Tuesday, 4 August 2020

GPS Evidence For Investigation

Updated: March 29, 2014 2:28 pm

There are four main categories of GPS Devices or Portable Navigation Devices—Automotive, Aviation, Maritime, and Handheld—the most popular being automotive devices

GPS evidence has played a major role in several high profile cases ranging from terrorism to homicide to kidnapping. Most of the time as investigators, we tend to focus on collecting evidence as part of criminal investigations, however GPS evidence can play a significant role in many other types of investigations such as accident reconstruction and search and rescue cases.

There are four main categories of GPS Devices or Portable Navigation Devices—Automotive, Aviation, Maritime, and Handheld—the most popular being automotive devices. The handheld category includes a range of devices used for hiking, biking, geocaching, fitness, golf, etc.

There are four basic types of devices in the portable navigation marketplace; simple, smart, hybrid, and connected. Smart devices are the most proliferated devices as they are easily accessible to consumers at mainstream retail outlets.

Trackpoints are the electronic breadcrumb trail that tells an investigator exactly where and when the device was in a specific location. With trackpoints, criminal acts can be pinpointed down to almost the exact second a crime was committed. Almost all GPS devices collect trackpoints but even without trackpoints, GPS devices still hold a significant amount of data. Waypoints and routes will show the location to which the user intended to navigate or has navigated and a timestamp when the location was put into the device. Hybrid devices that have been connected to a mobile phone will contain much of the same information that an investigator would find on a mobile phone: call logs, SMS messages, and contacts. These can prove very valuable, particularly when paired with a track log. The call logs and track logs allow an investigator to see what time a phone call was made and from what location.

Because some of these devices are USB mass storage devices, any type of file could be found. Pictures, videos, documents, password files, encrypted containers, anything that can be stored on a computer can be stored on a USB mass storage GPS device. Connected devices add the complexity of having online content associated with them. Web history like Google searches, white pages lookup, etc. can all be critical information when assembling details for an investigation.

By Arun Pandey

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