A field test of mobile phone shielding devices

Eric Katz, Purdue University


Mobile phones are increasingly a source of evidence in criminal investigations. The evidence on a phone is volatile and can easily be overwritten or deleted. There are many tools that claim to radio isolate a phone in order to preserve evidence. Unfortunately the wireless preservation devices do not always successfully prevent network communication as promised. The purpose of this study was to identify situations where the devices used to protect evidence on mobile phones can fail. There has been little published research on how well these devices work in the field despite the escalating importance of mobile phone forensics. These shielding devices were tested using mobile phones from three of the largest services providers in the U.S. Calls were made to contact the isolated phones using voice, SMS, and MMS at varying distances from the provider's towers. In the majority of the test cases the phones were not isolated from their networks despite being enclosed in a shielding device. It was found that SMS calls penetrated the shields the most often. Voice calls were the next most likely to penetrate the shields and MMS were the least.




Mislan, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Electrical engineering|Information science

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