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This morning I took a tour of the Intermountain West Regional Computer Forensics Lab, in Salt Lake City. They just received international accreditation, and have been here for three years.
The recognition basically means that the evidence gathered by and processed at the RCFL can be trusted in court. They met around 400 different standards to show that all the law enforcement agencies working there at the lab are on the right level of professionalism.
They say they've seen a 10 to 20 percent increase every year since the late 80s of digital evidence involved in crimes. We're not just talking about child pornography here (although they told me that's probably 60 percent of their cases right now). Murder, terrorism, fraud, id theft and more all involve some type of forensic evidence. Even a case where a man was hit by a baseball bat and dragged away involved forensics -- they analyzed the GPS unit on the suspect's car to prove in court he was there at the time.
On the tour I was fascinated by the amount of work the officers and agents do to make sure they are processing all the data correctly. Not only do they need to know computer science, they also need to know forensics, and have to testify in court. I said to one, "It's kind of like the Geek Squad meets James Bond meets Law and Order." He laughed. I wasn't calling him a geek or a spy! It's just really cool.