Smartphone forensics experts can retrieve just about anything from any phone. Police will often seize and analyze phones for evidence of things such as indecent photos and videos, what calls were placed when and to whom, browser history, calendar events and explanations of a suicide or murder.
All of that can be uncovered whether or not a user deleted it from their phone. "It makes it much, much harder, but wiping a phone doesn't always mean you can't get the data," said Courtney Lancaster, forensic analyst with IT consulting company TCS, at the CTIA wireless industry trade show in Las Vegas.
Forensic analysts have dozens of tools that allow them to access many layers of data on a device.
A so-called "physical" analysis can typically retrieve deleted information that is hidden deep within a smartphone's memory. When a photo is saved, for example, the device's operating system will typically store variations of that image in several different locations -- a thumbnail view may still be available even if the original isn't. Read more >>