Social Media and Cell Phone Forensics

Social media and cell phone forensics can play an important role in thwarting criminal activity. Check out this conversation between Cyber Forensic Expert Lee Neubecker and Data Diva, Debbie Reynolds. You will be so much smarter afterwards!

Snap Chat, Twitter, Facebook: Social Media and the Importance of Cell Phone Forensics

Lee Neubecker and Debbie Reynolds, the Data Diva, discuss the role of law enforcement in capturing social media posts when trying to thwart the bad guys coordinating a riot or the more recent looting incidents in Chicago. During this difficult time in our nation, what is the role that cell phone forensics should take? Did you know that Apple phones have the ability to automatically shut down when stolen and have a beacon that will detect the location of the phone making it easy for law enforcement to come knocking on the thief’s door? Check out this video to learn more about the role of social media and cell phone forensics.

Transcripts of Video Follows

Lee Neubecker (LN): Hi, it’s Lee Neubecker, and I have Debbie Reynolds back on the show, Debbie thanks for being on remotely.

Debbie Reynolds (DR): Thank you for having me.

LN: So I asked you to come on so that we could talk a little bit about some of the recent lootings that have happened in Chicago and other areas across the country. And what could be happening, as it relates to cell phone forensics and how law enforcement can be using that to get to the bottom of how these coordinated attacks are being planned and who might be involved.

DR: Most of what I know about this is basically what you told me so, why don’t you just sort of share what your experience has been so far in the current environment, and then we can talk from there?

LN: Sure. Well, right now, I know that some of the looters that were apprehended had cell phones on them. We don’t know exactly how the information is being used by law enforcement, but technically, an example of things that could happen could include, doing forensics on the cell phone, identifying Snapchat handles they have communicated with, looking at text messages, looking for Twitter accounts and postings. And potentially, what I saw happening during the last week, at least in one instance, there was a post made to Twitter by a user that made a reference to doing a gig at Urban Outfitters on the West Side, and roughly a few hours after, that post went out on Twitter, referencing Urban Outfitters, Nike’s, Liquor and other things. Around four hours after that, looting that went on at that store, so that handle that posted and anyone else that reacted to that post could certainly have been alerted to the potential for mass looting in a coordinated way via social media.

DR: Yeah, I think even though the police do have capabilities to do that type of tracking and tracing, they they do heat maps of certain things. The problem is that these incidents, if they are coordinated, they happen pretty quickly so it’s sort of hard for them to kind of preempt it. But as you said, always, they have capabilities, right? To do anything with like cell phones that they capture, but they also have capabilities to do things like geofencing about who was in the area at certain time. So, a lot of what they’re doing is not necessarily preemptive or pre-crime is more of, if something is happening or has happened, they can go back and try to backtrack or trace or… If there are people on the scene they can apprehend whoever is there that’s doing whatever and they sort of build it out from there, right?

LN: Yeah, but just the other day, someone was captured and apprehended in… They got caught because they were posting their raid via social media, and they had a live view of them going to bomb, they were threatening to bomb the place and looted, taking cash registers and the stuff was, this someone that was not from Chicago, I think from downstate, somewhere that came in and came in with a goal to create problems and had a past history of that, but the person had the audacity to post it to Facebook, and the FBI just busted them and they’re indicted now.

DR: I don’t know why people share such things on social media. Because yeah, they do track and trace that. But, a lot of the things especially as I saw, it seemed like a lot of stores that have things like mobile phones have been attacked. And as you know those things are pretty easy to trace back. So I don’t know how far people–

LN: Apple had LoJack, in all their phones at the retail store, and so people who took those phones likely those phones likely got located but-

DR: Oh yeah, definately.

LN: I don’t know that that’s happening at the the cheap cell phone stores, the burner phones.

DR: Well, yeah, those are… No, I mean, they probably… If anything, obviously may have serial numbers and stuff like that but, once you… Whether it’s broken, or people change sims or whatever, it’s harder to track that stuff down. But yeah, the Apple phones, yes. They wouldn’t have very much problem. I think as I heard, I read that what Apple had done is for all the phones that were stolen from them, they were able to lock those down. And then it had a screen on there so that you actually couldn’t use it. So, that’s what I heard was happening with Apple.

LN: Yeah, well, they also have the ability to beacon out and send GPS location so-

DR: Oh, absolutely.

LN: People who are buying stolen Apple phones might find someone knocking on their door, law enforcement.

DR: Yeah, it’s probably not a good idea to buy one off the street at this point. So yeah.

LN: Yeah. Well, any thoughts on your concerns if the privacy issues that might relate to mere surveillance on people and tracking social media posts and actually getting in and subpoenaing phone numbers that were taxed to help try to prevent looting from happening?

DR: Well, okay. I guess that’s a couple of different things rolled up into one. So, obviously I’m concerned with mass surveillance, especially if it is capturing information not accurately or targeting people who may not have even been involved. So for example, a cell phone can’t tell like let’s say for instance, you’re standing at a corner and I’m at the stoplight. It says we’re next each other, but we’re not together. So, a cell phone tracking can’t really tell that so eury people who aren’t involved, who are innocent, who are especially in this regard, peacefully protesting, having them be adjacent to other people doesn’t mean that they were involved so-

LN: Lets just say though, for instance, that they found that there was a string of businesses hit, the Foot Locker, then Denny’s Liquor, CVS and Walgreens.

DR: Yeah.

LN: There were a group of 20 people that all pinged off the four cell phone towers at the same times, and we’re in close proximity to that and a few other people were ID’d, would that be enough to justify surveillance on people where there were four cell phone towers in common across a range that put them all in the vicinity of where looting took place?

DR: I’m not sure if it would justify surveillance, so to speak, but I think that if they have other evidence, it may help them target those people more closely but, in terms of sweeping people up in surveillance exercise, I don’t think that’s going to happen unless they have additional information. So, let’s say they have information just like you said, like, okay, these people are in the vicinity and then they posted a picture on Facebook with some loot gear that they got, that would be enough, I think, to justify surveillance but just the fact, surrounding the vicinity, that’s probably not enough to go on, I don’t think.

LN: I appreciate your opinions and thoughts on this. It’s a difficult time right now and hopefully we’ll have stability and we’ll have people held accountable on all fronts, not just the leaders.

DR: Yep, I agree.

LN: Yeah, thanks Debbie.

DR: You’re welcome.

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Top Places in Illinois That Reported Accelerating COVID-19 Weekly Growth

Enigma Forensics has been busy tracking week to week COVID-19 cases in each Illinois county. We are thankful of our Medical Professionals. Thank you to everyone for all you’ve done to reduce the spread!

Illinois as a state has been trending in the right direction. Only 8 counties reported cases in excess of zero the week before last week and more than 20 cases the last week show weekly growth. These counties should continue to ramp up additional testing availability and contact tracing to keep the state on track as a whole. 9 counties showed a reduction in a week over week reported cases. Click through on the County Name to see the time series chart depicting the daily counts and 7 days trended average.

Download COVID-19 Daily Confirmed Positive Cases

The data depicted above was obtained from the John Hopkins GitHub Repository.

Growth of the outbreak can be seen where the daily blue COVID-19 confirmed cases count exceeds the 7 day trailing daily orange average trend line.

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COVID-Confirmed Positive Cases Week over Week Comparison

Counties with zero cases the week before last week were excluded.

CountyWeek Before Last Week
Total Cases
Last Week
Total Cases
Week Over
Week Percentage Growth
Cass439875.00%
Stephenson1124118.18%
Rock Island414919.51%
Kane25429415.75%
Will21123712.32%
Lake2682939.33%
Madison90911.11%
Cook227322800.31%
Adams0220.00%
Kankakee6259-4.84%
Kendall3431-8.82%
St. Clair166151-9.04%
Winnebago149135-9.40%
Champaign5447-12.96%
DuPage291234-19.59%
DeKalb3928-28.21%
McHenry9665-32.29%
Peoria6342-33.33%
This chart is based on data obtained daily from the Illinois Department of Public Health Website. The source daily counts are available at: https://enigmaforensics.com/covid-19/us/state/Illinois_Cases_Delta_By_Date.csv

Top Zip Codes in Illinois Reporting Week over Week Growth
(COVID-19 Confirmed Cases)

Zip CodeCityWeek Before Last WeekLast WeekWeekly Growth RatePeople / Square MilePopulation
60088Great Lakes634467%6,78015,761
62691Virginia630400%222,426
60076Skokie725257%6,24133,415
60624Chicago – West Garfield Park620233%10,78038,105
60169Hoffman Estates825213%4,40633,847
60706Harwood Heights / Norridge1031210%7,82223,134
61265Moline721200%2,37945,099
60462Orland Park720186%2,46938,723
60089Buffalo Grove1233175%4,25941,533
60104Belwood922144%8,08819,038
Data captured from IDPH website daily. Data as of 6/24/20.

Great Lakes Naval Station is leading as the top Zip code in Illinois experiencing the highest week over week growth rate of new COVID-19 confirmed cases. Click the Zip Code to view the daily and weekly average trends of new cases. In the City of Chicago, West Garfield Park is the hot zone where cases shot up 233% over the previous week.

COVID-19 Cases in Cook County Are Abating

Wearing a Mask Could Save Your Life and Others

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker instituted that face masks be worn while inside facilities open to the public beginning on May 1st, 2020. Just a little over 2 weeks later, new cases of COVID-19 plummeted and began a downward descent. Proving that wearing masks helps stop the spread of the Coronavirus / COVID-19.

The other US States that have failed to require a mask to be worn when entering public facilities are experiencing consistent growth of the virus. The data proves that after instituting a mask requirement, roughly 14 days later, cases begin to abate or descent.

Daily Confirmed Positive COVID-19 Cases in Cook County Illinois

Daily Deaths from COVID-19 in Cook County Illinois

Daily Confirmed Positive COVID-19 Cases in Tulsa Oklahoma

Who’s Who Legal Investigations 2020

We are proud to announce Lee Neubecker was once again nominated by his peers as one of the world’s leading practitioners in the Digital Forensic Expert field. Congratulations Lee!

Congratulations Lee Neubecker!

Enigma Forensic’s President and CEO Lee Neubecker was nominated by his peers as one of the world’s leading practitioners in the field of Digital Forensic Experts and is listed in Who’s Who Legal Investigations 2020 publication as such.

Since 1996 Who’s Who Legal has identified the foremost legal practitioners and consulting experts in business law and investigations based upon comprehensive, independent research.

Who’s Who Legal Investigations publications said, Lee Neubecker, is a “great expert” who receives widespread plaudits from sources who note he is “one of the most visible people in the field”.

Nominees have been selected based on comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practitioners worldwide.

Top Illinois Zip Codes Where COVID-19 Outbreaks Continue

Chicago has entered Phase 3 of the Re-Opening of Chicago Plan. Are you wondering where the recent hot pockets are located? Check out our COVID-19 Statistics to see where the infection continues to grow.

The following top Illinois Zip Codes that are largely Hispanic are continuing to climb with COVID-19 outbreaks. This data is based on the daily changes in total reported confirmed COVID-19 cases by Zip Code obtained from the Illinois Department of Public Health statistics page. The reported counts include data from 6/12/20, 6/13/20 and 6/14/20. These are the top Zip Codes in Illinois where 15 or more cases have been reported between last Friday and last Sunday.

Of those identified, Hispanic majority zipcodes account for 50%+ of the remaining hot pockets where COVID-19 infections continue to grow. Majority White Zip codes follow with 7 out of 26, followed by Black Majority Zip Codes at 6 out of 26 Zip Codes.

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Small Business and Cybersecurity Attacks

Small businesses are getting hit hard. Starting with government directed closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic and now the most recent looting and protestor damage. Small businesses are more vulnerable than ever. If you own a small business be on the lookout for cybersecurity threats and learn more on how to protect your business.

Small Businesses must on the lookout for cybersecurity threats!

Small businesses have been besieged on all fronts. First, out of left field they were struck by COVID-19 and the loss of business. Then knocked down by the most recent violent protests. All these hits create multiple vulnerabilities to yet another threat; cybersecurity attacks. Now more than ever, small businesses need to be aware of an impending cybersecurity breach. Enigma Forensics focuses on cybersecurity and would like to share what are the most common cybersecurity threats and how small businesses can protect themselves.

What are the most common security threats?

There are three common cybersecurity threats each small business owner must be aware of; Malware, viruses, and phising. Malware is an umbrella name for a software designed to attack and destroy computers, servers, and to obtain client information. Malware can be engineered in many different malicious ways. Viruses are designed as a computer program that replicates itself and inserts code into your system to modify existing programs. It basically creates havoc in your system and is extremely difficult to delete. Phising is inserted by a clicking on or opening an email that presents itself as a legitimate email. It sparks curiosity and plays on the simplest of emotions.

What are some easy tips for small businesses to protect themselves?

Enigma Forensics encourages everyone to purchase cybersecurity insurance. This can help defer costs if you are attacked. We definitely suggest to hire a professional to assess your system and identify risks. Another less costly tip is to change your passwords. Make them as difficult and unique as possible and don’t store them on your systems. Be sure to include mobile device security if you or your employees check emails on mobile devices. Train your employees to recognize cybersecurity threats and how to avoid and report them.

Enigma Forensics related articles

See the link below for The Department of Homeland Security guide

https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/CSD%202018%20Tech_Guide_Web%20Version_508.pdf

Cell Phone Forensics Key to Ending Looting

How can we put an end to this protest? Cell phone forensics is the key to finding out who is organizing violent protests and looting by checking social media sites. It’s that simple!

Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown recognizes social media contributed to the rise in looting

Is Cell Phone Forensics the key to ending the looting? Chicago is reeling back from the third day of unrest and violent protest. Not only are we healing from a global pandemic we are now faced with the threat of violence in all of our neighborhoods. On Monday, we witnessed the third day of violent protest. It was reported that law enforcement arrested approximately 699 people and sadly, 2 people who were shot and killed in Cicero. Feelings of anger, frustration and despair are common threads that bind all of us. The question on everyone’s mind is when is all this going to stop? The Chicago Police department is dealing with a great deal; protecting the neighborhoods and at the same charged with stopping violence. The same violence that was started by a deadly police action.

Many have heard on mobile scanners that hundreds of people driving in caravans are traveling into the city from outside Chicago. Some believe these caravans are organized on social media and are encouraging violent protest and looting. Forensic technology can stop this type of organized violent protest. Once a bad actor has been apprehended, law enforcement needs to perform remote cell phone forensic analytics to discover social media posts, connect friends and followers to thwart passing of information. This is a new age of technology and our police department needs to be able to trace violent networks of people to respond in real time as to prevent personal attacks an property damage.

Enigma Forensics is an expert cyber forensic company that offers forensic imaging of cell phone, laptop and other electronic devices. We are able to analyze the electronic footprint left behind and provide detailed tracing to assist in litigation.

More about expert technology and cell phone forensics

Mobile Device Investigation Training

https://www.fletc.gov/-program/mobile-device-investigations-program

Chicago Police Department Learn about Real Technology Behind Crime Solving Efforts