Strengths: Solid mobile device forensic tool with lots of devices covered and everything you need for device seizures in the field. Solid Paraben pedigree.
Weaknesses: None that we found beyond the pricing, which could limit the ability for smaller organisations to use this tool.
Verdict: For a simple, well thought-out and executed mobile device forensics tool this one is at the top of the heap. Its capabilities are narrow and very deep. It does one thing – mobile device forensics – and it does that extremely well. We make the Paraben DS our Best Buy.
We always have liked Paraben. They were one of, if not the, pioneer in mobile device forensics long before we called it that. This new offering. DS (Device Seizure), is pretty slick. It comes with a nice little MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) carrying case and is pretty much ready for action immediately. After you install the software on your lab computer you can take the MOLLE case into the field to perform extractions.
The tool was user friendly. We were examining mobile phones in our lab in 10 minutes from setup to acquiring phone data. After acquisition of phone data there are several reports that you can generate. The reports are complete and the report generator flexible, allowing for the addition of copies of evidence, such as graphics and documents, emails, chats, test messages, etc., for illustrative purposes. Your reports can be developed as your case develops because it is easy to add new evidence. Meanwhile, the product has all of the expected chain of custody protections necessary in a legal environment.
The way the latest version of DS is set up there should be no difficulty matching mobile forensic tasks to the appropriate staff on your team. From the less well-trained personnel to the full forensic examiner, this tool will support them all at an appropriate level. The field case is equipped with such accessories as a battery for the mobile device that your field examiner finds with a dead battery. Of course there is a cable kit included, but it contains only the most common connectors. There also is a collection of the most commonly used power cables. So, in just about any mobile device seizure scenario in which you are likely to find yourself, you will have the tools you need.
Along with the DS software, Paraben has supplied a reader. You can distribute this under the product licence to as many people as necessary without extra cost. This allows several team members to probe for analysis - or their parts of an analysis - without requiring multiple copies of the DS software. There also is a link analysis tool provided at no additional cost. Being able to spot non-obvious relationships is a huge plus, especially in mobile device forensics.
DS supports over 26,000 devices and has some nice capabilities for bypassing login PINs. From smartwatches to tablets and GPS devices - along with the usual mobile phones - we didn't see a single type of mobile device not covered. Extractions, always the diciest part of mobile device forensics, is more solid than we've seen in the past, from Paraben or other vendors.
In short, this is Paraben at its best. However, this is a rather pricey tool. Nice as it is, the price could put it out of reach for smaller organisations, especially those whose budgets allowed only a media forensics tool. If that tool does mobile devices as well as computer disks, the customer may opt for the bigger tool and leave Paraben alone. That would not, in our view, be a wise choice since DS has such an extensive and powerful feature set.
Basic no-cost support - eight-hours-a-day/five-days-a-week - comes with the product and that adds a lot of value that must be considered when figuring the lifecycle cost of ownership. We liked the website. It has a good support portal with an FAQ and a knowledge base. We especially liked the variety of information provided on the website. There are links to conferences, training events, additional knowledge sources and, of course, the support portal functions.