Offenders in the UK are wiping smartphones and tablets seized by the police remotely using software. Once wiped, the devices don’t remain useful for the country’s law enforcement department as they cannot be used as evidence in criminal cases anymore.
The police departments in counties such as Dorset, Nottingham, Derbyshire, Durham and Cambridgeshire have admitted that many devices confiscated by them have been wiped remotely of all their data in order to ensure that they cannot be produced in court as evidence.
The worst affected county, however, is Dorset; it has experienced as many as six occurrences of data wiping in a span of one year. The police forces in Dorset have struggled a lot to understand that they are unable to think clearly and find out the procedures criminals are adopting for committing such an offence.
A spokesperson of Dorset police, when talking to the media, said that the county has had six incidents of remote data wiping, but they (the police) have still not found out the procedure the offenders adopted for wiping devices. He added that at times the police seize mobile devices from arrested people, but don’t take them away from their owners. The spokesperson also informed that as the police department never keeps records of such seizes, at the moment none from the department knows the particulars of the six cases mentioned above.
Confirmation about remote wiping of a device has also been obtained from the Derbyshire police. The wiped device was seized to be produced in court as evidence against a person taken in custody after being accused of romance fraud. The good news here is that this action of the offender didn’t have any impact on the investigation procedure, and the arrested individual was convicted.
The police forces in Cleveland was also once left puzzled by a phone; the police of this part of the UK had to admit that they were not sure whether the wiping job was done before the law enforcement officials confiscated the device or the criminals wiped the device remotely after it was seized. No information is still available that might put lights on effects of the incident on the investigation process; this is because the police had no idea about the kind of content the phone carried.
Police in Nottingham, Durham and Cambridgeshire have all come across one case of remote data wiping each. It is believed that the criminals get the opportunity of wiping the seized mobile devices remotely primarily when the police are deciding against turning the power off as the device still has signal. This possibility has been confirmed by Ken Munro, who works as a digital forensic expert at Pen Test Partners.
So, what kind of tools the criminals are using for wiping mobile device data remotely? The easiest way of wiping Google Android and Apple iOS devices remotely is by using services such as WheresMyDroid and Find My Device. For these services to be functional, you will only need to make sure that the device’s battery has power and you have access to an internet connection. This makes it clear that the offenders didn’t need to put in much effort for wiping the seized devices remotely.