Archive for February, 2016

The Achilles Heel of CCTV Equipment

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

There’s a huge growth in CCTV equipment in the UK, and a recent study by the BBC claimed that in 2015 there were between some 4 – 5.9 million cameras in the UK. As this article is now over a year old there’s a very high chance that this number has increased.

Whilst there is much public debate that surrounds the ethical and moral use of CCTV cameras and their capture of actions by people unaware they are being filmed, it is of interest to note that there is practically zero debate about how vulnerable to data stored by CCTV actually is. To understand this issue we need to look at the basic hardware components of any CCTV system, or to be more accurate, just one of them: the hard disk drive.

Inside a hard diskVery much like the computer you have at home, the data captured by a CCTV recorder is stored onto a computer hard drive, and it’s here where the Achilles Heel can be found. The hard drive is a fragile device. One knock or blow can cost a user their data. Hard drives should be sold with a “Handle With Care” label. The reason why hard drives are so brittle is because they are based on an old technology that is based around moving parts. Central to a hard drive is a rotating magnetic disk or “platter”. This is coated in a magnetic film which is able to store billions of electronic signals that represent either a ‘0’ or a ‘1’. Images are written to the hard drive as a series of zeros and ones by another moving part: an arm that moves back and forth across the surface of the hard write, writing and reading the data.

It’s these moving parts that are extremely fragile, but there are many other faults a hard disk can suffer from that will also result in the images recorded being lost. Once the hard disk is damaged it requires experts in recovering CCTV images to repair the hard drive and get the images back. Although these companies are highly skilled, it’s not guaranteed that they will be able to rescue the images from a damaged or broken CCTV system. It very much depends on the fault.

So if hard drives have this Achilles’ Heel are so fragile and so prone to breakage, why use them in CCTV recorders? Hard drives do actually have a lot of positives in their favour. They are cheap, they store a lot of data, they don’t use much power and are therefore cheap to run. But most of all in these days of mass surveillance, they are the only option.

Starting A Business in Digital Forensics – Part 3

Sunday, February 7th, 2016

Here’s the final part of the article about setting up a digital forensics lab. For the first part of the article, and here for the second part.

Product, Customers, Markets, Channels, Brand and Pricing for Digital Forensics:

A Description of What Digital Forensics Does

Computer Investigations
As digital devices become more ubiquitous and integrated into ever more aspects of daily business, academia, and individuals personal lives, so has their use as a tool and as a source of evidence in criminal investigations. Law-enforcement agencies must now consider the role a digital device may play in every type of crime, from murder and drug deals, to blackmail and paedophilia. The digital device may be used as a tool in the perpetration of the crime or just as a repository for information related to the crime. Law enforcement officials do not have he expertise in sufficient quantity to conduct the required investigations, using their own resources and implementing all of the digital devices and systems necessary. As a result, in many locations, a serious backlog of cases has developed. The services offered by the forensics lab would allow us to be seen by law enforcement agencies as a trusted organisation that they could outsource part of their investigations to.

The Need for a Digital Forensics Service
The sheer volume of digital forensics work that has arisen, partially due to th spread in the use of digital devices, and partially as a result of law enforcement and commercial operations to address computer crime issues, has resulted in law enforcement computer crime units being overwhelmed by the volume of work. The time required to train new staff, and the salaries available for public servants, ensure that the supply of trained staff for law enforcement agencies will always be less than the demand for their services.

Target customers will, initially be taken from local law enforcement, government departments, and commercial organisations. As the service becomes established, we will expand this to other law enforcement regions and then to local and central government departments.

We will initially target the law enforcement community in the London and southeast portions of the United Kingdom. When the customer base is established, other law enforcement bodies will be targeted and then eventually the government market, banking, and financial services market, health care market, manufacturing and retail market, and telecommunication markets.

Research conducted with local law enforcement agencies and feedback from practitioners attending local seminars has demonstrated there is an unprecedented level of interest in the proposed service.