Low Cost Crime Scene Digital Evidence Gatherer

Lero researchers at University College Dublin (UCD) have developed a low-cost device to help police forces in developing nations or with limited budgets capture digital and computer data at crime scenes. The research team, led by Dr. Pavel Gladyshev at the Digital Forensics Investigation Research Laboratory (DigitalFIRE) based at UCD’s School of Computer Science and Informatics, is part of Lero, the Irish Software Engineering Research Centre.

“Digital data at actual or suspected crime scenes has an increasingly important role to play in building evidence against criminals or terrorists. Our device helps law enforcement agencies access and copy data on hard discs at a fraction of the cost of commercial systems,” commented Gladyshev, head of DigitalFIRE at University College Dublin.
A Lero researcher at UCD, Lee Tobin, added: “At one time, fighting cybercrime was the sole preserve of specialist police squads but it has now become routine for regional and district police squads to become involved in the detection and analysis of this type of crime. But funding has not kept up with this development.”
Gladyshev, who serves on the INTERPOL steering committee on IT Crime, added: “Our new device FIREBrick, which is an open source alternative to commercial hardware write blockers and disk imagers, can be assembled from off the shelf mass produced components with just a screwdriver for a total cost of around $199 whereas a commercial system could cost up to ten times this amount.”

Lero researchers at UCD (from left) Lee Tobin with Dr Pavel Gladyshev at the Digital Forensics Investigation Research Laboratory (DigitalFIRE).

Dr Mike Hinchey, director of Lero - which is funded by Science Foundation Ireland - added that the rise of cloud computing and mobile had increased the complexity in tracking evidence and cybercrime. “This new low cost device will increase the capabilities of law enforcement agencies globally to track breaches of security and help to deter further attacks.”
FIREBrick is an easy to use modular platform which allows law enforcement departments to implement an evidence pre-processing solution. Features include autonomous disk imaging at speeds of up to 5 GB per minute with storage mirroring and encryption and free open source firmware.
Gladyshev, who holds a PhD in Digital Forensics, has been working with law enforcement since 1998. While completing his PhD at UCD, he helped to design the first training course in cybercrime investigation for An Garda Siochana. He directs the MSc programme in Digital Investigation and Forensic Computing at UCD. His current research interests include forensic analysis of IT cloud environments. 
Lero, the Irish Software Engineering Research Centre (www.lero.ie), is a global leader in software engineering research. It brings together researchers in the University of Limerick, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, Dublin City University, NUI Galway, and Dundalk Institute of Technology and is funded by Science Foundation Ireland and other Irish and international funding agencies.
Further information on FIREBrick is available here <http://dfire.ucd.ie>.


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