Our latest R&D developments and what to expect in 2021
Dave Ranner & Matt Burns
In many scenarios, technology has been introduced to make people’s lives easier, or make processes more efficient. For example, ordering food via an app rather than over the phone, or managing your money through online banking instead of going to a physical branch.
These technological improvements are so useful they’ve been ingrained into our everyday lives, along with many others. But the fact is, they aren’t actually a necessity. While we may be inconvenienced, we won’t suffer any dramatic impacts if we have to order our pizza in person rather than online.
The same cannot be said for crime investigation technology. Digital investigative tools are absolutely fundamental to the work investigators do – especially when the crime itself has been digitally recorded. In most scenarios, it would be impossible for investigators to make progress without them, leaving cases unsolved and victims unidentified.
When crimes are committed online, such as CSE on the internet, the digital landscape becomes your ‘crime scene’. This presents a seemingly infinite amount of data for investigators to search through in order to find evidence.
For example, if an investigator confiscates an offender’s phone, most of the terabytes of data on that phone will be unimportant. Finding the data that proves the offender’s guilt, or uncovering the intelligence you need, is like finding a needle in a very complicated, never-ending haystack.
In comparison, human resource is not only finite, but scarce. Searching through this endless haystack is an impossible and fruitless task when performed manually. Therefore, digital tools that help LEAs search for evidence don’t just increase efficiency, they make finding said evidence possible in the first place.
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Carving tools: Extract files from a suspected device and forensically mine them for evidence without damaging, modifying or deleting files.
Analysis tools: Study carved images on mass to get high-level statistics about the source device, such as suspicious apps or the number of images present.
Digital Forensics: Analyse specific items, such as individual video clips or images, to pinpoint or extract detailed data, such as a voice on a video.
Open-source investigation tools: Organise data from public sources to find connections with known offender data.
There are many additional benefits investigative tools can offer alongside the obvious of enabling efficient digital forensics and evidence searching. LEAs have an extremely difficult job, and most tools aim to account for these unique challenges:
Mental and Emotional Stress
With image forensics tools investigators don’t have to look through abuse images themselves, protecting them from being exposed to this material as much as possible. This also helps protect the victims in these images.
Certain tools can automatically provide insight or potential links between images/files that investigators wouldn’t otherwise have found, enabling them to progress their case.
Performing investigative tasks through a dedicated tool gives investigators an audit trail of their work. This is extremely valuable for keeping track of multiple leads and for evidence reporting.
CameraForensics, and many other technology providers in the criminal investigative industry, prefer to work alongside their users to build these tools. Our aim is to help them overcome their challenges; so, law enforcement users should know that they can always contact their provider to ask questions or provide feedback.
We also have a responsibility as technology developers to constantly look for ways to improve. We work with a network of partners and collaborators in order to proactively build better technology – but we always welcome user input and guidance when it comes to their needs.
If you have any questions, suggestions or feedback about the CameraForensics tools, please get in touch.