Policing is no easy task. Police officers working on cases of all sorts are pressured with the responsibility of data collection and analyzing from various sources.
Police departments also hold the liberty of demanding data from sources such as private CCTVs, websites and online databases, medical and legal records, and other resources, based off a warrant or suspicion; a topic upon which Signal shed light as they spoke on how far law enforcement will go for information collection.
This may vary to a certain extent based off differences in regional laws, but in general it is an established fact that the police have access to collect from most data resources around.
But now the question that comes into play is about data security. How secure is data in the hands of the police? And what measures are taken to keep police data secure from potential incoming threats?
This is what we are about to entail in this blog, so read on to know more!
What Purpose Does Data Collection Serve For The Police?
Police forces today make use of data from each possible relevant source to a criminal case to determine if a suspect is to be arrested and detained.
Each bit of data collected serves as a piece of evidence for that particular case. Evidence, which in our case of consideration is digital, must be protected from any form of tampering and modification.
In order for it to be it permissible to be admitted in court and other legal proceedings, the evidence must be retained it in its original, unaltered state.
Learn more on 5 Tips On How To Present Evidence In Court
How To Secure Police Data To Retain Evidence Integrity?
In order to retain such originality, the evidence data must be kept secure with measures protecting it from internal and external threats.
For physical evidence, physical security measures are the only option to go for, with retention measures specific to the nature of the article of evidence, such as to retain food or perishables.
However, digital evidence, being an intangible resource stored on both physical storage mediums and online on the cloud, calls for a different set of parameters to be taken to prevent it from being spoliated or rendered inadmissible for legal proceedings.
Here’s our take on How To Prevent Evidence Spoliation Using A DEMS Tool
What Are The Best Practices & Measures Enforced To Secure Police Data Digitally
Digital evidence, like any other form of digital data, exists as an intangible form of information stored on a local storage medium on-premises, or online on a cloud-based provider’s remote server.
The choice of storage and deployment varies based upon the organization’s use case and other factors. Often, law enforcement does not prefer deploying over the cloud but rather go for keeping data within their own datacenters.
Regardless of where it is stored, the data needs to be secured. Certain measures need to be taken that offer security for any form of digital data but are obligatory when it comes down to dealing with confidential information such as digital evidence.
There are several legal compliances in place that regulate matters such as protection of digital information, its privacy, admissibility, withholding, and permissibility to share.
Notable names include GDPR, the CJIS, the CRoC, FedRAMP, HIPAA, FOIA and others.
These compliances help in fulfilling the rights of citizens as well as act as a source of maintaining police integrity and moral authority of individuals.
Complying with the clauses of these legal compliances often secures the data in many ways, as these compliances often impose mandating upon elements such as PII redaction.
Learn more about compliances on our article concerning the relationship between Police and GDPR, along with several others that you may find on our blog site.
Hashing of data is one of the most important countermeasures taken to prevent data manipulation and corruption, and to prevent such occurrences from going undetected. A hash function turns a value of understandable information into its corresponding hash value.
The benefit of using hash functions to secure information is that if information is tampered with, the value can be used to trace back the data and detect tampering. This proves to be especially useful with data such as digital evidence where integrity plays a key role.
SHA (Secure Hashing Algorithm) is one of the most used hash functions, of which SHA-3 is the most secure. Other alternatives include SM3, MD5, BLAKE2, and Whirlpool.
SHA-3, or SHA-2 being the bare minimum, is the norm for all solution providers for law enforcement to secure police data and other information.
Encryption is one of the primary shields against data theft. Encrypted data proves to be useless without the right cipher to decrypt it. Encrypted data, or cipher text, is of no use until it is converted back into its original form using a cipher key.
Several encryption methods exist, including the simplest Caesar’s cipher to the 256-bit AES cipher.
AES-256 cipher encryption provides optimal security for data, which explains why it is the ideal choice of today for data encryption requirements in most domains, such as law enforcement.
Redaction is a core necessity presented by several legal compliances. This is because it ensures data protection of individuals that are not involved in an incident to be excluded from proceedings.
Redaction of faces and other PII data allows police officers to securely share data with public bodies such as courts and the press.
Here’s our Detailed Guide on Redaction to help you understand it better.
Without redaction, public disclosure of PII information and other confidential critical information can lead to severe consequences, such as lawsuits.
Learn more about How To Prevent Inadequate Digital Evidence Disclosure
Consider case files of higher profiles and confidentiality, such as those involving government bodies, influential individuals, or minors. Such cases and their contents are not open to access for all police officers, except for higher authorities of the department and law enforcement directly involved in a case.
Thus, for a system to segregate data amongst the individuals using it, the system must allow the user to take certain measures. For instance, user roles should be distinctively defined to allow access restriction to files based on these roles.
Portal based segregation of data also paves way for easier segregation of case files and data between multiple departments of an organization.
When sharing files, such as videos for court proceedings, access restriction can be established through multiple sharing controls, such as passwords for shared content and restriction of access of content to be limited to the recipient only.
Let our Ultimate Guide To Giving Evidence Via Video Link assist you further
These are some of the primary measures than can deter most of the security threats posed to police data. However, independent implementation of each can be a hassle for police forces.
What you need is a common denominator – a solution that provides you with all these as features and more!
The Panacea For Secure Police Data – A Digital Evidence Management System
An ideally capable digital evidence management solution will be a police department’s ticket to keeping their data safe and secure from threats all around.
The digital evidence management solution will be compliant of necessary legal requirements needed throughout the evidence life cycle to maintain its integrity and admissibility.
The solution will assist law enforcers in:
- Ingesting digital evidence from multiple sources
- Storing it on a medium of choice based off the deployment option chosen
- Management of the evidence, such as segregation into allocated case folders
- Provision of meta data for evidence tagging and better searches
- Allow evidence to undergo processes such as redaction
- Secure evidence with measures implemented to prevent cyberattacks and other threats on the system
- Allow the user to share the data seamlessly and securely with the necessary contingency measures implemented
Are there several evidence management systems in the market today? Yes, definitely there are. But do all evidence management systems offer all of the aforementioned, and more? Probably not.
You’re free to do your market research, but we’ll save you the time and bring you the evidence management system that brings the complete package and more – VIDIZMO Digital Evidence Management System.
What Does VIDIZMO’s Digital Evidence Management System Have To Offer To Secure Police Data?
With the multitude of features VIDIZMO DEMS has to offer, each catered to fulfill requirements and solve problems presented by individuals dealing with digital evidence, such as police officers, agencies, digital forensics, and others, VIDIZMO DEMS is ideally capable of providing a complete solution regarding the digital evidence lifecycle.
Concerning the measures discussed earlier to secure police data, VIDIZMO DEMS offers a feature (or set of features) relevant to fulfill each of the requirements presented. Let’s entail each to have a better understanding of what VIDIZMO offers:
- VIDIZMO DEMS provides compliance to the legal requirements presented by the GDPR, FedRAMP, CJIS, CRoC, HIPAA, FOIA, ADA Section 508, ITAR, EAR, and others, directly or through project hosts and other means.
- For tamper detection, VIDIZMO DEMS incorporates SHA-3 hash function as a countermeasure for tampering of files stored on the system. If a file is tampered with internally, the allocated hash value changes from what it originally was at the time of upload and allows the system to mark the file as “tampered".
- In terms of evidence security and encryption, VIDIZMO DEMS has FIPS-compliant AES-256 encryption to secure the evidence in any one of the three states, i.e., evidence at rest, in transit (using TLS 1.2/1.3) and in use. VIDIZMO also offers optional DRM support.
- VIDIZMO is a provider of a complete redaction tool as an integral component of both products, EnterpriseTube and DEMS as well as a standalone tool. The redaction tool is capable of providing AI-powered redaction through automatic detection as well as manual redaction, for faces, people, license plates (ALPR), and other PII information. Automatic and manual redaction can be performed in a single execution as well; a feature not offered by most other redaction providers.
- VIDIZMO DEMS offers multi-tenancy by allowing the user to create multiple portals for organizational segregation within the same system. Separate user roles allow control of access, with managers and administrators acting as supervising bodies. Segregation of data and users into portals prevents users from accessing data restricted to them entirely.
- VIDIZMO DEMS also allows advanced secure evidence sharing options. A user can restrict a shared file to a recipient only, block downloads or further sharing, set an expiration date by tokenizing a link, and much more.
But that’s not all VIDIZMO has to offer in its DEMS solution!
Feel free to explore the complete feature set to learn more of each carefully crafted VIDIZMO feature.
Want to test out the product for yourself? Get our 7-day free trial!