Jennifer Leros , NEXYTE Account Executive
May 02, 2024

Beyond the Evidence: Leveraging Decision Intelligence to Drive Better Outcomes in Digital Forensics

What is Digital Forensics?

The evolution of communications technology has resulted in crime scenes often becoming more digital, than physical. In one study from IBM, it was estimated that over 90% of all crime is categorized as having a digital element.  Digital evidence, particularly from mobile phones and computers, plays a pivotal role in the investigation and successful prosecution of various crimes. In fact, it is increasingly becoming the deciding factor. These devices store a wealth of crucial information and evidence, such as text messages, voice messages, photos, videos, contact lists, call logs, social media posts, geolocation data, and more. The sheer volume of data involved poses significant challenges for investigators, underscoring the importance of digital forensics in modern policing.

The Digital Forensic Data Challenge

Data Volume

One of the most pressing challenges in digital forensics is the sheer volume of data that needs to be analyzed. It has grown exponentially.  Suspects often use multiple mobile phones, and today’s smartphones can hold up to one terabyte of data — 250 times the data volume of the first-generation Apple iPhones introduced in 2007 with 4 megabytes of storage. This data deluge has led to a situation where almost every digital forensic lab is overworked and under-resourced, resulting in backlogs and delays in investigations, a struggle that many of you may be familiar with.

Digital illustration of a hand holding a smartphone, with stylized virus particles originating from the screen, all depicted in blue wireframe on a dark background.

Data Format

Mobile phones are no longer simply telecommunication devices but, rather, could be considered cameras by which we make phone calls. The growing volume of image, video, and audio evidence to be analyzed from a single device can require significant time using manual or traditional techniques.

Siloed Analysis

Several mobile forensic technology companies provide analysis software designed to help investigators examine the files extracted from phones and computers, but these tools tend to be specialized, allowing analysis only of digital artifacts extracted by that company’s tools. In addition, many of these tools are limited in their ability to scale and in their capacity to analyze other types of digital evidence.

Another significant challenge is leveraging extracted data to create holistic profiles within an investigation. Oftentimes, when data is extracted, it is processed in a silo and archived with the case. To gain valuable insights and a comprehensive view of the investigation, analysts and investigators need to be able to correlate that data with other databases and sources, such as social media, criminal records, monitoring center output, and confidential informant reports that an agency may have permission to access.

Resource Constraints

When I meet with law enforcement, public safety, and intelligence agencies, I frequently hear that they feel under-resourced. This includes not having enough trained investigators and analysts and not being equipped with the right technology to help them be more efficient. The need for better technology is not just a desire; it’s a necessity in the digital age. 

The Decision Intelligence Advantage

Decision Intelligence platforms are the next generation of advanced analytics for incorporating digital forensic data into a holistic investigation. Solutions like NEXYTE, from Cognyte, offer significant advantages for law enforcement and intelligence agencies.  

NEXYTE aggregates data from many customer-provided sources beyond the files extracted from mobile devices. It enables investigators and analysts to see a comprehensive picture of all their data in one intuitive platform. 

Regarding image, video, and audio analysis, NEXYTE uses AI and advanced machine learning to cut processing time from days and weeks to just minutes in many cases.  Similarly, NEXYTE can generate transcriptions from audio and video data and even translate them into different languages.

NEXYTE breaks free from siloed investigations, enabling the analysis of data from multiple devices and sources simultaneously. This big data capability allows investigators to tackle current and cold cases, potentially leading to significant breakthroughs. The ability to scale very high volumes of diverse data types and to quickly generate actionable insights to aid decision-making is particularly valuable in challenging investigations like gun crime, serious organized crime, and white-collar crime.

Information sharing, both inter and intra-agency, is often necessary. Officers from different units and agencies can easily collaborate within the platform, sharing findings, insights, and analysis. This collaborative environment accelerates progress and helps uncover crucial evidence.

Utilizing a decision intelligence platform for digital forensic analysis offers a key advantage: the capacity to harness all extracted data, irrespective of format, for entity resolution and the discovery of hidden relationships with other entities.

Summary of the Benefits of Digital Forensics:

  • Huge time savings
  • Automated identification of links between entities
  • Discovery of insights and evidence that might otherwise never be found with traditional and/or manual methods
  • Scalability
  • Collaboration

Driving Better Outcomes

The ability to resolve more cases with fewer resources and drive better outcomes in digital forensics requires skills training, adoption of innovative technology, and effective change management.

With a changing of the guard in law enforcement leadership, a new generation of leaders brings firsthand experience with digital forensics and a strong belief in technology’s power to expedite investigations.

In legacy tools, analysts often spend too much time preparing and formatting data from different sources before they can begin their analysis. By harnessing the power of data fusion and advanced machine learning analytics, decision intelligence platforms like NEXYTE can accelerate and streamline this process, empowering analysts to focus on what matters – uncovering insights.

Learn more about NEXYTE for Law Enforcement.

Let's Empower Decision Intelligence

Jennifer Leros , NEXYTE Account Executive

17+ years supporting state and local law enforcement with cutting-edge technologies, with the last 4 years specializing in the critical field of digital forensics technology.
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