As we head towards May 2021, the FORMOBILE project approaches its second anniversary. The 3-year, EU-funded initiative has bold ambitions to create an end-to-end forensic investigation chain for mobile devices. Due to the nature of the ambitious goal, there is much work required upfront to lay the foundations for the final outputs. Naturally, we can expect the third year of the initiative to provide the lion’s share of results. However, the progress to date is both reassuring and encouraging.
The project has three main objectives –
- Tools – Advanced, innovative tools and software for the successful acquisition, recovery, analysis and visualisation of data.
- Standard – ‘Phone to Court’: A best practice, rights-based standardised process for the mobile phone forensic chain. (Read more)
- Training – Providing LEAs with the necessary training to effectively use the new tools and successfully follow the standardised procedures. (Read more)
To date, much of the communication from the project has centred around the standard and the training. However, work packages 4-6 are working hard in the background, and it is a pleasure to share the first tangible result connected to these efforts with MSAB’s recent XAMN 6.0 release.
The new version of XAMN is exciting for FORMOBILE as it introduces the first technical results of the project and provides a platform on which future developments will sit.
MSAB, the Swedish company recognised within the forensic domain as a market leader, is an integral partner in the FORMOBILE project. As leaders of work package 6; they dedicate energy to the analysis process of mobile data and overcoming the challenges related to the sheer mass of data on modern mobile phones.
As well as employing experts and having enormous experience in dealing with mobile phone forensics, MSAB provides a vital link in the research and innovation chain – they offer a direct route to market.
Dr Christian Hummert, the Project Coordinator of the FORMOBILE project, saw the route to market as a critical advantage from the early stages of creating the original proposal for funding.
For the EU to be effective in recovering, decoding and analysing mobile phone data – it is imperative the EU has technology providers that adhere to EU law and maintain citizens’ fundamental rights while empowering LEAs to fight crime and help provide justice.
MSAB can transition the research and innovation efforts directly to market with tools used by law enforcement across the EU. This is precisely the case with the new release of XAMN 6.0.
Using XAMN, LEAs can rapidly detect suspicious data and speed up operations by quickly identifying influential actors and reducing noise by focusing on the relevant signals and communications within a case.
As mentioned, the WP6 team is working hard to improve the analysis of extracted mobile phone data, and their efforts are entwined in the latest edition. With the introduction of XAMN Horizon – a new enhanced “Connection view” - officers can immediately filter the relevant persons in a case and visualise the relationships between different digital personas.
This is a key step in a case as it enables LEAs to assess which identifiers are important to an individual and which are connected in a secondary manner. Consider the difficulty of proving whether a suspect used a shared landline telephone to make contact with a victim when that phone is accessible by multiple people. Compared to proving a suspect used their unique WhatsApp’s profile on their personal mobile device to make contact.
As referenced, May 2021 marks the beginning of the final year of FORMOBILE, and it is rewarding that the labours of the project can already be realised by LEAs across Europe using the XAMN software.
Likewise, it provides a glimpse of future benefits that will be available after existing tools are further enriched and other outputs of the project are available in LEAs’ toolboxes.
If you are interested in the outcomes of FORMOBILE and what to stay informed of the latest results - please register as a stakeholder to be kept updated.