A new kind of crime scene investigation is on the horizon, according to the head of the digital, cyber and communications forensics unit at the Metropolitan police.
Investing in a smart fridge could bring down grocery bills in the long run, but recent claims from the UK’s Met Police suggest the same technology will be used to bring down the owners of connected devices, too. Those intent on a life of crime could soon find themselves grassed up by their own white goods, according to Mark Stokes, the Met’s head of digital, cyber and communications forensics unit.
IoT devices will contribute to digital forensics for police
The prediction is based on the fact that the price of IoT devices will continue to drop, inadvertently placing a plethora of connected cameras and sensors in the home and, by extension, closer to our secrets. The devices in question include fridges, washing machines, doorbells, lightbulbs and coffee-makers, all of which could gather and retain evidence for UK police forces to use during investigations.
Many of these devices will be able to disclose data central to criminal investigations, whether its retained footage from a break-in or a solid alibi for a suspect. This is the emerging world of digital forensics.
IoT devices could provide eyes and ears in every room, so it’s easy to see how their information could revolutionize crime-scene investigation. Stokes suggested that detectives are already being trained to identify the digital footprints that eventually establish the truth of alibis or highlight inconsistencies in testimonies.
Read more: Met deploys 22,000 wearable cameras
Speaking to The Times, Stokes said “Wireless cameras within a device such as the fridge may record the movement of suspects and owners. Doorbells that connect directly to apps on a user’s phone can show who has rung the door and the owner or others may then remotely, if they choose to, give controlled access to the premises while away from the property. All these leave a log and a trace of activity.”
Stokes also said plans to develop a digital forensics kit were underway, which will eventually allow investigators to analyse microchips and download data at the scene rather than hauling away entire kitchens.
Always aware: Connected devices ensure privacy will remain a concern
Mr Stokes spoke with The Times just days after the IoT was at the center of a murder investigation in the US state of Arkansas. After an Amazon Echo – the selling point is that it’s ‘always listening’ – was found in the home of a suspected killer, police issued a warrant to Amazon to turn over audio and other records from the device.
According to The Information, investigators were also able to look at the history of the suspect’s smart water meter, which revealed that more than 140 gallons of water were used on the night that the victim was murdered and found dead in the suspect’s hot tub. Could the subject have taken a bath instead of a shower or was this an obvious attempt to wash away any evidence? That’s one thing the IoT can’t tell us. Yet.