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Practical Techie: Forensic web tools are helpful for investigators  

Forensic science assists the judicial system in determining the precise cause of a criminal offense such as murder, homicide, or kidnapping by collecting dates, time, location, and eventually identifying a perpetrator. It is essentially the scientific analysis of biological or material evidence collected on the scene of a crime to be later submitted to rigorous laboratory testing. Much of the work is still done in forensic labs, but in this digital age, many online tools help hone the results of the findings in a crime scene.  

ACADEMICS — Many universities offer Forensic Sciences degrees that now emphasize on digital research. Basically, students learn competencies in the collection, preservation, and analysis of physical evidence for presentation in legal proceedings. Skills are learned to recognize relevant scientific information, discoverable only through forensic analysis of various types of evidence. Oral, written, and web-based communication regarding the results of investigations are now also emphasized. The core disciplines are toxicology as a branch of chemistry, DNA analysis, plus the wide range of statistics and parameters used in law enforcement settings.  

VIRTUAL — Crimes scenes are becoming ever more virtual because new forms of cybercrime and violence are migrating slowly towards the digital space. Three decades ago it all began with computer attacks, later against he software, then blackmailing, bullying, and racial slurs. Add death threats through social media channels as newer, darker electronic types of crime loom over the cyber horizon such as ransomware, shutdowns of entire computer systems and electrical grids. Conventional warfare has a new front in the digital battle space. Electronic spying, communications jamming, digital sabotage, misinformation, propaganda, and the so-called denial-of-service (DoS) are just a few of the new internet weaponry.

CRIME — Once collecting evidence from crime scenes is accomplished, an entire array of digital strategies come into play in the search for crime suspects. Special archives on web servers not only help investigators store evidence electronically but help make comparisons and catalog specimens already stored from other crimes. Digital metrics help in interpreting such criminal data. Livestream meetings allow detectives and experts coming together from different parts of the world for brainstorming sessions and exchange of clues. Huge crime databases help researchers formulate hypotheses regarding a crime

DoS –  Most Denials of Services attacks occur through Near Field Communications (NFC) technology. NFC has been taking shape during the last six years because ever more powerful and ubiquitous Internet connections allow for targeting unsuspecting victims. We have already seen this happen with phishing scams, fraud, digital theft, and the now infamous ransomware transgressions. NFC devices make it viable for bad people to commit malicious intent through mobile devices seemingly without a trace. But, as NFC technology enables two-way communication between a phone and an electronic tag when the device is brought within five inches there is a digital path. 

A forensic device establishes a short-range network to exchange data using electromagnetic radio fields that is searchable. NFC tags can be read and written as they contain between 96 and 4,096 bytes of storage. This requires at least one transmitting device and another to receive the signal ­–a smartphone is often used as the signal receiver.  

USES — Luckily, the sophisticated tech allows forensic investigators to solve crimes by retracing a suspect’s digital steps throughout the person’s electronic hardware. Also, follow a victim’s last steps to the scene where the crime occurred. As described in Bluebite, the standard functionality of NFC in many mobile phones allows users to perform transactions and move digital content — including telltale threats, intimidations or blackmailing — from culprit to the victim.

An NFC chip in a mobile device can act as a card, a reader, or both, enabling consumer devices to share information and communicate instantly and quickly. Even though NFC may seem lacking in long-distance power given its short range, it is a convenient web connection feature. Examining these connections correctly may help solve a crime.  

Author Details
Author Rafael Matos is a veteran journalist, a professor of digital narratives and university mentor. He may be contacted at cccrafael@gmail.com.

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