I recall back in the 80s…..

That’s 1980’s mind you, the first “mobile phone” I had for work was the size of a shoe box and weighed almost five pounds.  The footprint of the “mobile” phone was similar to that of an old style house phone.

Smartphones have evolved from the 80’s.

Today, the smartphone is taking over usage that we typically performed on the computer.  Additionally, confidential documents and personal information that would normally be stored on the computer, or secured in hard copy, are now mobile with us and accessible at a moment’s notice. Today’s fast paced world requires us to react quickly or be left behind. Oh, how I wish sometimes to live in the simpler times of “Happy Days” 1950’s.

Tim Cook, Apple CEO, recently reminded us that we carry more personal information on our phones than we keep at home.  Think about that for a minute.  All the text messages, email and apps holding personal information loaded on your phone….and you think losing your wallet is a hassle?

The Power of the Plug-In

The evolution and acceptance of application “plug-ins” that are now commonplace with software, websites and smart device operating systems, have allowed for exponential growth in the features and usability of these devices and systems. Our pocket technology is quickly outpacing the features previously provided by the personal computer by distributing the development and creativeness of smartphone plug-in products to a community of 3rd party application programmers.

The range of accessibility, demographics, and immediate access to “stuff” are the key driving forces.  No longer do we wait to get to a PC to access something.  The computer now resides in our pocket.

Most product and service vendors have adopted the creation of mobile apps that run on smart devices, making it easier for us to access their wares.  These features will only become more enhanced with smart device applications and plug-ins, distancing our need for the PC even more.  Case in point, I’m catching up on HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” on my iPhone (while allowing text, email and my LinkedIn updates to stream in) while I write this blog……shhhhhh.

Typos, Fat-fingers and Autonomous Apps

So why not write this on my iPhone?  Mainly footprint and current limitations with smartphone application features.  The Samsung DEX smartphone docking station offers a “PC-like experience” but it still falls short for true computing.  This won’t be for long though.  Game over for the PC once we have a reliable and usable way of keyboarding and apps that have matured to be true multitasking (in my opinion, of course).

Our digital forensics practice here at IT Acceleration is now receiving more requests for smartphone forensics than in the past, due in part to the legal community recognizing the shift in smartphone usage.  Aside from texting/chatting, phone calls and voicemails, GPS location data, and web browsing history that the PC may not provide for, there are apps running in the phone that the PC does not have installed.  Smartphones really are separate and apart from the PC when it comes to e-discovery and investigative needs.

Encryption

Great for us as users and companies – not so much as digital forensic investigators. Apple has instituted a way to encrypt iPhone backups, via iTunes, that is not readily apparent to every user and if this password is lost (not the passcode you use to gain access to the device, but a separate password) then all backups, including forensic images, will be inaccessible.  This hidden little gem has created a bit of a fuss lately as users were unaware this was selected, thus requiring a password to decrypt.  But on the user front, I will be hard pressed to use anything but an iPhone with Apple’s stance on user privacy.

Smaller is Better

The future of smartphones will lead us into more techo coolness as cameras increase resolution, videos are enhanced, the footprint becomes slimmer, and futuristic features become available.  The younger generation’s need for instant access and their savvy know-how (with the 18-44 age bracket at 80% saturation rate) will continue to push the envelope of wanting more, faster, now!!!  In my effort towards constant “hip-ness”, here is an article in Vogue that speaks about the smartphone replacing the wallet and what to expect moving forward.

In closing, please protect your data on both computers and smartphones via backups and research how and when to use encryption. Don’t forget to secure your passwords. The Wild Wild West of the internet is only getting wilder each day.

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