Fbi Opens Silicon Valley Lab
The FBI Silicon Valley Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory in Menlo Park will help to solve cases in the Northern California region by collecting evidence from cell phones, PDAs, and personal computers. Electronic devices are increasingly used for criminal activities, but require specialist care when collecting evidence lest prosecutors lose credibility in court due to evidence tampering charges.
Whereas investigators used to simply turn on the device and operate it in order to find material, they now are able to create an image of the stored contents while keeping the device in its original state, says forensic examiner Tim Weaver, who is one of eight specialists initially staffed at the new laboratory.
The facility has equipment to defeat encryption and password protection, and to find information stored on computer hard drives and other media. The laboratory can also train up to 1,000 police officers and detectives annually.
Cases where electronic evidence is needed include terrorism plots, child pornography, theft, fraud, and sometimes harrowing criminal hunts where time is a critical factor.
The FBI computer forensics laboratory in Kansas City, for example, traced email and other messages left on the computer of Bobbie Jo Stinnett in Missouri, who was strangled and had her unborn baby cut from her womb in December. FBI forensic experts were able to lead police to the suspect’s home where they found the baby alive.
The Silicon Valley laboratory has the advantage of being located close to many technology companies’ headquarters so that those firms can be easily consulted if their technology is involved in an investigation.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Scripps Howard News Service (01/07/05); Kim, Ryan .