Feeds

Top UK cybercop dreams of PC breathalysers

Plod friendly kit tops PCeU technology wish list

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

A breathalyser-style tool for PCs capable of spotting potentially illegal activity is needed in order to address a mounting computer forensics workload. However experts in the field warn that such a device, desirable though it might be, could be difficult to develop in a reliable form.

Detective Superintendent Charlie McMurdie, who spearheaded the successful campaign to establish the UK's forthcoming Police Central E-crime Unit (PCeU), said officers needed an easy to use tool for computer forensics in order to deal with the growing numbers of seizures. Computer evidence increasingly forms a part of more and more cases ranging from the more traditional areas of fraud and child pornography to serious crime and murder investigations.

Instead of taking away all PCs to be examined in a lab, the equivalent of hauling every suspected drink driver in for a blood test, an easy to use tool could be used to carry out a quick assessment and retrieve evidence.

McMurdie told silicon.com: "Do we need to seize five computers in a suspect's house or could we use a simple tool to preview on site and identify there's that one email we are looking for and we can then use that and interview the person now, rather then waiting six to 12 months for the evidence to come back to us?”

"For example, look at breathalysers - I am not a scientist, I could not do a chemical test on somebody when they are arrested for drink driving but I have a tool that tells me when to bring somebody in."

Computer forensics analysis is typically carried out using the Guidance Software EnCase tool, often by computer forensics experts in private industry. The back log of this work is huge and officers can potentially wait months for the result of such forensics work.

Experts reckon that developing a simple PC breathalyser-style device would involve overcoming challenging technical problems. "From a practical point of view this is much more difficult than it might seems. You can't just plug a memory stick into a PC and extract internet history files, that will alter the state of the computer. Write blocking technology is needed and that's expensive," said Simon Steggles, director of of data recovery and computer forensics specialists Disklabs.

A simple computer forensics tool might be possible, Microsoft has reportedly supplied such a USB form-factor device to law enforcement agencies, at no cost and on a trial basis. But no off-the-shelf kit exists.

McMurdie also talked about plans to establish a "central forensic server" that computer forensics experts across the country might use. "Say one of the banks is attacked and we need to have a look at one of their hard drives: that bank would have something that they can plug their system in to and that connects to this central forensic server," she said.

"Say there is a copper who is a forensic expert in Devon and Cornwall, he could hook into the central server and deal with it from Devon and Cornwall, rather than traveling up to London." ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
Lawyers mobilise angry mob against Apple over alleged 2011 Macbook Pro crapness
We suffered 'random bouts of graphical distortion' - fanbois
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
Verizon bankrolls tech news site, bans tech's biggest stories
No agenda here. Just don't ever mention Net neutrality or spying, ok?
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Simplify SSL certificate management across the enterprise
Simple steps to take control of SSL across the enterprise, and recommendations for a management platform for full visibility and single-point of control for these Certificates.