SIMCon

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SIMCon

SIMCon is a program that securely images all files on a GSM SIM card with a standard smart card reader. After imaging, the forensic investigator can then analyze the contents of the card. Specific information regarding stored numbers, call history, and text messages are available.

SIMCon's features:

  • Acquire all available files on a SIM card and store in an archive file
  • Analyze and interpret content of files
  • Recover deleted text messages stored on the card
  • Manage PIN and PUK codes
  • Compatible with SIM and USIM cards
  • Print reports of evidence
  • Secure file archive using hashing
  • Export items to popular spreadsheet programs
  • Supports international charsets


In the area of small scale digital devices, there are many applications available to forensically acquire the device to produce the evidence needed in the court of law. All GSM phones today have a subscriber identity module (SIM) to identify the phone onto the network. SimCon is an application to acquire all of the information from the SIM card. This paper will provide information about SIM cards, SimCon, and some of the advantages and disadvantages of the application.

The SIM provides secure storing of the key identifying a mobile phone service subscriber, but it also stores subscription information, preferences and text messages. Network state information, such as the current location area identity (LAI), is also stored on the card. When a handset is turned off and then back on, it will search for the LAI that it was in, rather than having to search all frequencies that the phone operates in. This saves time when trying to log on to the network. (Subscriber, 2006, para. 1)

In an investigation, information such as the LAI, phone numbers, recent calls, text messages, and pictures can all aid in incriminating the owner of the phone. Obtaining the evidence on the phone may make or break the case, creating an obvious need to acquire these devices.

By using SimCon and a smart card reader, all of the above information and more can be pulled off of the card without knowing the PIN or the PUK of the card. The PIN and the PUK are ways to keep the information on the card secure. They also can be used as a security feature on the phone, not allowing anyone to use a phone to access the SIM without knowing the codes.

SimCon is an application developed by Inside Out Forensics in Norway. It is designed for use by the law enforcement community, and it can be obtained free of charge by emailing SimCon and identifying the officers and unit. However, for anyone outside the law enforcement community, it is not free.

SimCon Developers at Inside Out Forensics state that some of SimCon’s key features are: its ability to read all available files on a SIM card and store in an archive file, the ability to analyze and interpret the content of files including text messages and stored numbers, to recover deleted text messages that are stored on the card but not readable on phones, to manage PIN and PUK codes, its compatibility with SIM and USIM cards, printing of reports that can be used as evidence based on user selection of items, secure file archive using hashing, the exportation of items to files that can be imported in popular spreadsheet programs, and the support of international char sets (Inside Out Forensics, 2006).

After discussing what a Sim card is, what the program SimCon is and does, an analysis of the programs’ capabilities is called for. SimCon makes the acquisition of data very easy, simply inserting the Sim card to the appropriate Sim card reader, and clicking acquire is all that is needed to start analyzing evidence. After the acquisition of the data is complete SimCon will show the user a screen with two halves.

On the left panel is the different data sectors of the Sim card that can either be checked on or off depending on what is needed. After choosing what data sectors are needed, the right panel will be populated with the selected data. Some of the most useful pieces of information that are shown are: the International Mobile Subscriber Identity number, every contacts name and number, and all SMS messages sent and received both stored and deleted.

SimCon also comes with two more handy features that are key to an investigation and in a court of law. The first is SimCons' feature that allows the printing of a report. SimCon will format and populate a report with the contents of the users’ choosing. This can list all the key pieces to an investigation and is an excellent piece of evidence to be used in a court of law. The second feature is the exportation of the acquired data. SimCon allows the exportation of all SMS messages and also of all contacts. When these exported files are opened in a program such as Microsoft Excel the data can be read, sorted, and analyzed in a format of the users design.

When SMS messages are exported SimCon automatically adds the following information about every message: file, item, status, service center, message type, number, time stamp, and text. When the contacts are exported SimCon automatically adds the following information about every contact: file, item, identifier, and number. For reference a report of an acquired Sim card is enclosed as well as a document that tells what information is added into an exported file at the end of this document.

In conclusion SimCon is a great digital forensics device because of its read-only features. SimCon in now way will ever write data to a Sim card, it was developed for one specific purpose and that is to read Sim cards. Due to that fact many law enforcement agencies use SimCon to their great benefit.


Links

Subscriber Identity Module. (2006, March 23). Retrieved March 28, 2006, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subscriber_Identity_Module

InsideOut Forensics. (2006, March 28). Retrieved March 28, 2006, from http://www.simcon.no/