IoT Smart Home Devices in Investigations

Photo by BENCE BOROS on Unsplash

When we think of the term Internet of Things (IoT), we think of a world where every possible device that can be connected to the network, is connected.

Washing machines can notify you when the load is complete. Fridges can let you know they are low on food. Smoke detectors will send you a message to say that the batteries are running low and remote doorbells will help you to see the name-tag of the delivery guy who said he rang the doorbell twice. It is definitely a great feat where tons of information will be available to the average user.

IoT devices have already been making waves in both the global market and the cyber-security realm. These devices are designed to be user friendly and are less security focused. This is actually a good thing for forensic examiners as it means that tons of valuable data can be extracted and analyzed to answer pressing questions.

“Smart home devices can play important roles through their motion detectors or microphones. These devices can help in conclusively proving a suspect’s location” (Yaqoob, Hashem, Ahmed, Kazmi, & Hong, 2018).

Some examples of investigations that rely on smart home devices are:

  1. The use of smart light bulb data to determine whether someone was actually at their home when they said they weren’t.
  2. The investigation of Google home and Alexa type devices to review voice recordings and voice searches that may indicate a user’s knowledge of their search history.

These cases both rely heavily on getting network or physical access to the devices and data, however, they can contain the data that makes or breaks a case.

IoT forensics is still a far way from being comprehensive but that doesn’t mean the data it creates should be overlooked. Smart home devices must be considered when trying to perform incident response and digital forensic examinations.


Yaqoob, I., Hashem, I. A., Ahmed, A., Kazmi, A., S.M., & Hong, C. S. (2018, October 11). Internet of things forensics: Recent advances, taxonomy, requirements, and open challenges [Scholarly project]. In Http:// Retrieved May 15, 2020, from