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Logical vs. Physical Extraction

Milwaukee Private Detective Cell Phone Forensics

Different Techniques Yield Varying Results

Milwaukee private detective helps you know who your children are textingCell phone forensics is a relatively new extension of computer forensic analysis. Before 2007, it was virtually impossible to recover forensically-sound data from legacy cell phones, smartphones or other personal electronics like GPS navigation systems.

Now, Cellebrite mobile forensics tools give certified analysts the ability to not only extract live data from mobile electronics, but also recover deleted files and passwords.

There are other manufacturers of mobile forensics technology now, but Cellebrite was the first, and their tools remain the best. As Milwaukee’s leading private detective agency handling computer and smartphone investigations, Spindletop Investigations provides cell phone data extraction services using Cellebrite’s UFED Touch system, guaranteed to work with the widest selection of cell phones, tablets, GPS units and memory cards.

There are two methods for retrieving data from a cell phone: logical extraction and physical extraction. Logical extraction is easier and less time-consuming, but returns less information. Physical extraction is more difficult and takes much longer, but has a greater return of hidden or deleted information.

Logical Extraction of Cell Phone Data

In the process of logical extraction, the extraction tool communicates with the device using its own programming language, which is available from device vendors and comes pre-loaded into the UFED system.

Live data which can be acquired through logical extraction include:

  • call and text logs
  • contact lists
  • passwords to active social media like Facebook or Twitter
  • saved photos and videos
  • data from apps like Tindr or OkCupid
  • IMEI and ESN data

The recovered data is preserved in its original state with forensically-sound integrity admissible in a court of law.

Logical extraction is the quickest way for us to recover this data, but there are limitations. Logical extractions will not recover deleted files, and the process cannot be performed on locked or password-protected devices.

Physical Extraction of Cell Phone Data

Cell phone forensics tools read SIM cards and file system memory

Physical extraction closely resembles the post-mortem acquisition process of computer forensics. A physical extraction will create a bit-for-bit replica of all of the data contained within the mobile device, including hidden and deleted files.

Cellebrite internally develops their own custom boot loaders for every device on the market. Using a boot loader, the UFED is able to bypass system locks and passcodes for many devices.

In addition to the information derived from logical extraction, physical extraction can yield the following:

  • deleted passwords
  • deleted files, photos and videos
  • deleted Snapchat pics
  • deleted text messages, contacts and call logs
  • location tags & GPS fixes

Physical extraction of cell phone data leaves no signs an investigation occurred after the extraction is complete. Cellebrite’s boot loaders are read-only, meaning the data is left forensically intact and untampered.

Private Investigation Services in Wisconsin

Efficient and Confidential Detective Agency

Spindletop Investigations provides private detective services throughout Southeast Wisconsin. Cell phone data extraction has helped men and women find out if their spouse is cheating, families worried their children are endangered, we have even assisted local police departments who lack their own internal digital forensics lab.

We also provide professional legal investigation services to Wisconsin law firms. Cell phone data extraction can assist legal investigations and e-discovery in civil cases including lawsuits and divorce, proof of parental fitness, even accusations of FMLA or worker’s comp abuse.

Hire the Wisconsin private detective who is best-equipped to discover the truth below the surface.


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CONFIDENTIALITY DISCLAIMER All information obtained during the course of an investigation will remain confidential and solely between the investigator, Spindletop Investigations, LLC, and the client. However, private investigators are legally required to report any instances of child pornography or sexual crimes against children. Spindletop Investigations may choose to report other potentially serious crimes if they involve the risk of the loss of life. Spindletop Investigations will not pursue any unrelated leads outside the agreed upon scope of the investigation. As part of the consultation, Spindletop Investigations will work with the client in advance to fully define the scope of the investigation as well as all legal exceptions to our confidentiality agreement.

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