2010 Computer Forensics Show in NY City

Beginning April 19th, the FBI’s New York Office InfraGard team co-sponsored the 2010 Computer Forensics Show in New York, New York.   More than 1,000 people signed up for the two-day conference.  Over 350 individuals were provided computer, accounting, and legal forensic educational training.

Topics of discussion presented by members of the FBI’s InfraGard team included:

  • 2010 Cyber Threats and Trends.
  • Using Network Forensics to Combat Cyber Attacks.
  • State of the Hack—Find Evil. Solve Crime.
  • Combating Threats to Your Critical IT Infrastructure.
  • The Use of Digital Forensics in Inspecting Chemical, Biological, and Nuclear Facilities

Atendees of the event were advised that modern communications devices such as smartphones and game consoles pose a thorny problem to law enforcement agencies trying to gather forensic data that reveals criminal activity.  There are many different carriers, different phones, different cables – just try to keep up.  Forensic tools for cell phones are in their infancy.  Smartphones can communicate via SMS, MMS, mobile e-mail, mobile internet access, VoIP and traditional cellular voice networks, making each a nightmare maze of proprietary technologies to unlock it.

Retrieving SMS messages can depend on the model of phone, the carrier involved, even the country in which the phone is used.  SIM cards removed from phones carry potentially useful forensic information, but unless associated with a particular phone’s PIN, the data remains out of reach.  If the the make and model of the phone is known,  the manufacturers’ “personal unlock feature” if it exists, could release the data.

The proliferation of cell phones is also a problem.  Searches of homes can turn up drawers full of cell phones that are no longer used, but are never thrown out.  Each one can demand valuable forensic time. 

Game consoles can be used to connect to the Internet and to send e-mail, but have very little internal memory.  The drive tends to be quickly over written and the data is gone forever.   That means users can send Web-based e-mail and leave no trace.  Meanwhile, the FBI continues to seek help from the private sector to protect critical infrastructure, with IT professionals detecting terrorist activities before the bad guys can carry out their plans.

The New York City FBI bureau has 1,100 staffers enforcing 400 different violations, plus seeking terrorists.  Infragard, an alliance of the FBI/business/academia to protect US infrastructure from terrorists, sought help at the 2010 Computer Forensics Show where professionals and students who are likely to have an interest in law enforcement came for seminars gathering evidence for legal cases.  The New York area Infragard chapter offers educational seminars online during weekly podcasts.