There’s no question that digital forensics has done a great deal of good for modern law enforcement. As digital technology grows more ubiquitous, more advanced, and more tightly integrated into our day-to-day lives, so too has it grown to play an increasingly important role in the modern criminal justice system. Modern criminals generate reams of digital evidence, and this evidence is empowering investigators to solve cases that would have been impossible to crack just a few years ago.
It’s not all good news, however. As the saying goes: When it rains, it pours, and today’s digital forensics investigators are all but drowning in digital evidence generated by smartphones and other digital devices, while often lacking the resources needed to sort through it all. As a result, digital forensics backlog is becoming a serious problem for law enforcement organizations around the world, and many forensics teams now find themselves sitting on treasure troves of untouched digital evidence that extend back years and through hundreds of cases.
In Georgia, for example, a growing pileup in the state’s crime labs have left some law enforcement officials waiting over a year for critical forensic evidence. In Virginia, a years-long backlog of digital devices has led to negative press coverage for the state’s Department of Forensic Science. In the UK, reports have shown that the justice system is at a “breaking point” over digital evidence. And those are just a few of the most prominent examples.
It’s no surprise that investigators are overwhelmed. We don’t just live in the era of data, we live in the era of big data, and it’s getting bigger all the time. Analysts project that the sum total of all stored data on earth will reach a whopping 44 zettabytes by the end of 2020. That’s the number “44” followed by 21 zeroes—40x more individual “bytes” than there are stars in the observable universe—and a ten-fold increase from 2013.
To say that this global information explosion has led to bigger, more difficult digital forensics cases would be an understatement worthy of its own criminal investigation. Fortunately, a new generation of digital forensics technology has emerged to help tackle these problems, and may hold the key to helping investigators solve some of their oldest, most difficult cases as well.
In particular, advances in processing speed and artificial intelligence technology are giving investigators the ability to review digital evidence from dozens or hundreds of devices in just a few hours. Software solutions like Oxygen Forensic® Detective enable investigators to upload multiple devices to a single platform, where they can easily perform global searches and run AI-powered image recognition algorithms to quickly identify illicit materials. And tools like Oxygen Forensic® Detective powered by Jet Engine enable investigators to zoom through millions of relevant files in a fraction of the time needed for legacy solutions.
This sort of functionality could play a tremendous role in helping law enforcement agencies around the world tackle the growing problem of digital forensics case backlog, and could lead to the resolution of numerous cold cases. Leveraging tools like Oxygen Forensic® Detective, departments can begin digitizing their backlogs—uploading data from evidence bins filled with dusty old smartphones to create rich databases of images, text messages, and other key data. From there, it would be easy to run facial recognition and other search algorithms across years’ worth of devices, unearthing evidence of old crimes or simply drawing connections between persons of interest.
To learn more about how to get the most value out of your digital evidence, and to find out if Oxygen Forensic® Detective is the right solution for you, click here, and follow us on Twitter @oxygenforensic.