Forensic Analysis of WhatsApp SQLite Databases on the Unrooted Android Phones

Hasan Fayyad-Kazan, Sondos Kassem-Moussa, Hussin J. Hejase, Ale J. Hejase


WhatsApp is the most popular instant messaging mobile application all over the world. Originally designed for simple and fast communication, however, its privacy features, such as end-to-end encryption, eased private and unobserved communication for criminals aiming to commit illegal acts. In this paper, a forensic analysis of the artefacts left by the encrypted WhatsApp SQLite databases on unrooted Android devices is presented. In order to provide a complete interpretation of the artefacts, a set of controlled experiments to generate these artefacts were performed. Once generated, their storage location and database structure on the device were identified. Since the data is stored in an encrypted SQLite database, its decryption is first discussed. Then, the methods of analyzing the artefacts are revealed, aiming to understand how they can be correlated to cover all the possible evidence. In the results obtained, it is shown how to reconstruct the list of contacts, the history of exchanged textual and non-textual messages, as well as the details of their contents. Furthermore, this paper shows how to determine the properties of both the broadcast and the group communications in which the user has been involved, as well as how to reconstruct the logs of the voice and video calls.


Doi: 10.28991/HIJ-2022-03-02-06

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Android; Instant Messaging; Mobile Forensics; SQLite Databases; WhatsApp Messenger.


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DOI: 10.28991/HIJ-2022-03-02-06


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