My rifle is bigger than yours – and it runs Linux

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Yeah, baby!

The Association Francophone des Spécialistes de l’Investigation Numérique (AFSIN) held its annual conference on September 10-12 in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. The JFIN (“Journées Francophones de l’Investigation Numérique”) event is an excellent opportunity to meet and debate with french-speaking forensics experts from police forces, justice and government administrations of several French-speaking countries like Belgium, Switzerland, Québec province of Canada, and of course, France.

Various technical topics were discussed during the conference: new techniques for extracting and analyzing data, communication tapping, geolocation, botnets … The event also allowed informal exchanges about the legal and psychological aspects of information retrieval. Police officers can, for example, revise and adjust their standard approaches in interrogation of a suspect to convince him to give away the password to a device.

Exciting as well, was the debate around a way to use a handgun: while the Canadian police would use it only as the last resort or for lethal action, the Swiss police could use it to immobilize the runaway by aiming at an arm or a leg.

While standard devices such as personal computers and mobile phones still make the bulk of forensics analyses in the context of police investigations, the “internet of things” is gaining momentum. One of the questions raised was about the techniques to use and the way to train the police force to conduct forensic analysis of kitchen ovens or assault rifles as these devices on the market now run Android or Linux and are connected, just like PCs and tablets of the recent past.

All in all, much money is invested in training investigators on the technologies, cyber security and cyber threats, especially in France, where the Gendarmerie Nationale is adapting their training to new standards. However, unlike criminals, the police and justice must play by the rules and this remains their Achille heel because it takes a lot of time to update the laws and to coordinate the countries around the new types of fraud emerging from the misuse of digital devices and communication networks.

The quality of the talks was supplemented by a forensic competition with six challenges to solve in order to win a nice prize and a gala evening where one could listen to a much-talented comedy opera company.

The next JFIN conferences will take place in Nancy, France, in 2014.

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