Group centers on digital forensics

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Almost everyone has a cell phone, and if not, a computer. Those common pieces of technology also play a big role in criminal investigations.

One example of that is the Brendt Christensen case. That’s the man who kidnapped and killed University of Illinois visiting scholar Yingying Zhang. Investigators searched his laptop and phone through what’s called digital forensics.

Today a group met at EnterpriseWorks to talk about different tools you can use to do that type of investigating. It’s basically the analysis of technology like cell phones, laptops, or other devices. They introduced some of the tools people can use to do it.

This group included people from all walks of life, but they’re all interested in digital forensics. That’s because it’s not just for criminal investigations. Accountants and insurance companies can also use it. Experts say the need for the skill is only growing.

“The devices that we’re working with now are all essentially small computers in your pocket, and so we have to use the same techniques that I was trained in using essentially back in college about analyzing computers. We’re doing the same thing with cell phones,” said Champaign Police Forensic Examiner G. David Frye.

One of the challenges with cell phones in particular is their size. Because they’re so small, researchers say it can be hard to get enough data from it to do the investigating they need to do. Police officers also have to be careful when collecting evidence for forensic examination.

People at the group today also got helpful tips about how to do that correctly. Around 80 percent of crimes police investigate involve some kind of device. That could be anything from a computer to cell phone to a network router.

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