by John Burchfield
When a text message has been deleted from a mobile device, the common misconception is that there is no way to get it back. However, it is possible to recover deleted information in most new smartphones. When a text message is deleted, it is actually just being stored elsewhere to free up space.
At DSi, we are tasked with many projects that require our forensics team to collect data, including emails, photos and text messages, from mobile devices.
With numerous software and hardware solutions, like Cellebrite, forensic analysts have access to many layers of data on a mobile device. With time and multiple layers of software and processes, we are able to uncover a phone’s file system bit by bit. Our forensics team can even clone a BlackBerry device to see the phone exactly the same way the user sees his or her phone.
You don’t have to be a forensic analyst to recover deleted texts. Here are some tips for uncovering them on your own iPhone and Android devices:
- Service Provider: Speed is of upmost importance when attempting to recover deleted texts. Start by contacting your service provider, who should keep a record of your text messages for a short period of time, about 30 days.
- Computer Backups: Depending on how often you back up your smartphone on your computer and how the back up is set up, you may be able to restore your text messages from your iCloud or iTunes account with iPhones.
- Third-Party App/Program: There are a few reputable third-party apps and programs that may be able to help you recover deleted texts as a last resort, but there are no guarantees. Tenorshare iPhone Data Recovery and WonderShare Dr.Fone are popular apps for iOS. For Android, you can try the Android Data Recovery tool that can be downloaded to your computer.
As cell phones become more universal, they will become more important in forensic and legal investigations. We look forward to keeping up with the new technologies that are being developed to make these processes easier and more successful.