Monday, April 21, 2014

Why your fingerprints may not be unique

This just in from the UK Telegraph, "Fingerprint evidence linking criminals to crime scenes has played a fundamental role in convictions in Britain since the first forensic laboratory was set up in Scotland Yard in 1901.

But the basic assumption that everyone has a unique fingerprint from which they can be quickly identified through a computer database is flawed, an expert has claimed.

Mike Silverman, who introduced the first automated fingerprint detection system to the Metropolitan Police, claims that human error, partial prints and false positives mean that fingerprints evidence is not as reliable as is widely believed.

Nobody has yet proved that fingerprints are unique and families can share elements of the same pattern.

And there are other problems, such as scanning fingerprints of the elderly as their skin loses elasticity and in rare conditions leaves some people with smooth, featureless fingertips.

Mr Silverman, who was the Home Office’s first Forensic Science Regulator, said: “Essentially you can’t prove that no two fingerprints are the same. It’s improbable, but so is winning the lottery, and people do that every week.

“No two fingerprints are ever exactly alike in every detail, even two impressions recorded immediately after each other from the same finger.

“It requires an expert examiner to determine whether a print taken from crime scene and one taken from a subject are likely to have originated from the same finger.”
However there are numerous cases in which innocent people have been wrongly singled out by means of fingerprint evidence."

Continue reading the article by clicking here.

Friday, April 18, 2014

What is enhancement

What is enhancement? According to Anil Jain, in his classic Fundamentals of Digital Image Processing, "in image enhancement, the goal is to accentuate certain image features for subsequent analysis or for image display." Thus, again we see that enhancement and analysis are two distinct processes; enhancement setting you up for a better analysis.

Anil Jain also points out that enhancement algorithms are generally "application-dependent." I might add that some are generally accepted and can be found in most image processing texts. Others, are proprietary and found only in a single program. This is an important point when choosing where and how much to spend on equipment and software - and training (you won't find Adobe's "Shadows and Highlights" in Amped FIVE, but you can replicate the results using a mix of FIVE's filters).

This came up in a conversation with a local LE agency. They have an Adobe based workflow and were looking to modernize and get more training. They've been bombarded with solicitations from the various training vendors. My advice was simple, pick your direction first. Decide on what equipment and software you will have. Then your training choices will be simpler. To be more specific, if you aren't an Ocean Systems customer and do not own an Avid Media Composer, then you'll have trouble seeing the value in the LEVA courses as they are mostly based on the offerings from Avid and Ocean. If you're sticking with Adobe, then the choices are similarly clear and plentiful.

Each software vendor offers training. If you're looking to expand to actual analysis and choose Amped Software or Cognitech, both vendors have training in their product lines wrapped in the LE context. Neither vendor is a feature at the LEVA Lab nor do their products feature into the LEVA Level 1-3 curriculum. So, if you buy from Cognitech, you're better off taking their training first and becoming proficient on your new equipment within your own context before branching out into other training venues that are not specific to your software choices.

But the bottom line, from Anil Jain, enhancement is not analysis.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Jeremiah MacKay Memorial Highway

This week, a stretch of Highway 138 was dedicated as the Jeremiah MacKay Memorial Highway. Detective Jeremiah MacKay was fatally shot in the line of duty February 12, 2013.

May it serve as a monument to his courage, bravery, and ultimate sacrifice to protect our community.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Authentication and Content Analysis of Images

This story has me laughing. "How many books has Jay Carney read? DC mag Photoshops the White House press secretary's bookshelves to fill in the blanks."


How many instances of forgery can you spot in this image? How's this for an overly Photoshopped image?


Wow!!! They even cut the kid's finger off. That's just plain lazy.

Check out the whole article by clicking here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

FIVE now supports around 70% of proprietary formats on the market

Yesterday, Amped Software announced a significant update to FIVE. Here's what's new and improved:

  • Video Loader: if format is not properly decoded, tries to apply the DVR conversion
  • Video Loader: added buttons to panel for DVR conversion
  • Video Writer: fixed rounding error which was not always setting the precise output frame rate
  • Component Separation: additional parameter to extract a specific channel without the need of an additional filter
  • Software protection: corrected bug on systems with multiple Amped dongles (only the first was recognized) [I noticed this when leaving dongles in for FIVE and Authenticate]
  • Filter Settings: on/off button icon changes when toggled
  • DVR Change Container To AVI: improved support for proprietary DVR formats conversion (now supports around 70% of formats on the market)
  • DVR Change Container To AVI: if the input file path is not writable (e.g. DVD) it saves the converted file on the Desktop
  • User Interface: improved Filters panel mouse over behavior to avoid inadvertently change filter group
  • Video decoding: avoid crash for videos that have a frame rate of zero (variable frame rate), setting it to 1 as default.
With the conversion of format being the bulk of my current work, this is huge news. FIVE is a great time saving tool given that you have the proprietary file preserved - and most times the investigator just needs a quick look to see if the video is relevant.

UFED Phone Detective for your Android Phone

This just in from the folks at Cellebrite: "The UFED Phone Detective mobile app is a fast, easy way to view forensic extraction and decoding capabilities, as well as connectivity methods, for any mobile device profile supported by UFED 4PC/Touch/Classic.

Use the UFED Phone Detective mobile app to search vendors and mobile device names. If needed, easily drill down to specific support information, including whether the extraction can bypass the device's lock."

Pretty cool idea. Now you can ditch that crazy spreadsheet.