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Guest View: Web of deceit, sex and lies exposed through digital forensics

Dave Golding | Sept. 2, 2013
As criminals innovate, so must the police.

"Eh this client say want to see your IC first. How?"

"See my Sis ic? Haha?" 

The quotes above may strike a chord if you have been keeping up with the under-aged prostitution scandal in Singapore which saw 51 individuals charged. They were part of a series of text messages retrieved from the pimp and the parties involved. This scandal, along with the one involving the National University of Singapore, have one thing in common; information obtained from text messages and personal emails were instrumental in substantiating these cases.

This will not be the last time personal information is used in indicting a crime. With the advancements in mobile technology, tablets and smartphones now contain oodles of personal information. These smart devices are integral in our everyday lives; facilitating communication with friends abroad, keeping track of the latest news and performing secure transactions like Internet banking.

Beyond the sex scandals, messaging applications, mobile calls, SMS and emails are all ways in which criminal networks like loan sharks and terrorist cells stay connected and this is an area that must warrant considerable attention from the police; much like the recent Boston Marathon bombings where the perpetrator registered a prepaid mobile line under a fake pseudonym just days prior to the event. The well of information within the phone is potentially useful in exposing links to other radicals.

The traditional paper trail of evidence has moved into the digital realm. Criminals are getting better at hiding their deeds in bytes and zeroes and advances in forensic technology are required in order to uncover the ever more obscure pieces of evidence.

Thankfully, the tools available to the police, to help with catching the 'mobile criminal', are increasing in volume and effectiveness; forensic technology is keeping up with the wide range of communication mediums because the digital capabilities of criminals are only going to expand in the future.

Support has to be given to the police in the form of cutting-edge technology in order to deter such acts from happening and help to ensure that the perpetrators are held accountable. In an age where digital communication is so advanced and traces can be deleted with the push of a button, law enforcement agencies across the country must have a digital tool box at their disposal to uncover digital criminal activity.

The technology

There is a three-part process when it comes to mobile data collection. The first part is the actual extraction of the data. This involves connecting the phone with an extraction device to access the phone's storage.

After the extraction has taken place, the decoding of data from the mobile phone is designed to convert the data into its native format so that it can be analysed by the forensic team.


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