Forensic Source Identification using JPEG Image Headers: The Case of Smartphones

Conference contribution
(Original article)

Publication Details

Author(s): Mullan P, Rieß C, Freiling F
Publication year: 2019
Conference Proceedings Title: Digital Investigation
Language: English


A common problem in forensic investigations is the identification of the source of multimedia data, i.e.,
determining the model, make or individual device that recorded media content. In contrast to methods
based on sensor noise, source linkage based on header information of media items allows for easy
automation. Such header information involves metadata like EXIF tags and the parameterization of the
JPEG algorithm. While traditional digital cameras typically had a fixed software stack that makes it
straightforward to fingerprint a device, modern mobile devices vary considerably in their software stack
over time. We perform a large-scale study of JPEG header information from Apple smartphones to
investigate the effect of this development on the possibility to perform source identification. Our analysis
shows that identification of the concrete hardware is much harder for smartphones than it is for
traditional cameras. However, identification of software stack, particularly the operating system version
and selected apps, is well feasible.

FAU Authors / FAU Editors

Freiling, Felix Prof. Dr.-Ing.
Lehrstuhl für Informatik 1 (IT-Sicherheitsinfrastrukturen)
Mullan, Patrick
Lehrstuhl für Informatik 1 (IT-Sicherheitsinfrastrukturen)
Rieß, Christian Dr.-Ing.
Lehrstuhl für Informatik 1 (IT-Sicherheitsinfrastrukturen)

How to cite

Mullan, P., Rieß, C., & Freiling, F. (2019). Forensic Source Identification using JPEG Image Headers: The Case of Smartphones. In Digital Investigation. Oslo, NO.

Mullan, Patrick, Christian Rieß, and Felix Freiling. "Forensic Source Identification using JPEG Image Headers: The Case of Smartphones." Proceedings of the DFRWS EU, Oslo 2019.


Last updated on 2019-02-08 at 14:08