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Criminal Profiling in Digital Forensics

Written by Lucas Donato

As part of a study that emphasizes that human nature leads criminals to commit mistakes and leave cyber trails, this article focuses on the analysis of a computer criminal’s modus operandi and his signatures aspects, suggesting to the reader that traditional investigative techniques can be translated to the digital investigation and effectively provide new ways to extract more from the digital evidences that we see everyday.


Obtaining an IP address or even a username is often useless when we face a public Internet cafe – without cameras or written records – or a workstation compromised by a backdoor or, still, the usage of a pair of stolen credentials. Who is the criminal? In this scenario it becomes essential to review our foundations and to revisit the literature and traditional methods of investigation, in order to allow us to extract more from digital evidence in addition to a cold analysis over bits and bytes.


Crime follows humanity since immemorial times [Innes]. Weapons, tools and techniques used to commit a crime evolve with time, so technology is just one more instrument in this process. Motivations, in turn, continue to be rooted in the human being.


According to [Reik], the – imperfect – human being is confronted with interesting mental conflicts: to proclaim to the world that he was able to commit a crime or to protect himself from any punishments. This conflict, taking place in the deepest levels of our mind, manifests itself in the actions: the criminal will commit mistakes and leave traces. Always.


So, our first question is: Is it possible to consider the aspects above in an attempt to get more from the interpretation of digital evidence? If our answer is “Yes, we should try”, then a serious candidate that deserves our attention to support investigations is criminal profiling. In this article we will explain why. So, let’s try and apply what Agent Starling from Silence of the Lambs or Dr. Reid from the series Criminal Minds did to a computer crime scene?… see issue 5 for the rest of this article - subscribe now!


The full article appears in Issue 5 of Digital Forensics Magazine, published Nov 2010. You must log in with a valid subscription to read on...


 
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