Project Reference: CS109

Student’s Name: Cavan Sutton

Project title: Pattern of Life: Best Source of Evidence from App Usage

Course Title: Computer Forensics

Supervisor’s Name: Richard Hale

Research and create a guide about generational smartphone usage and how this information could be useful in an investigation.

As of the year 2021, smartphones have become an integral part of the average British citizens daily routine. Succeeding the original iPhone, introduced to the world in 2007, individuals now have access to an array of options for which to make their ‘day-in, day-out’ companion – furthermore, many options for how they use this device, given the quantity of applications available to download. Currently there are over 250,000 applications on the Apple App Store (used on Apple hardware such as: iPhones, iPads, and iPods) and based upon the iPhone commercials aired in 2009 by Apple stating “There’s an app for that” to indicate there were apps for aid or accomplishment in any activity – it’s easy to see why the modern smartphone has become an integral part of daily tasks and hobbies. This smartphone usage extends to the routines of criminals and with current apps such as Snapchat (which automatically deletes messages between users) and WhatsApp (all messages being encrypted) making contact with other criminals easier than ever. During this project I was able to interview several anonymous Computer Forensic Analysts, all speaking on how much involvement mobile phones now have in a forensic investigation. And after a survey conducted of approximately 120 people, I gathered a strong basis of data to evidence certain smartphone applications being more popular with different demographics. I believe this information will be predominantly useful to many Computer Forensic Analysts, so created a condensed, neat guide for investigators to refer to when examining the applications in smartphones. The average person may not consider the ramifications of themselves and others being predictable and routine-like when using their mobile; this report will discuss the patterns people have and how their relationship with the device can produce insights into the owner – helping find evidence during an investigation.

My project will aid newer forensic investigators and provide evidence of specific apps used by certain age groups.