Would Data be Recoverable From Malaysian Flight 370 Passenger’s Mobile Devices?

If Malaysian flight 370 is ever recovered, could draft text messages, videos, and other electronically stored information retrieved from passenger’s mobile phones and other digital devices help tell the story of the doomed airliner’s fate? When CNN decided to examine this question during today’s airing of Erin Burnett’s “UpFront”  program, they asked for insight from the experts at Chicago-based computer forensics firm, 4Discovery.

To prepare for the segment, a CNN film crew and reporter Ted Rowlands visited 4Discovery’s computer forensics lab in Chicago this week where 4Discovery Partner, and co-founder, Chad Gough, provided answers to questions and a demo of the firm’s sophisticated mobile device forensics tools.  “Absolutely, this data is recoverable,” according to Gough.  “The key is locating the devices and handling them properly by making sure, for example, that any recovered phones remain in a water-based solution that preserves the device’s chips and removes mineral deposits,” Gough added.  “Even if the phone is destroyed, valuable information can be forensically recovered from the devices.”

What could be found?  Draft text messages that were not able to be transmitted, emails, videos and photos taken by passengers in the moments leading up to the ill-fated flight’s disappearance, according to Gough.

So, despite the significant level of technology on board the doomed 777, and those now famous and elusive “pings” transmitted by the aircraft to some of the most powerful satellites in the world, it is the data forensically recovered from passengers’ mobile phones that could provide the most revealing clues in recreating the aircraft’s mysterious final hours.

“The digital evidence recovered from mobile devices is playing an increasingly critical role in a wide variety of cases today,” added Jeffrey Hartman, 4Discovery’s co-founder and Partner.  “Whether it is a deleted text message from a murder suspect’s cell phone, or a hacker stealing Intellectual Property via an insecure mobile device, our clients are asking us to help them recover this valuable data on a daily basis, and in many cases, this evidence simply does not exist anywhere else.  We anticipated this trend, and have invested heavily in the technology, expertise, and training that enables us to deliver this highly valuable service to our clients, and this provides us with a distinct competitive advantage in the market.”

To see the full CNN segment, click HERE.