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2005-07-01

[Mobiles] Cellular Forensics & Data Recovery


The excellent and thorough Tom's Hardware site here reviews a forensic (i.e., legal evidence-grade) data recovery program for cellphones.

Most folks don't believe that their cellphone nowadays is a computer, but they are. There are several standardized operating systems for cellphones. There's PalmOS, Linux, several variants on Microsoft's Windows CE (e.g., PocketPC for Phones, Windows Mobile), , and the Symbian Series 40, 60, UIQ, versions 8 & 9, yada, yada.

With a common operating system, comes common data management utilities. That leads to the ability to share knowledge on how the systems work, and what follows are tips on how to hack in and recover data, either data lost by accident or concealed/destroyed with intent. That's long been easy with desktop and laptop systems running Windows, and before that, DOS. Heck, I did this with CP/M waaaaaaaaaay back when, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

NIST created a report last year on recovering data from PalmOS, Linux and Windows CE and appropriate forensics tools for the task.

One of my issues with that report, which NIST back-burnered, were smartphones with other OS. Fortunately, the private sector has stepped up, and Paraben has offered their second-generation product to do just that.

Now, if you lost data, or are looking to recover data, on a removable memory card, you don't need their cellphone-oriented recovery tools; there are many programs (see reviews) under $50, and even some freeware (see here for another), to recover data from removable memory cards, such as the SD/MMC cards found commonly in PDAphones. One manufacturer even includes recovery software and recovery phone tech support with their premium line of SD cards.

The latter sounds like a terrific idea. I don't think I'll be buying any media henceforth without recovery software and support.