Gary Audin
Gary Audin is the President of Delphi, Inc. He has more than 40 years of computer, communications and security...
Read Full Bio >>

Gary Audin | January 30, 2014 |


Collecting Internet Evidence, Part 2

Collecting Internet Evidence, Part 2 Cloud services, social media, and other developments create their own sets of issues when pursuing Internet-based criminals.

Cloud services, social media, and other developments create their own sets of issues when pursuing Internet-based criminals.

Cybercrime is among the fastest growing types of illegal behavior, as more offenders seek to exploit the speed, convenience, and anonymity that the Internet provides to commit a diverse range of illegal activities.

Collecting information to pursue Internet attackers is part of the IT security staff's function. Knowing how to collect and use the information is a growing concern, with many new personnel entering the field. Todd Shipley and Art Bowker co-authored "Investigating Internet Crimes: An Introduction to Solving Crimes in Cyberspace," which was just released this December. I contacted Todd to interview him about collecting Internet evidence, and this blog post is the second part of that interview. (See here if you missed Part 1.)

What are the differences in these investigations between an enterprise-owned environment and the same services offered in a cloud? Todd Shipley: From an investigative point of view, it is all about access and control of the data. If the investigator can access the network or the contracted cloud services, he has greater control over the outcome of the data and the ability to collect the data in its original form.

We often cannot collect original data from a server, unless it is downloadable such as a photograph or document. Any data interpreted by a browser is just that, a representation of the data sent to your computer that is then interpreted and displayed to you by that specific browser. Wholly owned data in control of the enterprise can be accessed and collected forensically. Browser-based data on a server cannot be collected through the Internet in the same manner.

Are there different issues when investigating social media?
TS: There are definitely issues when collecting social media data. It's not just the existence of the visual representation of the data; it is that the data is in motion and that the data can constantly change.

Additionally, depending on the social media site, there is more data than the simple post made by the target. There can be other "meta-data," [a term] which describes other information found in the social media posts. Even on some of the image sharing sites, the original images' "meta-data," referred to as Exif (Exchangeable image file format) data, can be collected. This can include even the latitude and longitude of where an image was taken if the smartphone camera uses that capability. Sometimes this data can also be obtained with legal processes on the Internet Service Provider.

How does information collection help or limit the prosecution of criminals?
TS: I think in today's connected world, almost everyone has a smartphone of some type. This allows us, along with our laptops and desktop computers, to stay connected 24/7. Add the near-constant use of social media and you have a recipe for huge amounts of information to be collected. The National Security Agency (NSA) has been criticized for its use of this data, but the fact is that every user freely offers the information up to these sites, and even a large percentage is publically available.

From an investigative point of view, this is a huge source of information that can be translated into actionable intelligence if timely, or uniquely specific historical data for time can tie a person to an event. All of this data, either publically available or contained on a service provider's network, obtainable by legal service (search warrant, subpoena, etc.), can and is being used daily in investigations and prosecutions.

The problem investigators have is that most are not looking for the evidence hidden in plain sight on the Internet. I coined the phrase "Make the Internet your regular beat" years ago in an attempt to raise awareness about the Internet's investigative potential. Whether it is direct investigation of an incident in a chat room, or the collection and identification of intelligence on a case, the Internet will in almost every case have some informational value to the investigator.

How do forensic investigators protect themselves while performing investigations?
TS: Digital officer safety is a great consideration for the Internet investigator. Working on the Internet can cause considerable damage to agency or company computers if due consideration is not taken prior to going online.

A segregated computer is the best start to considering the threats posed by Internet-based investigations. Art Bowker and I detail in our new book how investigators should prepare their system prior to actually starting an investigation. Some of the tips include adding a firewall to their system, ensuring up-to-date anti-virus programs are running, and numerous other thoughts on protecting the officer during the investigative process.

I am sure there are tools to help. Are there free tools? Can you provide examples of tools that are for purchase?
TS: Free tools for collecting evidence can include anything that can document the data observed by the investigator. Old school chat investigations were just a video camera over the shoulder of the investigator recording his chat with the suspect. Today, there are many free video recording and snapshot programs available for this purpose.

As for purchasing tools, a longtime favorite in the evidence collection field has been TechSmith's SnagIt and Camtasia. There is our own product WebCase that was designed from the ground up as an Internet evidence collection tool and holds the only U.S. patent for collecting Internet data as evidence.

There are other considerations for tools such as Hashing tools to uniquely fingerprint the collected data. Hashing tools can be found as freeware too. WebCase has the Hashing of collected data built into the suite of tools.

Would you describe your recently published book and how it addresses these issues?
TS: Our book was designed to provide that fundamental knowledge, including how to properly collect and document online evidence, trace IP addresses, and work undercover.

* It helps by providing step-by-step instructions on how to investigate Internet crimes.
* It covers how software tools can assist during their Internet investigations with the collection and documentation of online data.
* We discuss how to track down, interpret, and understand Internet electronic evidence to the benefit of an investigation.
* We also detail guidelines for collecting and documenting online evidence that can be successfully presented in court.


Todd G. Shipley has more than 25 years of experience in law enforcement: from investigating financial and computer crimes to overseeing the training of high-tech crimes investigators. Between 2004 and 2007, he was the Director of Systems Security and High Tech Crime Prevention Training--and manager of the National Criminal Justice Computer Laboratory and Training Center--for SEARCH, The National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics.


March 7, 2018

Video collaboration is experiencing significant change and innovation-how can your enterprise take advantage? In this webinar, leading industry analyst Ira Weinstein will present detailed analysis

February 21, 2018

Business agility has become the strongest driver for enterprises to begin migrating their communications to the cloud-and its a benefit that enterprises are already realizing. To gain this benefit

February 7, 2018

Enterprises are starting to grasp the critical importance of security and compliance in their team collaboration deployments. And once the risks are mitigated, your enterprise can integrate these n

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.