New NIST Forensic Tests Help Ensure High-Quality Copies of Digital Evidence

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Data found on a suspect’s computer, cell phone or tablet can prove to be crucial evidence in a legal case. A new set of software tools developed at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) aims to make sure this digital evidence will hold up in court.

The software suite, referred to collectively as federated testing tools, is designed to help law enforcement and forensic practitioners with a critical early step in evidence collection: making a copy of the data from a seized electronic device. Because a suspect’s guilt or innocence can hang in the balance, both the prosecution and the defense must agree that the digital forensic process did not introduce any unseen errors into the data, and that the methods they are using work as expected.

Extracting and copying data is a risky process because of the rapidly shifting digital landscape that we and our devices…

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