POLICE Magazine

JUL 2018

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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A 16 POLICE JULY 2018 A little more than a decade ago the work of a digital forensic specialist was pretty much about computers. en along came the iPhone and Android and the chal- lenge of the spread of portable devices. Now new challenges are arising from technologies that few people even imag- ined before they burst upon the market. Today's digital investigator must learn how to extract evidence from drones, encrypted portable devices, cryptocurrency trades, and a grow- ing range of appliances and products defined as the Internet of ings (IoT). FLYING THINGS One of the most popular gifts found under the Christmas trees of average Americans the last two years were hobby drones. ese small remote-controlled aircraft look like toys, but they are ac- tually extremely sophisticated devices capable of capturing 4K- quality video, carrying payloads, and flying programmed routes well beyond line of sight. So it's little wonder that drones have caught the eyes of enterprising criminals, miscreants, and even terrorists. e most common criminal activity involving drones is smug- gling. ese little birds can carry a few pounds of drugs or cell- phones or other contraband into prisons. And they have been discovered doing so in the United States and in numerous for- eign countries. Drones can also carry drugs across the border. At least one such failed attempt was discovered south of the California bor- der town of San Ysidro in 2015. Since then more crashed drones have been discovered. And only the unsuccessful ones make the news or fall into law enforcement hands. e second most common category of drone crimes falls un- der the heading of harassment and surveillance. Drones are be- ing used by stalkers and sex offenders to monitor their prey. ey have also been used to spy on and even disrupt law enforcement operations. Drone pilots have even accidentally or intentionally buzzed and even struck police aircraft. Weaponized hobby and commercial drones are also com- mon in war zones. In Iraq terrorists have used drone swarms to carry out IED attacks. Last year in one of the most devastating drone attacks ever, pro-Russian separatists hit a huge Ukrainian military munitions storage facility with a single drone carrying a thermite grenade. e attack reportedly destroyed more than $1 billion in arms and ammunition. e size of the drone has not been reported, but the grenade did not have to be large, and there are numerous commercial and even hobby drones that could have done the job. e growing use of drones in criminal activity means that law enforcement is recovering them at crime scenes. Some have crashed; some were intentionally brought down by officers. Regardless of how a drone that was used in a crime falls into law enforcement hands, pulling evidence off of it will involve digital forensic analysis. But even officers and detectives at the scene need to know how to handle the device. No matter what the drone looks like, it is not a toy. Don't handle it without proper crime scene protocol because you might contaminate physical evidence left on the device by the perps. And don't turn it on be- cause doing so might alter the digital evidence. Also, don't do what some agencies have done and auction off a drone as seized property without having it analyzed for evidence. Drones are becoming such a concern for forensic investigators that three of the largest makers of cyber evidence analysis soft- ware, Cellebrite (www.cellebrite.com), MSAB (www.msab.com), and Oxygen Forensics (www.oxygen-forensic.com), recently demonstrated their new drone analytics tools at the Techno Se- curity & Digital Forensics Conference held last month in Myrtle Beach, SC. ese new drone tools are being incorporated into the com- panies' flagship cyber forensics software products and can in- terpret data captured by drones, including flight path, altitude, and speed. ey can also help analysts recover video and photos captured by the drone and metadata from any photos or video recovered. Experts say the amount of evidence that can be pulled off of a drone is limited by what is actually captured by law enforcement. Most of the time, the drone is recovered but not the controller or the smart device used to operate it. And as for data stored in the cloud, that's a non-starter because the servers are in China or controlled by Chinese companies. But there are at least two depositories of cyber evidence on the typical hobby drone: the camera memory and the internal memory. Cellebrite, MSAB, and Oxygen offer training to teach digital forensic specialists how to properly access and analyze this data. New Challenges in CYBER FORENSICS Drones, cryptocurrency transactions, and Internet of Things devices are just some of the new technologies that criminals are using and investigators need to be able to analyze. David Griffith

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