Monday, September 21, 2009

Coakley unveils new cyber-crime lab

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced Tuesday the opening of the agency’s new, state-of-the-art computer forensics lab.

The 3,000-square-foot lab, located in Boston, is part of the AG’s Cyber Crime Initiative, which was launched in 2007 and designed to bolster the state’s ability to prevent, investigate and prosecute cyber crime. The new lab will broaden the office’s forensic capabilities and enable investigators to conduct exams on a variety of digital media including computers, cell phones, laptops, PDAs and GPS systems.

The lab cost $750,000, about $140,000 of which was paid for with grants, according to AG spokeswoman Emily LaGrassa.

In a press release, Coakley lauded the new forensics lab and said it would enable her office to “delve deeper into crimes with a cyber component.” Coakley is a candidate for the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the recent death of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

The Massachusetts AG’s Office recently received an award from the National White Collar Crime Center for the work of the state’s Cyber Crime Division, specifically for training, investigative support and research to agencies involved in the investigation and prosecution of cyber crimes.

Planning for the new lab commenced last fall and construction was complete in June. The facility was designed to meet national standards set by the U.S. Department of Justice and other federal agencies.

Forensic investigators will be able to use the latest technology to extract vital information such as text messages, videos and pictures from a range of mobile devices. Imaging machines will capture information that cannot be extracted from a device or a hard drive.

Police also will be trained on how to “bag and tag” — using the proper techniques for seizure of evidence from crime scenes.

The lab is climate-controlled and can detect when a room is occupied and can adjust the temperature accordingly. 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” to ensure that static electricity does not damage any digital evidence.

With increased lab space and technical capacity, the new lab will be equipped to handle additional requests from local police departments and other state agencies that need assistance in their investigations. To date, the AG’s Office has trained more than 1,000 Massachusetts law enforcement officers and cyber crime experts nationwide, primarily in the area of identity theft.

Boston Biz Journals

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