The world has revolutionized to such a great extent that gigabytes of information can be stored on a device no bigger than a fingernail. Information being digitalized, insinuates the need for protecting and securing any evidence stored on your laptop or computer from cyber fraud.
There's always the possibility that evidence can be accessed by unauthorized individuals and tampered with. This makes evidence inadmissible in court.
Consider the scenario, a person is under investigation and has been brought before the system of justice. All the evidence necessary for this case is stored on your laptop and is key to his or her conviction. However, a point to note is that even ‘appeared’ to be tampered with, is enough for this evidence to be discarded.
Such sensitive data can be lying around with no checks and balances, just waiting to be tampered with or hacked. Controls have to be above par to protect the sanctity of such data and therefore, because of the above-mentioned evidence tempering risks, it’s highly essential to protect and secure your laptop.
When was the information captured, and why? Who recorded it? Who has accessed it since, and what did they do with it? How can we prove that the evidence is original and hasn't been tampered with?
These are the questions that are vital to prove the integrity of evidence in court.
This blog will guide you about different ways to protect and secure evidence that will ensure your evidence admissibility in judiciary proceedings and will also suggest a complete, advance solution for keeping your data secure and intact.
Ways to Secure Your Digitalized Files and Evidence on Your Laptop
The most important yet necessary step for properly securing evidence in a laptop is to prevent people from accessing your data; it is important to set a login password! Make sure to create a password that is hard to guess.
Therefore, don't use your pet names, birth dates, or the name of your spouse, kids, parents, etc. Also, change your password frequently in order to protect and secure the data.
2. Use a Password-Protected Screensaver:
To ensure that unauthorized people do not access your laptop when unattended for few minutes, make sure to set a screensaver password that automatically starts and requires a password. This helps prevent others from accessing or viewing your device when you are not there.
For instance: You find yourself working so hard on one of your cases on your laptop and you really are in the need for a short break, so you get up and go grab yourself a cup of coffee and while you leave your laptop unattended, you do not have a password-protected screen saver.
This is where you are unintentionally giving access to all those unauthorized people to view your data and putting yourself to huge data breech while you are away from your laptop.
Therefore, using a password-protected screensaver will keep your evidence files safe and secure, preventing people from accessing your laptop.
3. Encrypt your Hard Drive:
Setting a password on your laptop is not enough to prevent hackers or unauthorized people from accessing your files. For instance, if your laptop got stolen and an authorized person has a lot of time to access your data.
The attacker can take off the hard drive and read the evidence files stored. To prevent this and to protect your data from getting into the wrong hands, it’s wise to encrypt your hard drive. At times, full disk encryption isn't always considered the best protection.
With access to the drive and plenty of time, an attacker could guess a simple password. To prevent this, you should set a long, difficult password.
Even expert computer users occasionally delete something they should not have deleted or neglect to do a backup of essential files. In case of malfunction or deleting the file mistakenly, all the essential data can be lost, and therefore, you should create a backup for all your data to prevent any loss.
Additionally, a backup can help you retrieve the original file if the working copy is tampered with. You can create a backup on your own laptop where only you will know where the files are kept. However, if the laptop gets stolen, your whole backup will be gone too.
The other option is to create a backup on the cloud that will be accessible to you anywhere and anytime. But do make sure, you choose a secure cloud provider.
5. Audit Trails:
In the judiciary, it is essential to prove the integrity of evidence; and it should be handled correctly with detailed logs as to who accessed it, who modified it and how. If it isn't, the evidence won't be admissible in court and won't stand up against any legal interrogation. This is called a "Chain of Custody" and it assures the court that the evidence is the same as it was obtained from the crime scene. You cannot rely on your operating system (eg. Windows) itself to provide you with such a detailed report.
For instance, when Microsoft Windows operating system reboots, it rewrites every disk on the system and modifies about one hundred sixty files (160) files. Many dates are modified in this startup process, and "who knows what or when" proof might be accidentally destroyed. Because of this overwriting, the evidence stored will be invalid in the court.
Therefore, to keep evidence integrity intact, it is essential to keep track of files. Audit trails will help you to prove the authenticity of evidence as it provides a complete record of who accessed the file, at what time, and it records the sequence of activities or actions performed on the evidence by any user on your laptop.
It's always good to have the logging done by a third party rather than by yourself. There are various software for audit logs, such as Salesforce Setup Audit Trail. This helps provide deep insights into who accessed your file at what time. It can be installed on windows. You can download it from Google.
6. Consult an Expert:
Consult a skilled laptop forensics expert. If you still feel like your data might get modified or laptop is still not secure. It's better to consult an expert that will help you keep the evidence’s integrity intact by suggesting you different methods to protect your laptop.
7. Use a Private Network:
To protect your evidence while using WIFI and prevent internet providers or attackers from tracking your data, it’s better to connect to a private network to stay safe from cyberattacks or anyone that might track your history and modify data on your laptop.
VIDIZMO: A Solution to Help You Secure Evidence?
VIDIZMO understands that evidence is fragile and can be easily tampered with or modified. Therefore, VIDIZMO provides an IDC recognized Digital Evidence Management System, to store, share, and analyze ever-increasing digital evidence collected in order to make it admissible in the court of law. It offers detailed access controls, case management, tamper detection and chain of custody reports.
Proving the integrity of evidence in court is very essential. One single doubt and your whole evidence is considered as inadmissible. So, instead of purchasing an audit logs software, you can use VIDIZMO, which provides a complete centralized solution with detailed information such as who, when, from where the file has been accessed from.
VIDIZMO Digital Evidence Management System also allows you to share files via email or through a link. Files can be password protected, access can be defines, or files could be made available for a limited time or views.
VIDIZMO Digital Evidence Management System generates logs for the chain of custody report and detects tampering with evidence. It also provides RBAC (role-based access control), which means assigning certain permissions to users to prevent unauthorized access.
VIDIZMO allows users to host their data on leading cloud providers such as AWS, Azure, etc. or on-premises or in a hybrid model. It is designed to comply with data regulations such as GDPR, FedRamp, etc.
Besides the features mentioned above, we also offer a disposition policy, AI (Artificial Intelligence) that allows you to search inside files or videos via ASR, OCR, objects, metatags, etc., tamper detection, evidence crime map, integration, redaction, chain of custody and much more.
This blog clearly explains how you can properly protect and secure evidence on your laptop to maintain the integrity of evidence and make it admissible in court in several ways, such as password-protection, audit trails, encryption, using a password-protected screensaver, encrypting your hard drive, backup and consulting an expert.
It also enlightens about a highly secure centralized solution VIDIZMO, that resolves your evidence security and protection issues along with offering customization that will help you build a platform according to your requirements.
 IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Digital Evidence Management Solutions for Law Enforcement 2020 Vendor Assessment, #US44848219e, November 2020