners who want to extend their knowledge and experience to forensic analysis of mobile devices, especially smartphones
  • Media exploitation analysts who need to master Tactical Exploitation or Document and Media Exploitation (DOMEX) operations on smartphones and mobile devices by learning how individuals used their smartphones, who they communicated with, and what files they accessed
  • Information security professionals who respond to data breach incidents and intrusions
  • Incident response teams tasked with identifying the role that smartphones played in a breach
  • Law enforcement officers, federal agents, or detectives who want to master smartphone forensics and expand their investigative skills beyond traditional host-based digital forensics
  • IT auditors who want to learn how smartphones can expose sensitive information
  • Graduates of SANS SEC575, FOR408, FOR508, FOR572 or FOR518 who want to take their skills to the next level.

There is no prerequisite for this course, but a basic understanding of file system structures and forensic terminology will help the student grasp topics that are more advanced. Previous training in mobile device forensic acquisition methods is also useful, but not required.

Related Courses

FOR585 is an ideal course for graduates of SANS SEC575, FOR408, FOR508, FOR572 and FOR518 who want to take their skills to the next level. Most of these courses can be taken in any order.

  • Smartphone Analysis Windows SIFT Workstation
    • A SIFT Windows virtual machine (Smartphone Version) is used with all hands-on exercises to teach students how to examine and investigate information on smartphones. The SIFT virtual machine design for this course contains free and open-source tools, easily matching any modern forensic tool suite
    • Windows 10 Standard License
  • 90-day Licenses to Popular Smartphone Analysis Tools
    • Oxygen Forensics
    • Microsystemation XRY Reader
    • Cellebrite Physical Analyzer
    • Magnet Forensics IEF Mobile
    • Andriller
    • Forensic Toolkit for SQLite
    • Open-Source Tools
    • Bonus Acquisition Tools upon Request (UFED4PC)
  • 32 GB Course USB
    • 32 GB USB 3.0 - loaded with smartphone case images, Windows SIFT workstation (smartphone version), tools, and documentation
  • SANS Advanced Smartphone Forensics Exercise Workbook
    • The course exercise workbook is over 265 pages long with detailed step-by-step instructions and examples to help you become a master smartphone examiner
  • MP3 audio files of the complete course lecture
  • Select the most effective forensic tools, techniques, and procedures for critical analysis of smartphone data
  • Reconstruct events surrounding a crime using information from smartphones, including timeline development and link analysis (e.g., who communicated with whom, where, and when)
  • Understand how smartphone file systems store data, how they differ, and how the evidence will be stored on each device
  • Interpret file systems on smartphones and locate information that is not generally accessible to users
  • Identify how the evidence got onto the mobile device - we'll teach you how to know if the user created the data, which will help you avoid the critical mistake of reporting false evidence obtained from tools
  • Incorporate manual decoding techniques to recover deleted data stored on smartphones and mobile devices
  • Tie a user to a smartphone at a specific date/time and at various locations
  • Recover hidden or obfuscated communication from applications on smartphones
  • Decrypt or decode application data that are not parsed by your forensic tools
  • Detect smartphones compromised by malware and spyware using forensic methods
  • Decompile and analyze mobile malware using open-source tools
  • Handle encryption on smartphones and bypass, crack, and/or decode lock codes manually recovered from smartphones, including cracking iOS backup files that were encrypted with iTunes
  • Understand how data is stored on smartphone components (SD cards) and how encrypted data can be examined by leveraging the smartphone
  • Extract and use information from smartphones and their components, including Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Nokia (Symbian), Chinese knock-offs, SIM cards, and SD cards
  • Perform advanced forensic examinations of data structures on smartphones by diving deeper into underlying data structures that many tools do not interpret
  • Analyze SQLite databases and raw data dumps from smartphones to recover deleted information
  • Perform advanced data-carving techniques on smartphones to validate results and extract missing or deleted data
  • Apply the knowledge you acquire during the course to conduct a full-day smartphone capstone event involving multiple devices and modeled after real-world smartphone investigations

This course features 17 hands-on labs and a final forensic 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:

  • Malware and Spyware - Two labs are designed to teach students how to decompact and statically analyze - manually - malware recovered from an Android device. The processes used here reach beyond the commercial forensic kits and methods.
  • JTAG Password Cracking - This lab shows students how to load images acquired using JTAG methods and how to crack the lockcode on the device.
  • Android Analysis - Three labs are designed to teach students how to crack into locked devices manually, carve for deleted data, validate tool results, and parse third-party application files for user-created data not commonly parsed by commercial forensic tools. Open-source methods are utilized and highlighted where possible. An additional lab teaches students how to crack lockcodes manually from Android devices.
  • iOS Analysis - Two labs are designed to teach students how to carve for deleted data manually, validate tool results, and parse third-party application files for user-created data not commonly parsed by commercial forensic tools. In addition, methods for "tricking" your tools into parsing data from encrypted images are built into the labs.
  • Backup File Analysis - Two labs are designed to teach students how to parse data from iOS and BlackBerry backup files. These labs will drive students to parse data from database files, records, plist, and third-party application data.
  • BlackBerry Analysis - This all-encompassing lab provides several images to enable students to obtain the full picture of what is captured during various acquisition methods, how data are manually carved and parsed, and how BlackBerry proprietary formats can affect their investigations. The most important aspect of this lab is how to view encrypted data from SD cards. The methods used in this lab will apply to other smartphones that contain SD cards (Android, Windows Phone, Nokia, etc.)
  • Third-Party Application Analysis and Knock-off Phone Analysis - These labs challenge students to examine third-party applications pulled from multiple smartphone devices, and to handle knock-off devices that are not commonly parsed by commercial tools.
  • Windows Phone Analysis - This is the most challenging lab for students, as the device was wiped prior to acquisition. The lab tests all of the methods you learned during the five days to see what can really be recovered from a wiped Windows Phone.
  • Smartphone Forensic Capstone - The final challenge tests what students have learned in the course. It features multiple smartphone devices used in various locations involving communication, third-party applications, Internet history, cloud and network activity, shared data, and more. The exercise encourages students to dig deep and showcase what they learned in FOR585 so that they can apply it immediately to their work when returning to their jobs.

"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." - 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 where 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

Authors' Statements

"Digital forensic investigations almost always involve a smartphone or mobile device. Often, the smartphone is the only form of digital evidence relating to the investigation and is the most personal device a person owns! Let's be honest: how many people share their smartphones like they do computers? Not many. Knowing how to recover all of the data residing on the smartphone is now an expectation in our field, and examiners must understand the fundamentals of smartphone handling, data recovery, accessing locked devices, and manually recovering data hiding in the background on the device. FOR585: Advanced Smartphone Forensics provides this required knowledge to beginners in mobile device forensics and to mobile device experts. This course has something to offer everyone! There is nothing out there that competes with this course." - Heather Mahalik

"One thing is clear no matter whether you work in law enforcement or the private sector: the importance of evidence obtained from smartphones and other mobile devices has become crucial to all kinds of investigations. Solid foundational knowledge, skills, and techniques in mobile device forensics are no longer optional. Developed by passionate practitioners with a high level of experience in the field, FOR585: Advanced Smartphone Forensics provides the elements you need to succeed in your investigations and thrive in the rapidly changing mobile device forensics environment." - Cindy Murphy

"Eighty-five percent of the world's population today has a mobile phone. In the United States alone, almost half of these devices are smartphones. The tools and techniques for acquiring and analyzing these devices are changing every day. As the handsets become more sophisticated in the storage and obfuscation of personal user data, the tools and practitioners are in a race to uncover data related to investigations. The concepts covered in FOR585: Advanced Smartphone Forensics will not only highlight some of the best tools available for acquiring and analyzing the smart devices on the market today, they will also provide examiners with best practices and techniques for delving deeper into smart devices as new applications and challenges arise. FOR585 keeps students ahead of the curve!" - Domenica Crognale