Forensic investigators should routinely determine if backup files exist during their initial case assessment. A backup file is a like a snapshot of the devices memory in time. It is an excellent alternative to a lost or locked device or when other forensic procedures cannot recover the data. A backup may be found in the cloud or may be stored on a computer or mobile device. It would require the user’s credentials or a forensic acquisition of the device it was stored in. Attempts to restore a backup without the proper training could result in the contamination and permanent loss of data. A backup file is also a good alternative when faced with a locked device with an unknown pass code. However, advances in technology allow examiners to overcome more locked devices than ever before. Because of the rapid pace of technology, the forensic community lags behind. New tools are created regularly so reviewing the latest forensic capabilities periodically is recommended. Damaged devices can often be accessed after making only minor repairs, more often than not. For example, the simple and inexpensive process of replacing a broken screen may be the only thing preventing the examiner from accessing the device. Water damage can also be easily mitigated, but requires the investigator to follow a recently updated standard procedure. Depending on the device and the current state of the devices power certain actions should be taken. See the iPhone Collection Flowchart and the Android Collection Flowchart.
A New Haven, CT man who served 17 years in prison for murder and robbery was freed back on April 25, 2018 after he was exonerated by cellphone records. Read Article The digital evidence is out there to save more lives, but defense teams may not be as educated as the prosecution, who have access to state labs, as to what to look for, where to look for, and how to obtain all the necessary digital evidence needed to prevent or exonerate wrongful convictions. For further information see: Digital Evidence Case Assessment Method Digital Evidence Innocence Initiative