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You may have heard about the Cellebrite cell phone extraction device (UFED) in the news lately. It gives law enforcement officials the ability to access all the information on your cell phone within a few short minutes. When it became known that Michigan State Police had been using the tool to access cell phones during traffic stops, it raised concern with the ACLU. Now, everyone is wondering if cops will be using devices like this elsewhere. Will this new law enforcement tool be abused, or will it be used responsibly in the pursuit of justice? Call us paranoid, but we obtained a law-enforcement-grade software extraction tool for the iPhone to see exactly what data is up for grabs. You'd be surprised to see just how much data today's smartphones can store -- and police can access.

Click the gallery below to find out...

Cellebrite Cell Phone Extraction Device
  • Cellebrite Cell Phone Extraction Device
  • This is the Cellebrite Cell Phone Extraction Device (UFED) and it can be used by police to extract your cell phone data during a routine traffic stop. The UFED comes in a rugged, road-ready case with all the connectors needed to grab info from almost every type of cell phone and portable GPS unit.

  • Image Credit: CELLBRITE
  • Cellebrite Cell Phone Extraction Device
  • Cellebrite claims that their UFED device can grab data from more than 1800 cellular devices. The UFED is also frequently updated with new phone profiles. Every manufacturer, wireless provider, and mobile operating system is vulnerable.

  • Image Credit: CELLEBRITE
  • Cellebrite Cell Phone Extraction Device
  • After the officer gets hold of your phone, the device is connected to the Cellebrite UFED scanner and a screen pops up to select the cell phone model. As you can see from just the top few, many of the popular phones are represented.

  • Image Credit: CELLEBRITE
  • Cellebrite Cell Phone Extraction Device
  • The next screen shows what data can be pulled from the phone, which the officer will then select from.

  • Image Credit: CELLEBRITE
  • Cellebrite Cell Phone Extraction Device
  • After the data has been snagged from the cell phone, it's stored on a USB flash drive. The officer can then load the data into Cellebrite's app to analyze in an easy to read interface.

  • Image Credit: CELLEBRITE
  • Cellebrite Cell Phone Extraction Device
  • Even deleted call history, text messages, images, phonebook entries and videos can easily be recovered in seconds. The app shows how much deleted data was recovered in red.

  • Image Credit: CELLEBRITE
  • Cellebrite Cell Phone Extraction Device
  • We had to see for ourselves just how much data could be extracted, so we acquired a software program called Lantern from Katana Forensics, which was recently detailed on the tech blog Gizmodo @ http://gizmo.do/kKbzkq. Although Lantern is not the same software Cellebrite uses, its a similar law-enforcement-grade data extraction application, which can nab surprising amounts of data from an iPhone. After a simple extraction that took only a few minutes, Lantern was able to get all of our contacts, call logs, voicemails, text messages (deleted ones too), all our notes, recent map searches, Facebook contacts, all locations (WiFi and Cellular), and current and deleted photos.

  • Cellebrite Cell Phone Extraction Device
  • With the information above, officials could discover your exact past locations for as long as you've owned your phone. There is even a 'map this item' button that will bring up Google Maps, displaying the location. Luckily, this application isn't available for jealous girlfriends or unwanted admirers. Only law enforcement and government officials are able to gain access to Lantern. (We were able to get a short demo version made available to the press.)

  • Cellebrite Cell Phone Extraction Device
  • These tools can be very useful to law enforcement. Say, for example, a homicide was being investigated. Officers would be able to scan cell phone data to obtain the whereabouts of a suspect or victim in hopes of gaining more insight into the investigation. Legally, during traffic stops, officers need a warrant to search your cell phone; however, if you give them your phone voluntarily, they can use these tools to search it. Next time an officer asks you to give up your phone, ask to see a warrant first. Photo credit: dwightsghost, Flickr @ http://flic.kr/p/5hK1oz



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 493 Comments
      Joanie
      • 3 Years Ago
      Big brother in the new millenium
      mcwhomper
      • 3 Years Ago
      you have got to be kidding use that device on a politician when they are making thier backdoor deals and see how fast it becomes unconstitutional
      Jon Mark
      • 3 Years Ago
      1. Smartphones contain a lot of private personal sensitive information (such as credit card numbers, passwords,etc.). I would think that in order for law enforcement to legally access this information, they would need a warrant or show probable cause. 2. What does information on a person's cell phone remotely have to do with being stopped for speeding?
      • 3 Years Ago
      best thing about the iPhone is you can completely wipe and restore it. Screw you piggies you will never get to see the naughty pictures my wife sends me you f""king perverts
      • 4 Months Ago
      if it wasn't for the dumb @#$% that think they need to text and drive, we wouldn't have this problem how many people need to die because these !@#$% dumb asses have to have there pocket ****** in there hand 24 7
      Dear MoonWolf
      • 4 Months Ago
      I guess having the ACLU around looks pretty GOOD to us now!
      • 4 Months Ago
      that's a disgusting invasion of privacy. I understand if you have a legit reason to believe someone is up to no goood and then checking out their cell phone but random people just driving by that's sick! I know me as well as everyone else in the world would not want cops to see everything on your phone this seriously makes me cringe.
      blazerjamie
      • 4 Months Ago
      What a bunch of BullS*(T I see cops texting all the time.
      bohol2528
      • 4 Months Ago
      Without a court order ain't no way this thing is legal.
      • 4 Months Ago
      I've worked in the cell phone industry for over a decade and we've been using the Cellebrite for years. Law enforcement would come in and ask us to retreive data from phones tagged as evidence. If you're concerned about this, just protect your smartphone with a security password. The Cellebrite will require the code to read the phone's data. No password, no data.
      • 4 Months Ago
      Can we say HITLER
      • 4 Months Ago
      This gets used by a bunch of low-class creeps trying to feel important by studying everyone's communications and locations.
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