UK police force becomes first to deploy new digital forensics solution

Thanks to increased use of computers and mobile phones almost every crime now has some form of digital element. This has put a strain on the police's ability to investigate effectively and inevitably led to delays.

West Midlands Police in the UK has become the first to deploy a new cloud-based digital forensic solution from Exterro which allows greater collaboration between officers and means cases can be worked on remotely and resolved at greater speed.

Exterro has worked with Microsoft to develop a leading-edge cloud-based digital forensics and incident response (DFIR) solution. This sees Exterro's FTK Central platform housed in Microsoft Azure, enabling the collection, processing and review of extremely large volumes of data at speed, whilst also centralizing access and thereby allowing officers and investigators to work collaboratively.

"Ten years ago, 25 percent of the crimes that were coming into policing would have had some form of digital element. Now over 90 percent of crimes have digital elements, either they're computers, mobile phones, routers, IoT devices or CCTV, for example,” says Detective Sergeant John Price of West Midlands Police. "Storage sizes on devices haven't just stayed static over those 10 years either. This creates a massive issue for policing from the fact that we've got to hold this data and ethically review it."

Exterro's FTK Central solution allows WMP's officers to process and validate large amounts of different data quickly, and at scale. It offers processing ten times faster than that of other solutions as well as innovative forensic and legal review workflows delivered via a single collaborative, web-based tool that gives users a real-time view into their assigned cases. As the solution requires minimal training, this has enabled WMP's front line officers to work with forensic reviewers, examiners, and investigators to collect, process, and review key case-evidence.

Harsh Behl, director of product management at Exterro, says, "The WMP project has demonstrated the speed, scalability and flexibility afforded by a cloud-based DFIR platform and we are confident that this project will provide other police forces with a blueprint on how to move from a hardware based evidential process to one located in the cloud. The success of this deployment may well determine the future of digital forensics and see processes for police forces and digital investigators change dramatically."

It's hoped that using the DFIR platform will help pave the way for establishing national standards for digital forensics, improving exchange of information between police forces. "There's complete standardization coming down the line," adds Price. "What we would love to see is some some rules on governance, a lot of forces are told it's a cloud first strategy, but don't try and reinvent the wheel to try and go it alone is the practice of West Midlands or any other force. It's definitely great that we share that because it saves a lot of time and effort when we're all on the same journey."

You can find out more on the Exterro site.

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