On December 2, 2015, a married couple carried out a terrorist attack on a group of San Bernardino County employees gathered in a rented banquet room. The attack left 14 people dead and 22 seriously injured. Following the attack, the couple was pursued by law enforcement and killed after a five-minute gun battle.
At the scene of the massacre, a number of explosive devices were located which lead law enforcement to suspect terrorism as a motive. With their two prime suspects now dead, investigators scrambled to put the pieces together.
In the weeks following the attack, the media’s attention fell on the fact that law enforcement was unable to unlock one of the mobile phones that they had recovered. The Apple iPhone 5C possessed advanced security features and could not be cracked. Apple refused to undermine its own security features and defied a court order to allow access to the phone.
Finally, in March 2016, nearly four months after the attack, the Department of Justice revealed that it had been successful in unlocking the phone.
This incident was the first time I really contemplated the unique challenges that the “digital age” presents to law enforcement. If evidence of a major domestic terrorist attack can be held inaccessible by the federal government for four months, what hope does local law enforcement have?
In speaking with our law enforcement clients, accessing evidence from electronic devices is a major challenge. Police can’t simply confiscate a person’s phone and search it – a Supreme Court ruling in 2014 requires officers obtain a warrant before accessing an electronic device. But even if they get a warrant, a suspect can forget their password or otherwise complicate access.
At this point, many law enforcement agencies don’t have the time, tools, skills, or manpower to “crack the phone”. Potential evidence stays hidden, and justice is diluted.
Well, we think it’s about time law enforcement got some help in this area. We’re pleased to offer ElcomSoft’s suite of digital forensic tools.
ElcomSoft has been around since 1990, and offers a complete range of forensic tools for mobile phones, tablets and computers. We’ve been impressed with the simplicity, effectiveness, and reasonable pricing of their solutions.
If you’re looking to expand your team’s abilities to access and analyze evidence from digital devices, let’s talk about ElcomSoft. Contact us today and let’s discuss your unique needs!