Dell Ships New Ruggedized Notebook for Forensic Evidence Gathering

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2011-03-25 Print this article Print

The Mobile Digital Forensic package is aimed at providing easier and more secure collection and storage of digital evidence at crime scenes or at scientific work sites.

Dell on March 24 started shipping a new ruggedized laptop with special features designed specifically for forensic evidence collection by law enforcement or scientific specialists.

The Mobile Digital Forensic package, based on the company's location-based Digital Forensics product, is aimed at providing easier and more secure collection and storage of digital evidence at crime scenes or at scientific work sites.

The laptop package includes software for speedy analysis of forensic reports following the collection of digital image, document, audio and video files.

The new product runs on Dell's Latitude E6400 XFR rugged laptop, which has been designed for use in rough circumstances and is equipped with SPEKTOR Forensic Intelligence software from Evidence Talks, one of the U.K.'s digital forensic and intelligence-gathering firms, Joe Trickey, Dell's brand manager for digital forensics, told eWEEK.

Dell Brings in Corporate Resources

Trickey said that Dell brought its corporate resources, including virtualization and storage compression software, to help manage storage issues in the XFR.

The XFR features a multi-format card reader, USB key ports, a CD reader, and various collector devices for facilitating the connection of cameras, recorders and other devices.

Dell's original Digital Forensics is a suite of hardware, storage, software and services that centralizes the process of handling seized data, thus increasing the productivity of digital forensic experts with the ultimate goal of improving success rates for solving cases.

"The average investigation takes up 2.2 terabytes of gathered digital information," Trickey said. "This certainly includes video and images, but also emails, text messages, documents-anything related to the case."

For example, in the case of a disappearance of a spouse, law enforcement agents would use the device to collect digital evidence about where the couple might have gone and what they may have done, in addition to photographs, GPS records, email, text messages and phone records, Trickey said.

All that data needs to be stored and indexed, Trickey said. Other use cases for this type of package include research on terrorist activities, tracking down pedophiles and computer system hackers and perpetrators of online fraud.

Trickey admitted that the 2.2TB average amount of data seems high, but he pointed out that this kind of legal evidence cannot be deduplicated for legal reasons. The evidence all must be stored in its raw state-whether there are duplicate copies of files or not.

"You can't change the content; if you do, it wouldn't hold up in a court of law, because you've lost something. It's got to stay in its pristine state and maintain chain of custody," Trickey said.

Tracking Evidence Not an Easy Order

Keeping track of all the evidence in a case has been a longtime problem for forensics people. Trickey said the XFR solves these issues.

"As you can imagine, these kinds of collections tend to pile up in a backlog," Trickey said. "Customers were coming to us and saying, 'This is becoming unmanageable; how can you help us?'"

The new forensics package uses forensics-related applications from AccessData, EMC, Intel, Oracle, Symantec, VEGA and others.

Pricing information is available upon consultation, Trickey said.

Dell's XFR features a multi-format card reader, USB key ports, a CD reader, and various collector devices.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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