The sales of portable navigation devices are at an all time high. In 2009, more than forty million portable GPS devices were sold worldwide. The United States accounted for fifty-two percent of those sales with an average cost of two hundred and fifty dollars per unit. The wide availability of these devices has meant a significant increase in the number of GPS devices associated with criminal acts. In response to this, the community is faced with the challenge to identify techniques and tool sets specifically designed to examine GPS devices in a manner consistent with the best practices of handling digital evidence.
What is GPS Forensics: GPS forensics, also known as SatNav Forensics, is the reliable and repeatable process of acquiring, examining and analyzing GPS devices for evidence of a criminal act or information of interest.
Why GPS Forensics: The benefit of traditional tracking technology has long been recognized. The increasing consumer use of personal navigation devices now inherently offers investigators the same type of information contained in tracking devices and more. Evidentiary data can be gleaned from these devices to allow the recreation and tracing of the path taken before, during, and after a crime. Hybrid GPS devices equipped with a Bluetooth capability allow GPS devices to act as a handsfree device for mobile phones and therefore have the potential to contain much of the same data discovered during a mobile phone examination.
Depending on the manufacturer and model, GPS devices may contain some or all the following information:
- Track Logs
- Stored Location; Home, Office, etc…
- Security Location
- Recent Addresses
- Call Logs (Missed, Dialed, Received)
- Paired Device History
- Incoming/Out Going Text Msg
- Videos, Photos, Audio
GPS Forensics is a relatively new discipline within the fast paced world of Mobile Device Forensics. To meet this new challenge, GPSForensics.org was created. It has become the centerpoint and a key resource to operators in the field, forensics examiners in the lab and analysts for developing and discussing tools and techniques that are beneficial across disciplines within the community.