Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response FAQs


First and foremost, we would like to send our warmest wishes to everyone affected by the coronavirus pandemic.  The statistics we see are real people with loved ones and lives that are valuable.

Carney Forensics has formulated a coronavirus plan to keep our clients safe and also our associates safe.  We hope the Frequently Asked Questions below will answer your questions.

How does contactless pickup of my device work?

Carney Forensics now provides contactless pickup which includes:

  • A planned and confirmed appointment with date, time, and location for pickup
  • Arrangements in advance for chain of custody and service agreement signatures by email
  • Or, signatures at the contactless pickup using social distancing (bring your own pen)
  • Receipt of retainer check at contactless pickup, or payment in advance by LawPay or credit card
  • Receipt of device and accessories (cables, SD cards, etc.) in a package (usually cardboard box) of which we will take possession at pickup using social distancing.

How should I protect my device during contactless pickup?

Clients should protect mobile devices by enclosing them in a Faraday bag or aluminum foil wraps.  They should enable Airplane Mode to protect the device from cell towers, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth signals.

Will my device be cleaned or disinfected during contactless pickup?

After pickup we will clean your device by wiping it down with non-toxic disinfectant before entering our lab.  After examination we will clean and wipe your device with disinfectant once again before we pack and ship it back to you via USPS Priority Mail.

Do you still provide no-charge in-person pickups?

Yes, we will perform all contactless pickups at no-charge, but during the surge in COVID-19 these winter months, we only pickup at our lab facility within the Twin Cities metro.

Should I wear a mask and gloves to drop off my device?

We would appreciate it.  Our pickup person will be wearing an N95 mask and gloves at the pickup and will practice social distancing.

Can I ship my device to you instead of using contactless pickup?

Yes, we would prefer it for your safety and ours during the pandemic. We have been receiving devices for forensic examination in overnight shipment packages for over a decade from all over the U.S.  We always recommend purchasing the tracking service and sending us the ID by email.  We will email notification of arrival when we receive your device.

Why is the tracking ID so important?

The tracking ID serves as an electronic chain of custody and is accepted for evidence admissibility by federal and state courts all over the U.S. It works especially well in this COVID-19 era and is our preference.  It’s straightforward, supports evidence admissibility impeccably, is cost-effective, and is fully and accurately documented for legal protocols in both criminal and civil matters.

How should I pack my device for contactless pickup?

For mobile devices please see our article “Sending the Phone or Tablet to Carney Forensics.”

For computers please see our article “Sending the Drive to Carney Forensics.”

How do I pay the retainer for digital forensic services?

  • Use LawPay on this web site to pay your retainer.
  • Or, call in your credit card to (651) 695-1757.
  • We also accept checks during the contactless pickup, or through U.S. mail.

How and when will my device be returned?

After your device is forensically copied or imaged, and at your request, we will ship it overnight using USPS Priority Mail with their tracking service.  We will email the tracking ID to notify you when your package is coming.  This method is our preference for returns because it’s straightforward, supports admissibility impeccably, is cost-effective, and is a fully documented transaction.

How much does it cost for the acquisition and analysis of evidence from a mobile phone?

In the majority of cases we can acquire and process the phone’s evidence and generate tool analysis reports for between $2,500 to $3,500. Our hourly rate is $325 and each phone takes approximately 8 to 12 hours of lab time.

Can you bypass a phone’s passcode?

Often yes. Our mobile device forensic tools use bootloaders which can often bypass passcodes and extract the phone’s memory. Our tools can also remove passcodes from some phones. And we often use JTAG, chip-off, and ISP extractions of phone memory to bypass passcode protection.

Can you recover evidence from apps on a mobile device?

Yes, it’s our specialty. App evidence recovery from mobile devices depends on the make and model of the phone and the particular app which is the target of the goal of the examination. Every third party app records user-generated data in different ways. It is hard to state that deleted information can or cannot be recovered from a specific app without analyzing both the device and the app in question. The more popular the app, the better the chance is to recover the evidence because of support by more mobile device forensic tools.

Can you recover deleted evidence from a mobile phone?

Generally yes. The type and amount of deleted evidence recovered from a mobile phone depends on several factors: Make and model of the phone, usage of phone since the deletion, and length of time since deletion. Regrettably, we cannot guarantee all deleted evidence can be recovered from a mobile phone.

How long will my client need to give up their phone?

Usually just overnight. If we pick it up late afternoon, we can have it back by first thing in the morning. Please make sure all passcodes are available to us and the phone is not damaged.

What is computer forensics?

Computer forensics involves identifying, preserving, collecting, processing, analyzing, and reporting on digital evidence using highly sophisticated software and hardware tools and scientific methods acceptable in courts of law. Computer forensics when done properly changes no evidence on a computer, its hard drive, or other storage device.

Do you perform acquisitions of computer evidence on site at a client’s business?

Yes, we will collect on site, often after hours or on weekends, at the convenience of the client. We prefer to do the analysis our lab which is more cost effective.

How much does a computer forensic acquisition and analysis cost?

It’s difficult to accurately estimate total costs upfront. There are many unknown factors and analysis opportunities to consider before evidence collection and preliminary analysis. Carney Forensics strives to provide the best service in the most cost-effective manner. From the initial call through final reports or courtroom testimony, our experts work closely with each client to ensure they have the information they need to make good decisions and prioritize analysis opportunities and weigh costs against benefits throughout the investigation or matter.

What do you charge to image a hard drive?

Hard Drive: $750 Flat Fee.
Forensic image of one (1) storage device at Carney Forensics lab facilities not to exceed 1 TB, including three months of secure storage for image (physical media is returned to the client). Also includes Files List spreadsheet by e-mail. If image exceeds 1TB, an additional charge of $100 will be charged. This price includes Chain of Custody documentation.

SD Card / Memory Card / Flash or Thumb Drive: $350 Flat Fee.
Forensic image of one (1) storage device at Carney Forensics lab facilities not to exceed 128GB, including three months of secure storage for image (physical media is returned to the client). Also includes Files List spreadsheet by e-mail. If image exceeds 128GB, an additional charge of $50 will be charged. This price includes Chain of Custody documentation.

Shipping: USPS Priorty Mail ground shipping of media to or from MN is standard. If client wants faster shipping, we will ship UPS or Fedex and bill client for costs.

What are examples of digital evidence?

Digital evidence has been critical to our clients’ cases including operating system and app artifacts which establish or support claims of theft of intellectual property, document forgery, evidence spoliation, text message deletion, and existence of an alternate perpetrator. For more specific examples of digital evidence, please see the Carney Forensics case studies.

What do you charge for storage of evidence?

Carney Forensics will store client’s data for three months at no charge. If you would like us continue to store your data, we charge $50 per month.

How long do computer forensic examinations take?

The answer depends on numerous factors. This is why it’s important to call us and talk to our project manager about the evidence to be recovered. Once we understand your case and the evidence you need, we can give you a ballpark estimate. The volume of data on the devices, how much searching and filtering is needed, and what other analyses are required will influence the time required.

What is Cloud Forensics?

According to NIST:
Cloud forensics is the application of digital forensics science in cloud computing environments. Technically, it consists of a hybrid forensic approach (e.g., remote, virtual, network, live, large-scale, thin-client, thick-client) towards the generation of digital evidence. Organizationally, it involves interactions among cloud actors (i.e., cloud provider, cloud consumer, cloud broker, cloud carrier, cloud auditor) for the purpose of facilitating both internal and external investigations. Legally it often implies multi-jurisdictional and multi- tenant situations.

According to Darshik Jariwala (March 20, 2013):
Cloud Forensics is cross-discipline between Cloud Computing and Digital Forensics. Cloud Forensics is actually an application within Digital Forensics which oversees the crime committed over the cloud and investigates it. Cloud computing is based on a huge network, which spreads globally. Hence, Cloud Forensics is said to be a subset of Network Forensics. The basic technique remains as the forensic investigation of a network.

My client’s phone is damaged and will not power up. Can you collect the data from cloud accounts connected to the phone?

Generally, yes.  Even if the phone is damaged or not physically available, we can collect large amounts of data, sometimes exceeding that which is available on the phone.  Cloud collection requires legal authority and proper authentication credentials to access the cloud evidence.

Is my client’s GPS data stored in his or her cloud account?

Often it is.  Apple iCloud accounts, if connected to the iPhone, store photos and videos captured with its camera.  Those photos and videos often contain embedded GPS coordinates.  Also app data from many iPhone apps is stored in the connected iCloud account and sometimes includes GPS coordinates.  Think the Apple Maps app and others.

Google accounts also store photo, video, and app data for connected Android smart phones.  Google Maps is a popular app with GPS coordinates.  But Google accounts support another avenue to harvest GPS data.  The Google Timeline for connected Android apps is stored in the cloud account and generally contains Google Location History for places the phone has been, sometimes for years.

Business FAQs

How can I be sure my client’s digital device will be admissible in court?

We have admitted digital evidence in federal and state courts all over the country for more than a decade and have never had our evidence denied. We maintain a strict chain of custody with foundation and we photograph all of our devices on intake.  We record fullsome lab notes of our examinations.

Do you have an expert witness that can testify for me in court?

Yes, John J. Carney, Esq. is our expert witness who testifies in court for our cases. He is an attorney, licensed in state and federal court, and has a Bachelor’s of Science degree from MIT and a J.D. from Mitchell Hamline School of Law. He is a voting member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

How do we know if a digital forensics company is qualified?

It is essential to review the CVs of the digital forensic examiners. Do they have training and certifications for the top mobile, computer and cloud forensic tools? How many years’ experience do they have in performing forensics examinations? How many and on what types of cases have they worked? How often have they testified in court? An expert should be happy to share their experience, credentials, and references.

Can you help me with the technical language for a subpoena, court order, or preservation of evidence?

Yes. Our forensic experts can assist counsel in drafting language that will allow us to collect all the evidence in your case whether it’s mobile, computer, cloud, or cell towers. Few lawyers have both the technical and legal knowledge to draft these legal documents.

What are your professional services rates?

You can find our current price sheet here.

How do I hire you?

Carney Forensics is normally engaged by attorneys on behalf of their clients. Once we have the details of your case, we will check for any conflicts of interest with the parties. If none exist, we will send our service agreement to your attorney for his or her review and signature.