WAMBUGU: Mobile phone forensic critical in busting crime - Daily Nation

Mobile phone forensic critical in busting crime

Sunday September 30 2018

Digital forensics

Digital forensics requires edge-of-envelope expertise to collect authentic evidence. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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A wave of unresolved murders, unending cases of corruption and incidents of disturbing domestic violence form a common menu of headline news in the local media. Murders and violence leave behind distraught families.

The cult of corruption confines Kenyans to miserable lives. Investigative agencies face a daunting task going down convoluted rabbit holes hunting for evidence. The country should use every arrow in its quiver to nab and punish the perpetrators.

Here is how. The victims, assailants and accomplices have troves of crucial digital data on their mobile phones and their other digital devices.

Some of that data may include recorded conversations, digital pictures, mobile phone texts and emails, phone number lists and digital video recordings — data that can offer crucial leads.

These data are honeytraps which investigators need to carefully study as they piece together their case.

These data may just be what the justice system may be looking for to connect the dots and build a strong case.


Digital forensic experts gather digital evidence for legal and other purposes. They ensure evidence is saved and stored to prevent deletion or damage.

Erasing mobile phone data to conceal crucial information is like harvesting water in a sack — a futile attempt.

Extraction and recovery of deleted mobile phone files is a prominent part of a digital forensic expert’s job description.

Nearly every adult in Kenya has at least one registered mobile phone line. That line is used for transacting business and for social connections.

The phone is carried around, thereby capturing information about where we are and at what time.

Why then does it take too long to resolve the long list of killings in the country? How difficult is it to investigate who was bribed in the sugar-with-mercury saga?

Don’t officers who put their hands in the NYS cookie jar have phones and emails laced with essential evidence?


Digital forensics requires edge-of-envelope expertise to collect authentic evidence.

Inability to manage evidence professionally would compromise both integrity and authenticity of the evidence; the two important ingredients that can make or break a case

Integrity is ensuring that the act of seizing and acquiring digital data does not modify the evidence.

Authenticity is the ability to confirm the integrity of information; that the evidence presented has not been altered.


Documenting the chain of custody from the crime scene, through analysis and, ultimately, to the court, is important to establish the authenticity of evidence.

But, digital evidence is not always meant for prosecutorial purposes. It is part of intelligence gathering that can be used to stop crimes before they happen.

In a country webbed with an extensive mobile phone coverage which helps collect tons of data, digital forensic tools are our best allies to uncover crimes and punish perpetrators.

The writer is an informatics specialist. Email: [email protected] @samwambugu2