A new technology is changing the way computer-based evidence is identified. Launched in August 2009, Project EVE has enabled the New Zealand Police Force to process evidence from electronic devices far quicker than they had been able to previously.
EVE, which stands for the Environment for Virtualised Evidence, is an automated software system that allows police officers to analyse an electronic device for evidence by creating a clone of it and downloading its data to a network which officers can then search through. The software also enables officers to use a device as the suspect would have whilst still preserving all of the data in its original form.
EVE is a form of ‘forensic triaging’ that has been designed to offer a simple, auditable way for data to be made easily searchable and presentable, without corrupting the original evidence. It offers a form of preliminary analysis and aims to allow routine police officers to get to grips with it after only a few training sessions. This means the police force in New Zealand are now dealing with crimes including online fraud and internet pirating, but also crimes where computers may indirectly hold evidence such as images, far quicker than in the past.
Prior to EVE’s implementation, there was an eighteen month backlog of electronic devices that needed analysing for evidence in the force’s e-Crime Lab (ECL), with around 16,000 devices seized every year. However, with EVE, police officers can now make an instant decision on whether or not the seized data contains relevant evidence, allowing them to prioritise which devices are passed computer forensic experts for complete analysis.
According to recent reports, the success of the software in dealing with e-crime has resulted in enforcement bodies from the United States and Australia opening up discussions with the New Zealand police force on how to implement the system abroad.
With the rates of e-crime growing worldwide, EVE’s development is another example of how the armoury of law enforcement officers is evolving in the fight to remain one step ahead of the criminals that they investigate.