Electronic Crime Scene Investigation: A Guide for First Responders, Second Edition

April 14, 2008

Chapter 1. Electronic Devices: Types, Descriptions and Potential Evidence

Section 3 — Handheld Devices

Description: Handheld devices are portable data storage devices that provide communications, digital photography, navigation systems, entertainment, data storage, and personal information management.

Potential evidence: Handheld devices such as mobile phones, smart phones, PDAs, digital multimedia (audio and video) devices, pagers, digital cameras, and global positioning system (GPS) receivers may contain software applications, data, and information such as documents, e-mail messages, Internet browsing history, Internet chat logs and buddy lists, photographs, image files, databases, and financial records that are valuable evidence in an investigation or prosecution.

YIELD! It is important to note that—

  • Data or digital evidence may be lost if power is not maintained.
  • Data or digital evidence on some devices such as mobile or smart phones can be overwritten or deleted while the device remains activated.
  • Software is available for mobile and smart phones that can be activated remotely to render the device unusable and make the data it contains inaccessible if the phone is lost or stolen. This software can produce similar results if activated on a device seized by law enforcement. First responders should take precautions to prevent the loss of data on devices they seize as evidence.
Date Created: April 9, 2008