Purdue workshop teaches officers high-tech tips to fight crime
Dan Kepler of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department gets some pointers on mobile devices from Rick Mislan, assistant professor of computer and information technology. (Purdue University photo/Andrew Hancock)
Seventeen law-enforcement officers, mainly from Indiana but from as far away as Canada, attended the Digital Evidence Triage workshop at Purdue May 5-7.
Marcus Rogers, a professor of computer and information technology, led the workshop, which focused on teaching investigators the latest ways to extract information from digital devices, such as computer hard drives, cell phones, Blackberries, and other electronic equipment. Rogers says that nearly all crimes today have a digital component, making it vital that law enforcement officers become educated in how criminals are using technology to hide evidence or commit crimes.
Rogers, along with graduate students in the department, led sessions on how to disassemble a computer hard drive and extract information without tainting evidence; how to find hidden data and images on devices; e-mail forensics; how criminals are using social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace; and a primer on digital forensics in Macintosh computers.
Officers in attendance said they were glad Purdue offered the workshop.
Deven Hostetler, a detective with the Indiana State Police (ISP) in Fort Wayne, said he attended the workshop because he didn't have much background in digital forensics and the Indiana State Police wants to train more officers to work with digital evidence.
"Not many in ISP are doing anything in this area, so I'm here to learn," he said.
Another attendee — Melissa Heaps, a detective with the Lake County Sheriff's Department — has some familiarity with the subject through her job specializing in Internet safety for children, but she attended the Purdue workshop to learn more specific technical information.
"I will be assisting the jurisdiction with the collection of digital forensic evidence in the future, so this workshop is useful for me," she said.
Purdue leads about five such workshops a year for law enforcement, some of them conducted in locations around the nation. Faculty in the department frequently answer questions from investigators around the world seeking information on how to extract criminal evidence from digital devices.
Read more about Purdue's work in cyberforensics.