Current and Future Trends in Mobile Device Forensics: A Survey



Contemporary mobile devices are the result of an evolution process where computational and networking capabilities have been continuously pushed so as to keep pace with the constantly growing workload requirements. This has allowed devices such as smartphone and tablets to perform increasingly complex tasks, up to the point of efficiently replacing traditional options such as desktop computers and notebooks. However, these devices are more prone to theft, to compromising or to exploitation for attacks and other malicious activity, mainly due to their portability and size. The need for investigation of the aforementioned incidents resulted in the creation of the Mobile Forensics (MF) discipline. MF, a sub-domain of Digital Forensics (DF) is specialized in extracting and processing evidence from mobile devices in such a way that attacking entities and actions are identified and traced. Beyond its primary research interest on accurate evidence acquisition from mobile devices, MF has recently expanded its scope to encompass the organized and advanced evidence representation and analysis of entities behavior. The current paper aims to present the research conducted within the MF ecosystem during the last six years. Moreover, it identifies the gaps and highlights the differences from past research directions. Lastly, it addresses challenges and open issues in the field.


Mobile Forensics, Digital Forensics, Mobile Cloud Forensics, Evidence Acquisition, Forensic Ontologies, Evidence Parsing, Digital Investigations


Mobile Forensics

Related Project

H2020 ATENA (Advanced Tools to assEss and mitigate the criticality of ICT compoNents and their dependencies over Critical InfrAstructures)


ACM Computing Surveys, Vol. 51, #3, pp. 46, May 2018

PDF File


Cited by

Year 2020 : 1 citations

 Dohyun Kim, Sangjin Lee, Study of identifying and managing the potential evidence for effective Android forensics, Forensic Science International: Digital Investigation, 2020, 200897, ISSN 2666-2817,

Year 2019 : 6 citations

 Kruger, Jaco-Louis, and Hein Venter. "State of the art in Digital Forensics for the Internet of Things." International Conference on Cyber Warfare and Security. Academic Conferences International Limited, 2019.

 S. Duarte, C. Paisner, A. Tian, J. Yuen, "Development of STC Corporate Mobile Application", Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Digital WPI, BSc project. Available at:

 Xiaolu Zhang, Kim-Kwang Raymond Choo, Nicole Lang Beebe, "How do I share my IoT forensic experience with the broader community? An automated knowledge sharing IoT forensic platform", IEEE Internet of Things Journal, 2019. DOI: 10.1109/JIOT.2019.2912118.

 Zhang X., Yuen T.T., Choo KK.R. (2020) Experiential Learning in Digital Forensics. In: Zhang X., Choo KK. (eds) Digital Forensic Education. Studies in Big Data, vol 61. Springer, Cham, 25 july 2019.

 Abdullahi Aminu Kazaure, Aman Jantan, Mohd Najwadi Yusoff, Aminu Maigari, Mohamad Khairi Ishak, Nor Rizuan Mar Noor, "Evidence Collection and Forensic Challenges in Cloud Environment", MACE Technical Journal, Vol.1(01), pp. 19-24, eISSN: 2710-6632, December 2019.

 Yan Jiang, Youwen Zhu, Jian Wang, Yong Xiang, Efficient authentication protocol with anonymity and key protection for mobile Internet users, Journal of Parallel and Distributed Computing, Volume 137, 2020, Pages 179-191, ISSN 0743-7315, DOI: 10.1016/j.jpdc.2019.11.010.

Year 2018 : 4 citations

 Ibrar Yaqoob, Ibrahim Abaker Targio Hashem, Arif Ahmed, S.M. Ahsan Kazmi, Choong Seon Hong, Internet of things forensics: Recent advances, taxonomy, requirements, and open challenges, Future Generation Computer Systems, 2018, ISSN 0167-739X,

 Li, C.-Y., Huang, C.-C., Lai, F., Lee, S.-L., Wu, J., "A Comprehensive Overview of Government Hacking Worldwide",
(2018) IEEE Access, 6, art. no. 8470931, pp. 55053-55073. DOI: 10.1109/ACCESS.2018.2871762

 Umair A., Nanda P., He X., Choo KK.R. (2018) User Relationship Classification of Facebook Messenger Mobile Data using WEKA. In: Au M. et al. (eds) Network and System Security. NSS 2018. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 11058. Springer, Cham. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-02744-5_25

 Atkinson, Jamiella. "Mobile Device Forensics: Overview, Challenges, and Guideline Developmental Opportunities." MsC thesis, Utica College, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2018. 13422253. Available at: