Attorney General Martha Coakley Announces Opening of New State-of-the-Art Computer Forensics Lab
Attorney General's Cyber Crime Division Receives National Award for Exemplary Work in the Field of Computer Forensics
"When we launched our Cyber Crime Initiative, we knew immediately that we needed to enhance our capabilities to better investigate and prosecute cyber crime. Our goal is to provide law enforcement with the necessary tools, training and equipment to combat today's criminals and the crimes they commit," Attorney General Coakley said. "This new lab will allow us to stay up-to-date with today's technological advancements and it will also help us to delve deeper into crimes with a cyber component."
Attorney General Coakley's Office has also recently received an award from the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) for exemplary work performed by the Attorney General's Cyber Crime Division in providing training, investigative support and research to agencies involved in the investigation and prosecution of cyber crimes. Additionally, the 2009 NW3C Member Agency Award for Excellence was awarded to the Attorney General's Cyber Crime Division for adopting NW3C's Identifying and Seizing Electronic Evidence (ISEE) programs and providing instruction through trainings to thousands of Massachusetts law enforcement officers from across the state. The award will be presented to the Attorney General's Cyber Crime Division later this fall during NW3C's Forensic Summit Conference.
Planning for the new lab commenced in the fall of 2008, and physical construction ended in June 2009. The lab was designed to meet the national standards of the U.S. Department of Justice and other federal agencies. At 3,000 square feet, the Attorney General's lab is the largest of its size for any attorney general's office in New England.
Forensic investigators will be able use today's newest technology to extract vital information such as text messages, videos and pictures from a variety of mobile devices. Imaging machines will be used to capture any information that cannot be extracted from a device or hard drive. Police officers will also be trained on how to "bag and tag," using the proper techniques for seizure of evidence from crimes scenes.
Some of the features of the lab were intended to not only protect all of the evidence and data stored in the lab, but to also make the facility cost-effective. The lab houses a climate-controlled training room, capable of detecting when the room is occupied and can adjust the room's temperature accordingly, saving on energy costs. Evidence stored in the lab will be protected by an enhanced security system. The floors of the evidence intake room and the imaging room are "grounded" in order to eliminate static electricity from damaging any digital evidence from being compromised. The lab's space and technical capacity also allows the Attorney General's Office to handle more requests from local police departments and numerous other state agencies for help on some of their investigations.
In May, Attorney General Coakley's Computer Forensics Lab received another award, the 2009 Computer and Enterprise Investigations Conference (CEIC) Excellence in Computer Forensics Award, for its distinction as one of the premier computer forensics labs in country. David Papargiris, Director of the Attorney General's Computer Forensics Lab, accepted the award on behalf of the office.
Since taking office in January 2007, Attorney General Coakley has made prevention and prosecution of cyber crime a priority of her administration. Shortly after taking office, Attorney General Coakley established a dedicated Cyber Crime Division within the office's Criminal Bureau to lead the Attorney General's Cyber Crime Initiative. In late 2007, Attorney General Coakley unveiled "The Massachusetts Strategic Plan for Cyber Crime," designed to help the Commonwealth develop a statewide capacity to prevent, investigate, and prosecute crimes with a cyber component. The plan calls for law enforcement training, enhanced information sharing, the development of common operating procedures and standards, funding for cyber crime programs, and amending current law as it pertains to cyber crime. The plan is available from the Attorney General's website at www.mass.gov/ago.
As part of the Cyber Crime Initiative, the Attorney General's Office holds annual Cyber Crime Initiative Quarterly Meetings, to train and educate local law enforcement on the latest computer forensic investigative techniques. To date, the Attorney General's Office has trained more than 1,000 Massachusetts law enforcement officers and cyber crime experts from across the nation, focusing primarily on the investigation of identity theft. The most recent quarterly meetings addressed the seizure of mobile phones in criminal investigations, and the gathering of information from networked environments. Previous meetings focused on training law enforcement in conducting investigations involving cell phones and other mobile devices; and another prepared "first responders"-those arriving first at a crime scene- on how to gather and secure evidence for investigations with a cyber crime component.