14 Sep 2023

Fortinet: Securing the Explosion of Digital Evidence #techUKSmarterState

Guest blog by James Asser, Senior Manager for the Public Sector at Fortinet, as part of Building the Smarter State week. #techUKSmarterState

Challenges in Policing today with the explosion of digital technology and associated evidence. 

While modern technology provides improved connectivity and communications across society, it has both benefits and challenges in equal measure for UK Policing. The public continue to capture digital evidence across a myriad of devices, whilst criminals utilise this sophisticated technology to commit crime ultimately evade discovery. 

Examples of this can be found within the proliferation of technology such as smart doorbells which captures digital evidence daily from crime scenes at burglaries to the most serious of physical assaults. These forces are seeking to collect and analyse this information during a criminal investigation with almost all ‘traditional crime’ holding a digital element.  

These sources of digital evidence include smartphones, private CCTV, smart vehicles, drones, social media accounts to include the more conventional computer. This explosion in the adoption of mobile technology has created a backlog within Policing with a single mobile phone capable of holding more than 130,000 images. As mobile phone manufacturers compete to win market share these handsets often differentiate themselves using onboard storage to retain and attract new customers. In 2013 these handsets often included 16GB of onboard storage and now these can have more than 500GB with almost limitless cloud storage. 

Fortinet continues to provide UK Policing the security attributes that officers and staff need to respond effectively to the challenges surrounding digital evidence, this provides the Police with effective security when they need access to cloud based storage regardless of their location, be it on-premises or remotely. 

The convergence of networking and security with Fortinet is critical as cyberattacks on the UK continue to increase both in number and severity in terms of both financial cost and risk. 

Fortinet’s Security Driven Networking approach provides advanced protection for the digital forensic units (DFU) securing the frontline digital kiosks and enabling low level examinations. This secure network makes the digital evidence searchable across teams from the officers responding to an incident to the forensic support staff, and detectives working on the case prosecution. 

These sophisticated DFU secure networks deliver several business benefits including the introduction of more self-service kiosks which reduce the time from digital evidence capture to analysis, providing a more streamlined criminal justice experience. This benefits both criminal investigations and the victim experience as these digital sources (laptops and mobile phones) can be returned to the owners. 

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James Asser is Senior Manager for the Public Sector at Fortinet. 

James served as a senior officer within Sussex Police ultimately becoming a Chief Inspector with responsibility for Policing a district while delivering the forces mobile policing strategy. In 2013 he concluded his Police service taking up his role with BlackBerry as their National Security account director, operating as a subject matter expert for Policing. 

In the last few years, he has worked across Europe Middle East and Africa (EMEA) for a variety of cybersecurity companies as both a senior and Managing Director operating across Europe and the Middle East.  

In 2023 James joined Fortinet and is responsible for the cybersecurity and networking engagement across Policing and Healthcare within the UK. 

From 11 – 15 September techUK is running our annual Building the Smarter State Week in the run-up to the ninth edition of our flagship public services conference, Building the Smarter State, on Wednesday 27 September. Book your tickets here