Sunday, July 03, 2011

HTML5: holds a future for and after other mobile apps

HTML5: holds a future for and after other mobile apps

I have just written about mobile apps and forensics (windows-phone-apps-reach-new-market) because it is here and now and requires attention. An aspect of Forensics though is equally not being blinked to future trends. The question of future trends was asked by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee in their recent report cmselect 855. It is really worth the time and effort to download and read this report.

HTML5 is a future trend and one that has already started to take hold. As nebusiness's The Journal pointed out ( "HTML5 builds on the technology of the existing internet but, as every web user knows, if you lose your connection, you lose your work. With HTML5 you don’t – you can go from connected to disconnected and never notice: files can be saved locally and remotely when needed, just like normal apps. Quietly, we’re starting to see more HTML5 apps, like that of the FT, which work on all devices. The FT app is amazing. Try it out. It’s all in HTML5 and as good as, if not better, than a native iPhone app."

With HTML5 there is a sense that forensics might see improvement in interpreting data that could be properly rendered for viewing; currently this can require other apps to assist that process. Moreover, vast quantities of unintelligible random code and data which could not be rendered by handsets can be found during physical dumps that no one really makes sense to identify what it is. Were unravelling and decoding of random code/data to be explained in itself it still might not explicitly or implicity confirm whether the handset user could see/access rendered versions of that code and data on the handset screen or select content by using the handset UI. HTML5 may yet assist in solving some of these issues, so is it a future trend forensic practitioners should be aware?

Well, I think it is something that cannot be excluded largely due to the fact it is at present being used, mobile browsers are making use of it and widely used mobile handsets support or portions of it in e.g. Apple's iOS 4.2, Android, Samsung, Nokia and so on.

So what can HTML5 do for mobile web browsing?
Well, it helps standardise those issues which had previously been problematical to mobile web browsing and, for mobile web developers, to get testable, cross-platform and standards-based interface for developing content that, prior to HTML5, required _fit_the_need_of_the_technology_ methods or proprietory APIs to achieve the level of rendering needed for rich content and browsing.

HTML5 and Forensics
It opens up the door for new or improved evidence. Do remember, particularly for those readers not involved with forensics, evidence doesn't necessarily mean recovered data that is detrimental or that some massive spying operation is in progress. Mobile HTML5 could have benefits to assist retain data that could help resolve a dispute, track a missing person and so on. Location awareness, localised data caching when mobile connectivity is lost and a range of other features that I shall be discussing later on.

What is possible to say at this stage, omitted data previously breaking the chain of causation needed for forensic evaluation may well be greatly assisted by HMTL5 but without a forensic examiner having to put, metaphorically speaking, all his/her sought artefact-eggs into one evidential-methodology basket. Nice !

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