Thursday, August 15, 2013

Digital Forensics – An Exciting Way to Solve Crime

“Stop right there and put your hands where I can see them!”
Think that’s “cool”?

Crime-busting may seem exciting on TV, but most of the real work actually takes place indoors, where evidence is examined. Let’s be honest, the work behind closed doors isn’t that “exciting” or “glamorous”. But that doesn’t mean that it is insignificant, or not exciting.

With hi-tech software and the latest inventions, solving a crime may take only days, especially with the help of a highly skilled team of digital forensics analysts. Did you know that in today’s world, the gadgets that you use, such as mobile phones and cameras, can leave a digital imprint?

Well, I didn’t until I attended an introductory course to Digital Forensics held last Wednesday. The event was part of the Singapore Science Festival 2013 and was conducted by the School of Information Technology (SIT).

The course began with some pictures from the hit television series, CSI (Crime Scene Investigation). It was a good way to introduce the course because most students could relate to some of the technical procedures such as tracing calls and scrutinizing mobile devices. The hour long introductory course was divided into sections like Digital Imaging Sensors and Printers. At the end of each segment, there was a quick question-and answer-session to see how well the concepts explained were understood.

Among all the ideas that were shared, I found the topic of cameras and printers the most intriguing. Unlike paintings and art sculptures, it is more challenging to identify the photographer behind the picture. Each camera has its own lens with a unique pattern of capturing pictures. Programs have been designed to link pictures to the camera used. However, as it is a relatively new technology, it has yet to be presented in the court of law. Even the FBI is still improvising with this technology.

This concept is similar for printers too. When a picture is printed, there is more than meets the eye. The picture actually has yellow spots that are only visible under a special microscopic tool. Like the camera lens, the positions of the spots are exclusive to the printer. With that, a picture can be traced back to the model of the printer, which can then be used to locate the buyer. And voila! You have your person of interest.

It was certainly an informative session for me, and well as many of the secondary school students who attended the talk.  Now, I can’t wait for next year’s Singapore Science Festival!

Here are a couple of tips I took away from the talk:
1. Remember to delete your cookies if you’re on a shared computer.
2. Be careful of what you do with your computer and mobile phones. Once it’s in the system, getting it out can be quite a feat. Deleting it doesn’t mean that it’s gone forever.
3. Emails can sometimes contain viruses. Check the message source if the mail looks dubious.


Khai Woon is a Year 3 student pursuing a diploma in Banking and Financial Services. Watching movies and reading are among some of her hobbies. Above all, she enjoys listening to music and likes writing.  She is also a member of the NYP Symphony Orchestra. She believes life should be unpredictable; because that is the only way it will be exciting.


  1. A digital forensics not only require passing a certain educational standard related to computer alone but also have self taught and learned skill about law enforces.

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