Phone evidence remotely wiped in police stations

iStock_000013261322SmallExpert recommends putting phones in a microwave to prevent RF signals from activating ‘kill switch’ function.  

Tablet and smartphone remote wipe functions have been used by criminals to wipe mobile devices that were seized by officers and secured in police stations.

BBC News has reported that Cambridgeshire, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Durham police have all found that data on stored handsets had been remotely ‘wiped’ before being accessed as part of criminal investigations.

Dorset police have also said six of the devices they had seized within one year from suspects held in custody had been cleaned of data while held in storage.

The technology, which was intended to combat mobile crime, was designed to allow owners to remove sensitive data from their phones if they are stolen.

The BBC report quotes a Mr Munro, who analyses hundreds of laptops, tablets, phones and other devices for corporate clients, who said: “When we seize a device for digital forensics, we put it immediately into a radio-frequency shielded bag, which prevents any signals from getting through.

“If we can’t get to the scene within an hour, we tell the client to pop it in a microwave oven.

“The microwave is reasonably effective as a shield against mobile or tablet signals – just don’t turn it on.”

You have been warned!

Mobile devices that can be wiped remotely include the following brands:

Apple iPhone

Thanks to iCloud, you can now locate and remotely erase any iPhone. While you still have the device, head to Settings > iCloud and turn on Find My iPhone if it isn’t already enabled.

Google Android

Android Lost adds remote find and wipe capability. In a corporate setting, IT managers deploying Android devices can enable native remote wipe capability by installing Google Apps Device Policy, although it can’t be added retroactively.

Microsoft Windows Phone

For any Windows Phone device, head to www.windowsphone.com on a desktop or laptop PC and sign in, then click My Phone. From here, you can locate the phone with GPS, erase all the data, lock the phone and display a message, or change your password.

BlackBerry OS

BlackBerry Protect, a free app that lets you find, lock, or wipe your BlackBerry from a remote location. Any BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) handset can be erased remotely via the Erase Data and Disable Handheld IT administration command over the wireless network.

Sources:

  1. Devices being remotely wiped in police custody, By Jane Wakefield, BBC News, October 10, 2014.
  2. How to Remotely Disable Your Lost or Stolen Phone, By Jamie Lendino, PC, April 12, 2012.

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2 Comments

  1. steve88 16th October 2014
  2. Andrew Withey 16th October 2014