Cell tech to bolster crime war

But criminals beware.

A tiny piece of hardware built into a cellphone, coupled with technology new to South Africa, could be your undoing.

Technology allowing the analysis of your mobile device’s memory chip, which holds the key to everything you do with your device – whether you make or receive a call, send a message, download information, move from one area to another or even pick it up, is now available in South Africa.

Cyanre: The Forensic Lab, a Durban-based cyber investigation company with the help of a US based firm, could help police crack some of the country’s most difficult criminal cases.

In the past, if a cellphone or computer tablet was blocked, damaged or crashed, the only way data could be retrieved was via a SIM card.

Everything else would have been lost.

Danny Myburg, Cyanre’s managing director, said the technology was known as “chip-off”.

“Up until now the state and police, along with us, were unable to investigate cellphones or computer tablets that had crashed, been submerged in water or locked.”

He said the technology was a force multiplier for police investigations.

Rudolph Zinn, a Unisa criminologist, said the technology had the potential to revolutionise the way police conducted investigations.

“Not only will it give access to data [messages] as far as SMSes are concerned, it will also allow access to information such as the phone’s location at a particular time as it can access information such as the device’s recorded GPS position.”

But, warns Myburg, do not expect assistance if you suspect your partner of infidelity.

“In terms of a private person seeking information on their spouse’s phone, we need the phone owner’s permission to access the data,” he said.