Digital Forensics crossing into other specialisms

I’ve been working at editing a book review for Issue 3: and what an excellent book it is (the review is pretty good too, I may add). The reviewer could not have praised this book any more than he did and there is good reason for this. Dr John Olsson’s latest book on Forensic Linguistics is a fantastic read and really open up your eyes on what’s possible through the study of words alone. To be able to point the finger at a culprit on nothing more than the phrasing in a fake suicide note takes a lot of skill and experience, but also the understanding of the linguistic formulation of the prose, which is where John’s book really wins, is vital. John has done an article on the role of forensic linguistics in convicting the culprit in the recent terrible events that led to the death of a young girl using Facebook. He discusses the dialogue used between murderer and victim and how, with careful screening, we can discover the motivations of unseen people at the other end of a virtual connection in cyberspace. What intrigues me is the crossover here. SMS, for example, has created the need for a new language and cryptic annotation that is used mostly by teenagers today. When we, the mobile forensic examiners, extract this information, we need to make sense of it to help with the overall investigation. And how can we determine is the suspect is actually the person who sent the incriminating text? This is exactly where Dr Olsson’s skill comes in, and he’s finding himself more and more involved in computer crime investigation. We know that the Forensic Science Regulator in the UK is focusing on integrating digital forensics into the mainstream role of other forensic sciences, which I believe is a great move, allowing a lot tighter collaboration between the various branches of our profession. Dr Olsson shows the benefits in terms of this one case realating to Facebook, but I feel we need to start looking for other such stories in DFM to really show the importance of cross-field collaboration.

Tony Campbell