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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
      • 3 Months Ago
      Good luck with this one......Its fruits of the poisonous tree. This is a violation of ones civil rights and will not hold any water in court. As Rob stated, unless you have consent from the owner or the police have a search warrant this is an illlegal search. If there are laws prohibiting use of a cell phone while driving in your state, the officer should write that up according to the statute on the ticket as you were witnessed by that officer using the device. It should go no farther then that.
      • 3 Months Ago
      NO PASSWORD NO DATA. Thanks Josh. Thats what i thought because even when i try to sync my blackberry on my home system, i have to go in and disable the password before my computer can sync with the phone. simple keep the phone locked.
      Denis
      • 3 Months Ago
      I'm sure it is unlawful for the police to access cell phones w/o a warrant. That's a lawsuit waiting to happen.
      • 3 Months Ago
      This is some grade A bull ****.
      JIM
      • 3 Months Ago
      Can't someone come up with a gaget that will send a voltage spike out if someone connects to it and fries or at least sends some bad data back to whatever rendering it useless?
      smileandactnice8
      • 3 Months Ago
      I see a lawsuit waiting to happen... And me too, that would be the frikkin day when any pig gets my phone!!! "Subpoena a**hole!!"
      • 3 Months Ago
      This gets used by a bunch of low-class creeps trying to feel important by studying everyone's communications and locations.
      • 3 Months Ago
      So, you didn't really say what they would use the information for. To see if you've been calling/texting during driving? Obviously just taking someones info is illegal.
      ccb333
      • 3 Months Ago
      I don't like speeding tickets any more than anyone else but I dislike the ACLU even more. Those bearded freaks have distroyed so much in our country starting with our educational system downfall - thanks to them.
      • 3 Months Ago
      Can we say HITLER
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is a blatant over reach by our newly formed police state. Our founding fathers are rolling over in the graves. Due process and being safe and secure in your person and papers flew out the window. The United States of America that I grew up in no longer exists.
      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
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