February 28, 2007 8:07 AM PST

Cybercops drowning in data

ARLINGTON, Va.--Cyberinvestigators are nearly drowning in the massive amounts of digital data seized from criminal suspects, a government official said Wednesday.

As digital evidence increases in importance, authorities seize anything that can hold data. This includes computers, CDs, USB keys, MP3 players, cell phones and game consoles, Jim Christy, a director of the U.S. Department of Defense Cyber Crime Center, said in a presentation at the Black Hat DC Briefings & Training event here.

Jim Christy Jim Christy

"This is everything that you got and gave for Christmas," Christy said. In one case, investigators found child pornography on a modified Xbox, he said. "The challenge is that with digital proliferation, the data volume is tremendous these days."

A single terabyte of data equals about 8,333 old-fashioned, five-drawer file cabinets filled with papers. "That's an awful lot for an examiner to go through," Christy said.

Digital evidence can answer key questions in a legal case, but efficient tools to sift through massive amounts of data don't exist today, Christy said. "I want to call out to the industry to create tools to help us investigate large volumes of data in a forensic manner," he said.

Cybercrime investigators need more tools because they are stretched thin. There are only about a dozen accredited digital-forensics labs in the United States. While it may appear differently on popular TV police dramas, digital evidence is used in many more cases than DNA analysis, for example, which appears in only 1 percent of U.S. criminal cases, Christy said.

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4 comments

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Criminal secrets hidden on toys.
It's pretty amazing to think about how many data storage devices are in the average home. It's extremely reasonable to take in all this information as the article states people who have something to hide will always take as much precautions as possible to keep it secret.

Its hard to fathom how much evidence can be held on a single sd memory card.
Posted by MD525 (22 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Re: Criminal secrets hidden on toys.
Yea, it is pretty amazing. It's too bad it takes the good guys so long to find all the garbage on the things.

I'd have never suspected people would hide illegal data on game consoles.

Charles R. Whealton
Charles Whealton @ pleasedontspam.com
Posted by chuck_whealton (521 comments )
Link Flag
Criminal secrets hidden on toys.
It's pretty amazing to think about how many data storage devices are in the average home. It's extremely reasonable to take in all this information as the article states people who have something to hide will always take as much precautions as possible to keep it secret.

Its hard to fathom how much evidence can be held on a single sd memory card.
Posted by MD525 (22 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Re: Criminal secrets hidden on toys.
Yea, it is pretty amazing. It's too bad it takes the good guys so long to find all the garbage on the things.

I'd have never suspected people would hide illegal data on game consoles.

Charles R. Whealton
Charles Whealton @ pleasedontspam.com
Posted by chuck_whealton (521 comments )
Link Flag
 

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