Feeds

Mobile networks: the state's new bloodhounds?

Dial L for location

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

Pinning you to the crime scene

The information the police get from your network operator might be enough to place you far from the club and get your judge-friend-alibi into trouble, but it may well not be good enough to place you at the scene. If the crime warrants a big enough budget, the boys in blue might then turn to a mobile phone forensics company to find out more.

A whole industry has sprung up around getting information off mobile phones - a far cry from the days when a drug dealer was picked up with a Psion II full of contacts. These days, professional mobile phone forensics is big business, though interestingly it's one in which anyone can set themselves up and offer their services to the local cop-shop, without so much as an ISO certification. As companies are frequently selected on basis of recommendations from other coppers, once you've got your foot in the door no one is ever likely to check your credentials.

The biggest UK player is Forensic Telecommunication Services Ltd, a company based in Sevenoaks - we can't say where, as they operate out of a number of Post Office boxes. FTS was broken into in August, though its data seems to have remained secure.

A company like FTS will take a handset, of the same model as yours if they can't get the actual handset off you, and place it where the police think you might have been. That way they can compare the exact signal strength with that recorded by the network operator at the time of the crime, allowing a little for atmospherics, or repeating the experiment if necessary. They can lock your phone down to an exact location with a good degree of accuracy - good enough to present to a jury, anyway.

It might not prove you committed the crime, but it could easily strain your alibi to breaking point.

Getting away with it

A pre-paid SIM, paid for in cash, should be standard-issue for anyone planning a crime spree, though few criminals have the foresight for such an investment, and forwarding your old number to it would be something of a giveaway.

Turning off your mobile, and removing the battery for the properly paranoid, should be good enough to ensure you're not being tracked.

If it's already too late, your only hope is that your crime doesn't warrant enough budget to track you down, or that no one notices it for the 12 months the network operators are hanging onto their data.

If you can do that, you'll be free to spend your ill-gotten gains, perhaps on a new mobile, or something rather grander, depending on the crime. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
EE accused of silencing customer gripes on social media pages
Hello. HELLO. Can EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE HEAR ME?!
Time Warner Cable customers SQUEAL as US network goes offline
A rude awakening: North Americans greeted with outage drama
Shoot-em-up: Sony Online Entertainment hit by 'large scale DDoS attack'
Games disrupted as firm struggles to control network
BT customers face broadband and landline price hikes
Poor punters won't be affected, telecoms giant claims
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
prev story

Whitepapers

Best practices for enterprise data
Discussing how technology providers have innovated in order to solve new challenges, creating a new framework for enterprise data.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?