In our experience we have found many legal professionals are unsure how digital forensics can assist when it comes to cases; “Is it applicable?” “How do I get it?” “What do I ask for?”
When examining digital devices, any data found or neven the absence of any data sought has a very significant impact on the case and ultimately can determine whether a case is won or lost. Digital Forensic Providers (such as IntaForensics) will conduct a thorough review of potential sources of evidence to support or rebut your client’s, and/or the prosecution’s, evidence in line with the circumstances of the case and the specific instructions received. The potential sources of evidence are:
• Communication (IM/SMS/Email)
• Deleted Files (Documents, Images, Videos)
• Operating System data
• Application based
• Web based
• GPS/Cell-Site Data/Call Data
• Internet/Browsing History
Conducting a thorough review on each of these sources provides the reassurance that should there be any evidence... it will be found.
However, we are aware that it’s difficult for a legal professional when a digital forensics expert is required. Once those quotations are sent off to the LAA, the decision is practically taken out of your hands. But how do you choose the right experts to put forward?
Everyone has their favourite firms who they have dealt with in the past or have approached on the recommendation of a colleague, friend or fellow legal practitioner. However, just in case your preferred firm does not get awarded the opportunity to work with you on your case, it’s always important that you supply the quotations from firms who you know can get the job done, and get it done right.
Here are some friendly pointers on things to consider when choosing a digital forensics provider.
The Digital Forensics industry is incredibly niche and it’s not uncommon for everybody to know everybody. However, some analysts are more experienced than
others, be this through expertise, knowledge, qualification, time in the industry and even their personal background. It’s important if you don’t know the company, you discuss with the provider what expert may be best equipped to deal with your case, how it will be handled and delivered, and a free consultation with the expert prior to instruction.
Some important things to consider:
• Qualifications – BSc, MSc, PhD?
• Experience – Have they had experience of working in a digital forensics unit before, or a commercial lab? Have they been a consultant? How might that experience benefit your case?
• Ad-hoc courses and expertise – Are they trained in courtroom practice by Bond Solon? Or trained in EnCase and EnCE accredited?
We believe a wealth of expertise from various industries and backgrounds is vital to providing the best service for our clients. This allows our staff to acquire a variety of perspectives, knowledge and ideas on how to streamline and make our service even more efficient. We can then grasp what sort of questions may be raised by the CPS in court proceedings and pre-empt these in our reports.
Whilst all legal professionals are busy and don’t have time to travel for hours on end, IntaForensics believe it’s beneficial to:
• Visit one of our premises and have a tour around the laboratory.
• Have a discussion with our experts.
• Look at the forensic tools and software we use, and how we utilise them.
It is important to choose a supplier that has the capabilities to serve you, wherever you may be. This might be through multiple advanced laboratories throughout the UK or by having the best qualified and security vetted delivery and collection services on hand.
All cases have deadlines or timescales attached to them; some are tighter and more pressing than others. Whether a Plea Case Management Hearing, or even a trial, you need a provider who can meet these deadlines with ease and have the expert capability should unexpected circumstances fall upon the assigned
analyst. More specifically, are there multiple experts in the laboratory who are equipped and experienced enough to assist with your case?
IntaForensics spread experts out evenly at all our laboratories, each forensic laboratory has at least:
• A Forensic Services Manager (FSM)
• 2+ Senior Forensic Analysts
• 2+ Forensic Analysts
Being flexible is essential to ensuring your case is completed on time and to a good standard. Make sure your supplier has the capability to achieve both.
Consider ISO 17025:2005 Accreditation
Choose an ISO 17025:2005 accredited provider. As a busy professional working in the fast paced legal environment it’s understandable for you to think that ISO 17025 accreditation has no impact on your operations.
The need for laboratory accreditation affects practicing solicitors, barristers and legal professionals - defence, civil, corporate and/or otherwise. As long as there is a requirement for the acquisition and analysis of not only digital evidence, but also traditional forensic evidence within their cases, then they will be affected.
What is ISO 17025:2005 Accreditation?
ISO 17025 accreditation provides formal recognition of the development of a management system; utilised to control operations in a customer focused manner, it ensures the technical competence of all staff involved in the testing and/or calibration activities, and demonstrates the laboratory’s capability to generate technically valid results.
So how will 17025 affect you as a Legal Professional?
The Forensic Science Regulator (FSR) states that ISO 17025 accreditation needs to be achieved by ALL digital forensic laboratories in the United Kingdom by October 2017 in line with the FSR Codes of Practice and Conduct.
Organisations such as IntaForensics are fully prepared and ready to achieve these strict deadlines, however due to a combination of factors and implications such: as lack of investment, resource, poor best practice and timescales, it is highly likely a number of other UK digital forensic laboratories will not achieve ISO 17025 by October 2017.
This poses a problem to legal professionals. In particular, if the CPS barrister is “industrially aware” about digital forensics they would be able to easily identify whether the expert witness in any given case was or was not ISO 17025 accredited at the time of publishing the report. If after October 2017, you instructed a supplier that was not accredited and presented their findings and report in court, the supplier’s lack of accreditation could present a risk to the integrity of that evidence, potentially undermine the reported findings and face challenge from the court.
So when choosing your Forensic provider, ensure that they are ISO 17025 accredited before instructing.
As well as ISO 17025, there are a number of other accreditations that are aimed specifically at forensic laboratories of all types, for example ISO 27001:2005
and ISO 9001:2008.
BS EN ISO 27001:2005
This accreditation covers information security management both physically and electronically. This monitors and evaluates threats, vulnerabilities and over impact, and ensures that the provider effectively manages these and retains control.
Due to the sensitive nature of cases that solicitors deal with, it’s necessary to make sure the provider can handle and retain effective control over this sensitive
data whilst in their possession and that it is archived or disposed of correctly and accordingly.
BS EN ISO 9001:2008
This is one of the more well-known accreditations, applying to a variety of businesses. ISO 9001 covers quality management systems to ensure that providers can deliver quality services to its stakeholders.
You need to ensure you can choose a provider where a quality and well delivered service is guaranteed, not only to yourself, but also any members of the courts,
CPS or your clients. This is a form of reassurance in knowing that your case will be delivered and handled to the best of the provider’s ability, and will coincide
with any case specific timescales you may have.
Is your preferred or potential provider accredited? If not, are they striving towards accreditation? Because if that’s not the case, think how would this affect your
defence case in court proceedings?
It’s always important to research the digital forensics providers you’re requesting a quotation from. Not only to carry out necessary research but to understand
their ethics and morals. What is their mission statement and strategic and tactical aims?
Is it to provide quality market leading services with their clients aims at their heart? Or, is it to become the biggest, most dominant leader in the market and be m the most profitable.
• Does their mission statement and aims bode well with you?
• Is this what you would look for, and expect from a professional provider?
• Does your sales representative truly understand your case and how this will impact your client?
• Does this person understand how to best serve your unique circumstances in an ethical manner?
Whilst all the above requires some serious consideration one of the most important factors to consider is reputation in the market. What do your colleagues or the barrister at the chambers say about your proposed provider’s service? Have they had experience with this provider before? What have they heard from their colleagues? Have they ever experienced or heard about the service that is provided? Former clients or members outside of the industry will offer a true and honest opinion of the service that has been provided, and be a vital un-biased element in acquiring a true representation and idea on what the provider is like, their professionalism, and how they deliver cases.
Or perhaps most important of all, what have you heard about their reputation already?
IntaForensics Quality Guarantee
IntaForensics provide a quality guaranteed service in line with ISO 9001, 27001 and 17025. We follow our quality assurance reviews on all forensic case submissions, reports and documents created within the company, ensuring that everything we provide to the client is of the highest quality. The Quality Manage-
ment System (QMS) policy is adopted for each case file and follows a predefined check of critical steps in the forensic process. Each step is checked initially by
the lead Analyst for compliance, and then peer assessed prior to submission.
The management of IntaForensics’ service quality is through IntaForensics’ Forensic Case Management Software, Lima. Lima provides a detailed view of case
statistics, service level compliance and organisational resources, as well as being able to manage sales, accounting and operational workflow. This quality driven management system enables IntaForensics to have insight into all hardware, software and staff resources within its operation to ensure the demands of the client are met.
As IntaForensics is BS EN ISO/IEC 27001:2005 accredited, the company can guarantee the information security of its own data and data held on behalf of its clients. We operate a dedicated secure collection and delivery service using our own staffed GPS enabled vehicles, and security cleared drivers. The exhibit collection and delivery service operates a “no stop” service and in all instances, submissions are collected and delivered to the facility in the same day.