“Digital forensic technologies enable investigators with first pass analysis.” – Rajkumar Manickam – the Regional Sales Director, South Asia, Exterro.

Jahnavi- In 2021 alone, a total of 60,96,310 cognizable crimes were registered in India. But among major crimes such as murder, rape, kidnapping and abduction, crimes against children, human trafficking, and economic offences, the conviction rates are low and lie anywhere between 20-40% in India. What role does digital forensics play in achieving higher conviction rates?

Rajkumar – In 2021, 65% of criminal cases registered in India were disposed of by the police before they could stand trial. Low conviction rates and the lack of material evidence to register chargesheets often occur due to the lack of forensically sound digital evidence that are admissible in courts. Digital forensics solutions can be a gamechanger in procuring evidence that is admissible in courts. Digital forensic technologies enable investigators with first pass analysis. This helps law enforcement gather the evidence they need and end the analysis, or further refine the investigation. Such tools ensure that critical communication or context don’t go missing during investigations. They enable law enforcement officers to also begin a review of their own evidence and collaborate with one another, that gives them a headstart into whichever case they are investigating. Digital forensics solutions log, index, review and analyze the evidence collected, ensuring their admissibility in courts.

 

Jahnavi- How can digital forensics solutions help clear backlogs in Forensic Science Labs & Law Enforcement Agencies across India?

Rajkumar- Investigations in India are multiplying and diversifying. There will always be more crimes, and new types of cases all the time. Given the increasing number of crimes in India, there are also a large number of backlogs in cases that need investigation. And even when the law enforcement find necessary evidence, these massive backlogs in forensic labs are making it harder to get the necessary convictions. Since 2020, there have been over 800,000 cases pending for analysis across forensic science labs in the country. This is because forensics professionals are confronting much larger data loads, new and more complex information tapped from a growing diversity of sources. As volumes and complexity increase, meeting deadlines is getting harder. Some agencies in India are still using outdated forensic solutions which can’t always provide the kind of performance needed to keep up with the growing investigation load. It also cannot accommodate the evolving nature of managing investigations. What the law enforcement needs is a new solution that is more powerful and flexible that can handle big, diverse data loads faster than existing platforms. New age digital forensics solutions can help investigators with better indexing, higher scalability and agile collection capabilities.

 

Jahnavi- What in your opinion are challenges law enforcement in India face in adopting digital forensics solutions?

Rajkumar -Law enforcement agencies in India need to process thousands of devices every year to collect electronic evidence. There are multiple systems, laptops, mobile phones and processing evidence from each device is a long and arduous task. For instance, while investigating a case, law enforcement personnel will have to process evidence from multiple mobile devices, and laptops. Existing solutions end up creating data silos, where collating and analyzing evidence becomes a complicated process. What Indian law enforcement agencies need are solutions that allow collaboration and the ability to process petabytes of data within minutes. Another challenge that persists is that existing solutions make investigative processes time consuming. For instance, electronic evidence is processed at the police headquarters as jurisdictional police stations always have to go back and forth to identify whether evidence is processed or not. This delays the entire investigation. Current solutions used by some agencies don’t allow for evidence monitoring and or even allow individual stations to process evidence themselves. These agencies need software that works out of the box, is easy to use and enables collaboration between HQ and local stations (or) different branches located elsewhere. Besides, these solutions must also need to have the capacity to source evidence from the cloud and also restore lost or deleted data. With intelligent solutions, law enforcement agencies can overcome existing challenges and speed up investigative processes.

 

Jahnavi- What role does a network of digital forensics experts play in expanding the knowledge base of Indian law enforcement agencies?

Rajkumar -Forensics begins with law enforcement. Most of today's digital forensics experts have some experience in law enforcement or are often retired law enforcement officers. Over the course of their careers, digital forensics experts would have worked on multiple cases and have deep domain knowledge of different types of cases. Similarly, in the private sector, incident responders have extensive experience investigating cybercrimes, breaches, internal investigations, and other issues. Digital forensic experts in the public and private domain are a close-knit community and law enforcement agencies can benefit a lot from being a part of such networks. With Public- private collaboration, forensics experts and incident responders can share knowledge. This enables law enforcement in India to strategize investigative processes better. Besides, insights gained from such intensive knowledge sharing can be used to create better awareness programs for the people. For instance, digital forensic networks can help Indian law enforcement identify new financial fraud trends across the world and create appropriate awareness within India for its people.

 

Jahnavi – How is Exterro helping Indian law enforcement drive real-life impact with its digital forensics solution?

Rajkumar – Exterro solutions are used by law enforcement agencies all across the world. We work with multiple national and state police, and intelligence agencies. We’ve begun collaborating with a number of state police departments in India. Law enforcement agencies in over 28-30 states and union territories are now using Exterro’s solutions. Our products are also used by intelligence agencies and major ministries at the Union and state levels. Exterro’s solutions are currently assisting Indian law enforcement in combating financial crimes, terrorism, violent crimes, national security challenges, and child pornography cases. We have also helped Govt. bodies in other countries to solve their data privacy regulations (eg: GDPR, CPRA, POPIA, PIPL, etc.) and we are looking forward to helping multiple Govt. & Pvt. Indian organizations once the new DPDPB gets implemented.

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