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.
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.
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.
The next screen shows what data can be pulled from the phone, which the officer will then select from.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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