Even though Digital Forensics has expanded its capabilities and use-cases since its inception, it is constantly evolving and you need to be prepared for the changes coming. New features on computers and smartphones are causing existing digital forensics features to be outdated and unreliable when investigating. New crimes are being committed and the tools in existence are not capable of collecting and processing that sort of evidence yet. But not to worry, there are many companies out there researching tools to handle investigations in critical areas of development. Here are 5 key areas you want to make sure your team has the most up-to-date technology and the most experienced training.
The number of smartphone devices that are using different software is growing constantly and not all digital forensics tools can keep up with the changes. Companies like Apple, Android, Samsung, and many others may have smartphones with similar features, but at the root of it, they all have different software code that makes it difficult for each forensic tool to recognize what it is looking at. This causes reliability issues when using tools that are not designed to extract data from the phone you have seized.
To make sure you don't struggle in the future with this when on-scene or in a lab, make sure you choose mobile forensic tools that are certified to pull evidence from devices that you come across most often. That’s why it is important to build a digital forensic toolkit. Also, make sure you choose a software provider that regularly releases new versions of their software so you are always using the latest tools that are evolving with the market.
AI vision and Auto-Tagging
AI Vision and auto-tagging are machine learning features in digital forensics that looks at photos the same way that a human would and automatically tag evidence related to your search profile in a faster, more efficient way. This is a very important feature that will allow you to dismiss irrelevant information and show priority evidence that will lead to a conviction.
AI vision is particularly important because it is a crucial time-saver and can identify objects in photos. A tool with sophisticated AI vision can also identify commonalities between photos that you may not be looking for, like background images or location settings. To stay ahead in this area, you will want to know more about machine learning and processing speed. The new area in this field is not only analyzing the evidence but analyzing large amounts of data faster and with more accuracy. Machine learning also helps evidence that you did not realize what you are looking for and extracts information that may be more relevant to the case than you may think.
Facial Recognition and Analysis
This is a common topic when people think of digital forensics. Being able to identify people in photos definitely saves time, but the ability to identify a person to the point where you know their name, birthplace and home address is still unrealistic. Tools or systems like that require access to an extensive database of faces to identify and compare photos to or have the budget to maintain that system.
Instead, there are growing areas of facial analysis that can be extremely important to your department or agency that give you a general idea of who you are by the demographic features of the individuals in photos. Suspect Technologies, a technology partner of ADF Solutions, is able to analyze the age of people in photos and tell you the approximate age of the people in photos. Such a tool is extremely useful when prosecuting ICAC and child-exploitation cases as well as instances of human trafficking.
This area though is still developing because of its low accuracy rates in minority groups and women, and the image files need to be high quality in order to accurately analyze the pixelated information. However, the current tools are still insightful and there is much development in the field so this becomes an even greater tool for law enforcement and the combined use with biometric data to provide greater accuracy. In addition, the software is being developed to also identify individuals in photos that are not in perfect condition (such as dark surroundings, awkward camera angles, and so forth).
Currently, there is no tool or company that can do everything under the sun in digital forensics and it is okay to have to purchase different tools from different vendors. But the market becomes more diverse and you are using different companies' tools to solve a case, a great system integrator software is a must.
System integration software is a tool that lets you import evidence from different forensics software so you can have access to the data in one location. Rather than having to export the information and then spending manual labor reentering the information into one easy-to-read format, a system integrator will be able to do that for you and let it be accessible on the cloud so collaborative agencies can get access to the information quicker and easier.
System integrators are a relatively new market and are still growing, but here are a few questions you want to ask yourself if you choose one in the near future. First is do they integrate the tools you are using or plan on using. Not all integrators are designed to pull in the same tools, so make sure you choose one that works with the tools you use or plan to use. Second, will the system integrator present the evidence in a manner that won’t be difficult to present in court? Last, and most importantly, does it make sense? You want the combined evidence presented in an integrator to make sense to your team and save you time and resources compared to what you were doing before. Some of the tools coming out are answering these questions and you will want to make sure they answer these questions before you decide to purchase one for your department or team.
Cryptocurrency and AI Involvement
Cryptocurrency is the topic everyone is talking about these days. New crypto coins and blockchain systems are being created every day and you and your team want to be ahead of the game. Crypto has been proven to be the newest and most popular way to launder money for both criminals and terrorist networks. In addition, new insider trading and price exploitation are on the rise in these markets, and the SEC is still learning how to try evidence in these cases.
Currently, there are a number of tools that can use artifact detection to see what currency has been on a device. But where the market will move towards is still up in the air. Currently, the need to track the transfers of blockchain is the area that numerous companies are developing the tools to do. Also, the need to look at crypto-wallets, digital wallets that hold the currency, is also important to be able to analyze. But the new focus, that many financial agencies are trying to discover, is where the money is going. Since blockchain does not move through banks like typical finances, they are looking to digital forensics to show them where to move forward.