The answer to a panel question on cybercrime at CSI Portsmouth 2011

Before CSI Portsmouth 2011 was held on Saturday 5 November, I compiled some questions for our panel moderator, Cheryl Buggy, to put to the crime experts on the panel.  These were a Forensic Psychologist, a Crime Scene Expert and two detectives from Hampshire Police. One of the questions was e mailed to me from a writer in the USA.

I'd like some advice on filling in details of a person aiding the police in a small town on doing some computer searches. How do I find background on the more sophisticated forensic computer work?

I have posted the answer below and have added some additional research which I conducted. Cybercrime was a theme I used in my thriller novel In For The Kill and it will no doubt feature in a future thriller or DI Andy Horton crime novel as sadly it is a growing area of criminal activity.

It will vary depending on where you live and the organisational structure of your police force. In the Hampshire Police there is a High Tech Unit, which is part of the Scientific Services Department.  The High Tech unit looks into all kinds of computer crime including fraud, pornography, stalking and more.The unit undertakes the forensic examination and retrieval of evidence or intelligence from computers, computer related media and other digital devices. It is managed by a detective sergeant and comprises of seven detective constables, and three police staff who are all forensic computer examiners. It also has an office manager and a dedicated IT support person.

There are university courses in Forensic Information Technology (FIT), and the University of Portsmouth, (my crime novels are based in and around the Portsmouth area) has excellent courses. I have taken the information below from their website.

The sort of person who would be involved in this kind of work would need to have hands-on experience of computer systems, knowledge of IT systems, especially familiarity with PCs, networks, operating systems and systems security configuration and awareness of security issues at various levels of system implementation. They could have a Masters degree in Forensic Information Technology. I've added some information taken from the University of Portsmouth's course in  FIT.

The Forensic Computing expert will:
  • present computer or IT evidence in judicial or administrative hearings
  • investigate fraud and deception
  • investigate unauthorised access to computer systems, hacking etc
  • identify intruders' trails and scientifically, using IT means, gather evidence to prosecute
  • recover and acquire data which may have been hidden or deleted
  • investigate suspected inappropriate use of internet applications, such as email and instant messaging
  • monitor and analyse network traffic, including wireless networks, mobile phone traffic and faxes
  • practise cryptanalysis
  • prepare and audit security policies and their implementation
  • perform and evaluate a forensic examination of digital media
  • evaluate the fitness for purpose of forensic tools
I'm delighted to say that the individual who posted this question was thoroughly pleased with the information.

Cybercrime is a fascinating subject and unfortunately a growth area. I'm considering bringing in an expert on this for our crime panel or to give a talk at CSI Portsmouth 2012. So if it is something you are interested in look out for more information on this next year.

CSI Portsmouth 2012 - Saturday 3 November 2012


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