TMCnet Feature
September 19, 2019

Jim Walker Explains Remote Data Extraction

With the advent of smartphones becoming critical to all aspects of everyday life, some of the most crucial evidence may only be available on those devices. After years of experience in the military and the public sector, Jim Walker, the President of Black Swan Digital Forensics, is excited to assist investigators with the latest advances in digital forensics by way of remote data extraction.

If properly gathered, evidence stored on smartphones and other digital devices is admissible in a court of law. More importantly, digital forensics can assist private investigators and even help businesses investigate the origin of cyber-attacks.

What Constitutes Digital Forensics?

Digital forensics is a fairly new scientific field focused on unraveling evidence holed up within digital devices, namely computer hard drives and smartphones. The industry is growing quickly, since developments in digital forensics is drastically simplifying investigations for public and private organizations alike.

A key component of digital forensics is the data extraction device. Even if suspects delete or “break” their smartphone or hard drive, data extraction devices are able to find and retrieve critical information.

What is Remote Data Extraction?

Typically, extracting data from digital devices involves mailing off the device to data extraction experts. In contrast, remote data extraction allows people to extract data on the spot, saving time, shipping expenses, and very importantly, it minimizes the amount of time someone is unable to use their digital device. In fact, with remote extraction the digital device never leaves the owner’s possession.

These remote data extraction devices, such as Jim Walker’s Black Swan Remote Extraction Machine, allow investigators to extract data for digital forensics purposes any time of day or night. Black Swan’s device represents one of the leading remote data extraction devices wherein extracted data cannot be destroyed or lost. Most importantly, extracted data is admissible in a court of law.

In many cases where data extraction is necessary, subjects require the use of their smartphone constantly and are simply not able to part with their phone for weeks or even days (unless a warrant requires them to do so). Because of this, remote data extraction is vital for all digital forensics situations. For example, police officers with remote data extraction devices on site are more likely to secure consent from those wanting to cooperate with an ongoing investigation.

How It Helps Criminal Investigations

In many homicide cases of the 21st Century, the most incriminating evidence lay in text messages and photos on suspects’ smartphones. Most suspects know enough to delete incriminating evidence from their smartphone. Even so, Jim Walker states remote data extraction devices can retrieve these deleted texts and pictures as long as they have not been overwritten by the device’s storage capacity. Additionally, remote data extraction can often recover key evidence from phones that have been destroyed.

Understanding Chain of Custody and Evidence Handling

One of the most critical parts to any criminal investigation is proper evidence handling. Any break in the “chain of custody” can result in key evidence being disqualified from admission to the courtroom. Put simply, Jim Walker states the evidence chain of custody is the official log of how the evidence was handled all the way from the crime scene to the courtroom. Any evidence tampering would typically reveal a break in the chain of custody, thus resulting a judge casting out said evidence.

One major benefit to the remote data extraction device is its ability to prevent any breaks in the chain of custody. Digital evidence stored within the remote extraction device is safe and secure to assist law enforcement, prosecutors, investigators, defense attorneys, and public defenders in their case.

Jim Walker is president of Black Swan Digital Forensics, a Memphis, Tennessee based company specializing in remote extraction of digital devices. Also a decorated US Army veteran, Walker served as the Director of the Alabama Department of Homeland Security for eight years. Today, he lives with his family in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

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