Digital Forensics: The Missing Chip To Solving Crimes

Rahul Dwivedi, CEO, Pelorus TechnologiesIt is evident through the scalable adoption of digital technology that the execution of crime has changed in this digital age. Intentions being same, criminals have adopted digital hardware devices like mobile phones, laptops, computers and other devices to execute a crime leading to less traceable evidences. With absence of biological evidences, leaving just the digital footprint results in a challenge for police and forensics experts. To overcome such challenges, Digital Forensic Solutions were developed that allowed forensic teams to use digital footprints on digital devices that are recovered from a crime scene to help solve cases. These finding are presented in the court of law during the trial proceedings.

Digital hardware devices such as a mobile phone, save a lot of information that includes much more than just call logs, messages, contacts, media and social media logs. A digital forensics solution can extract data out of such digital devices for investigation of the crime. To extract such evidential data, such a device is sent to a Forensic Laboratory, which is equipped with a Digital Forensic Tool. Once recovered from a crime scene, the device has to be cut-off from any mobile/internet network by either switching-off the device or by placing it in a faraday bag and sealed for trans-port to the forensic lab. Such evidences are only opened by an authorized Forensic Laboratory Personnel.

A Digital Forensic Tool is capable of extracting below listed data elements from the digital hardware devices:
1. Logical SMS, Contacts, Call Logs, Media and App Data.
2. File System ­ Open & Hidden Files.
3. Physical ­ Deleted Files, System, and other data on the device.
4. Cloud Analysis ­ Analyzes cloud data and other social site records.
The uses of digital hardware devices are not only in bank frauds, ATM thefts, account hacking, pornography, blackmails cases, and so on, but also in extreme criminal and terrorist activities. One such case was the recent ransom ware attack that targeted corporates and personal computers by hacking into these systems and taking complete control of the device until a sum of money is paid to the hackers to regain control of the systems.
In the event of crime, such as murder, digital evidences from the crime scene are thoroughly examined using Digital Forensic Tools to extract as much data as possible in connection with the murder. Call logs, temperature logs, internal data, emails, social media messages & posts, GPS, and other logs are extracted from such devices. Law enforcement agencies also use Call Data Records (CDR) analysis to find connections between individuals using call records received from the mobile service provider at a special request. Findings from these Digital Forensic Tools and CDR Analysis are coupled with biological evidences retrieved from the crime scene are used to solve the case.

With several cases of child suicide, self-harm, and attempted suicide allegedly as a result of playing the Blue Whale Challenge. The Indian government requested all the major search engines to remove any links that directed users to the game. A government appointed committee then analyzed internet activities, device activities, call records, social media activities, and other forensic evidences coupled with findings from interactions with rescued victims were used to solve the case.

The implementation of Digital Forensic Tools at major Forensic Science Laboratories and setting-up of new Cyber Crime Investigation Cells across India has increased the potential of Law Enforcement agencies to solve cases with strong evidences in the court of law

Another case where the use of social media registered recently was where a Pune-based Man was duped by a couple. The victim was contacted using Instagram by the man and feigned interest in a monetary investment with his help. He then sent a flight ticket to the victim on WhatsApp and claimed to be coming to New Delhi from London. The victim received call from a women, claiming to be a customs officer informing the victim that the man failed immigration clearance and is carrying expensive goods through London. The victim was made to transfer around Rs.30,00,000 to nine different accounts for various reasons, including upgrading his bank account for deposit of foreign currency, affidavit of approval, anti-drug and terrorist test, and accommodation of the man, among others. The victim approached the cyber crime cell who carried-out preliminary investigation. Subsequently, a case under Section 406, 419, 410, and 34 of Indian Penal Code and Sections 66(c)(d) of Information Technology Act was registered against the couple.

Cyber Crime Divisions in the Police have also been successful in preventing numerous suicide cases. The cyber crime division monitors social media for suicide notes and other suicide-related symptoms and then takes necessary actions to prevent such incidents by sending a quick response team to the individual with suicidal tendencies.

Cyber Forensic Tools have helped Law Enforcement agencies to solve many cases by being the crucial missing link in providing strong evidences to prove the involvement of a criminal in the crime. The implementation of Digital Forensic Tools at major Forensic Science Laboratories and setting-up of new Cyber Crime Investigation Cells across India has increased the potential of Law Enforcement agencies to solve cases with strong evidences in the court of law. The implementation of Digital Forensics Solutions have helped reduce the number of crimes via Digital Hardware Devices and helped Law Enforcement punish the guilty.