Digital forensics, also known as digital forensic science, is a branch of forensic science encompassing the recovery and investigation of material found in digital devices, often in relation to computer crime.
It involves investigation of electronic devices to find data that can be used to solve a digital crime. With the proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT), a new field in digital forensics has emerged. It is called IoT Forensics.
IoT forensics is a branch of digital forensics which deals with IoT related crimes and includes investigation of the connected devices, the sensors as well as the cloud of data.
The Internet of things (IoT) is the inter-networking of physical devices, vehicles (also referred to as “connected devices” and “smart devices”), buildings, and other items—embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity that enable these objects to collect and exchange data.
Here you are looking at your cameras, home thermostats, Alexa voices, wearable etc for signatures which can be used to solve crimes. The fact is that the ubiquitous nature of these devices present crime investigators with things they need to solve crime. It is already happening in America as reported recently where law enforcement went for these IoT systems to help investigate crime.
Inside, detectives discovered a bevy of “smart home” devices, including a Nest thermostat, a Honeywell alarm system, a wireless weather monitoring system and an Amazon Echo. Police seized the Echo and served a warrant to Amazon, noting in the affidavit there was “reason to believe that Amazon.com is in possession of records related to a homicide investigation being conducted by the Bentonville Police Department.”
Globally, there is a huge demand for ToT Digital Forensics Investigators. There is also a huge gap between demand and skilled resources available. This is an emerging field as it goes beyond just electronics to understanding AI, cloud computing and more.
Use of IoT Forensics in Crime Investigation
IoT results in interconnection of devices leading to these becoming smart. In case a crime occurs, say from a corporate set-up/organisation, investigators can easily mine data from all connected devices. This is becoming critical as data from our home sensors can be used to prosecute us, depending on the legal jurisdictions and privacy laws in that area.
Computer documents, emails, text and instant messages, transactions, images and Internet histories are examples of information that can be gathered from electronic devices and used very effectively as evidence. For example, mobile devices use online-based based backup systems, also known as the “cloud”, that provide forensic investigators with access to text messages and pictures taken from a particular phone. These systems keep an average of 1,000–1,500 or more of the last text messages sent to and received from that phone
Data, thus mined, can then be studied and analysed for user patterns and behaviour. Even minute aspects such as the data & time, location and even the IP address of an IoT connected device can be traced. This is at the device level itself, the data on cloud can also then be mined to validate data at the device level, and therefore a match can be obtained.
This will change crime and transform the world of criminal investigations. People through IoT will simply provide all the data prosecutors need to nail them in courts.
Crime Prevention with IoT
With smart sensors and IoT components, we can have a system that can respond quickly to any incident. These sensors can also immediately alert the concerned law authorities without the aid of a human to do so. In fact, this has been a trend from a long time in the western economies. This means that IoT can also do a good of good even as we surrender our privacy to it.
These tools will help identify and predict where security vulnerabilities can occur and help fix them. By picking data across different platforms including social media and news website, the tools will provide law enforcement the tools they need to efficiently and effectively deliver their services.
IoT will drive Predictive Policing where the Police may be steps ahead of bag people.
Predictive policing tries to harness the power of information, geospatial technologies and evidence-based intervention models to reduce crime and improve public safety. This two-pronged approach — applying advanced analytics to various data sets, in conjunction with intervention models — can move law enforcement from reacting to crimes into the realm of predicting what and where something is likely to happen and deploying resources accordingly.
The future will be driven by data. And data will be very critical and fundamental in commerce and industry. Everything we will do will be driven by data. IoT will be the engine that will drive this collection of data. Digital forensics must evolve as IoT emerges with new promises. For the users, they have to understand that there is no promise of privacy because as more things move into platforms, law enforcement can have any data they want about you at any time.