March 8, 2021
Many crime labs are inundated and backlogged due to the overwhelming number of mobile phones, computers, and other personal devices that must be investigated for forensic evidence. Add to the mix the continuous need for dark net monitoring and social analytics, and the challenge becomes exponentially more complex. With so much data to analyze and not enough staff, budget, or tools, time to evidence gets longer, and in many cases leads to slower case resolution.
Fortunately, a cutting-edge digital open source intelligence (OSINT) solution can efficiently and timely identify and deliver key information to agencies, helping streamline data and reduce the burden on workflow. But which OSINT tools? How to use it? To run investigations more effectively – before, during and after OSINT – here are 7 questions managers should ask themselves.
1. Can frontline officers gather data at crime scenes in a more efficient and reliable way?
The starting point of many investigations is the photos, video clips, and other relevant digital evidence collected at the crime scene. By incorporating these intelligence points into an all-in-one platform, agencies can process massive amounts of visual, video, and sound data and attain unmatched situational and real-time awareness.
2. How is your data accessed?
At the crime scene and agency offices, quick and secure access to extracted data translates to expedited and uncompromised digital forensics. For the chain of evidence to remain intact, agencies must opt to undertake data extraction in-house as opposed to using third parties. This will increase control, ensure full custody, and save time.
3. How is your data managed?
Digital evidence management must be subject to rigorous protocols and compliance measures the same way physical evidence is. To manage forensic data well means protecting its integrity as it’s being shared among departments and other relevant parties. A digital evidence management system can ensure this.
4. How is information sharing managed?
Part of solving a case is sharing critical information with key agencies and personnel, locally, nationally, and sometimes internationally. Your digital workflow must equip you with the right tools to collaborate with others in an efficient way in order to gain better insights.
5. How can you best apply AI and machine learning to your data?
A digital crime case may include dozens of devices and platforms e.g., mobile, personal computers and cloud, each with a massive amount of data. Only an AI-powered analytics solution can crawl and extract meaningful insights from this multi-terabyte-sized terrain in a timely, efficient manner. AI leverages the right data and helps reduce workload at the agency.
6. How do you gain actionable intelligence?
For a crime intelligence team to gain key actionable insights, team members must be well trained in the what’s, how’s, and the why’s of digital forensic evidence. For example, if your staff doesn’t know the ins and outs of the darknet search engine, they might not fully understand how criminals access information. With this understanding and the right OSINT tools, your staff can gain actionable intelligence in a timely manner.
7. Do you present evidence to legal staff and jurors in an easily understandable way?
Critical data, if not presented in an easily understandable way, might get lost in the evidence pile. Use digital tools to present each case in a visually interesting and simple way e.g., using graphs, maps, timelines, etc. A good digital intelligence solution comes with a full suite of presentation tools.