As digital technology continues to evolve, so do opportunities for criminals to leverage technology for criminal acts. Current forensic tools enable examiners to effectively gather evidence that is admissible in a court of law. However, forensic tools must evolve with digital technology in order to maintain or increase effective evidence gathering capabilities for law enforcement.

The emergence of LTE/4G mobile wireless networks (Long Term Evolution/4th Generation) brings with it LAN or Local Area Network speeds over mobile wireless connections. Mobile devices connected to LTE/4G networks will soon have up to 1 gigabit speeds available over which they can connect to the Internet. This technology will enable the transfer of large images and videos to and from small mobile devices that house large storage capacities within SD or Secure Digital cards that can be used for sex trafficking and child porn. Forensic challenges within this realm include the support of a wider range of storage file systems, and other issues associated with mobile devices such as support for a broader range of connector types to access the onboard storage contained within the mobile devices. In addition, LTE/4G technology also broadens the scope of devices that must be supported where large file evidence can be stored due to the high speed of 4G networks.

Increased video conferencing capabilities also falls under the realm of LTE/4G network technology that enables higher-grade video conferencing over mobile devices. The significance of video conferencing advancement is that it’s use will be more prevalent amongst criminals because of 4G, so forensic examination will include capturing more video file evidence stored on devices in the form of temporary and buffered files. Hence, digital forensic software such as Encase and Helix should include additional support for video file evidence that can glean information from video files such as what is contained within the headers that may be significant as evidence.

Peer-to-Peer networking protocols are primarily used for sharing multimedia content and files between client computers that participate in the peer-to-peer virtual network. However, as the demand for live video feeds over the Internet increases, especially as it relates to conference calls, we can expect an increase in multicast based peer-to-peer network protocols for criminal activity. Organized crime has already started using peer-to-peer networking, which allows connectivity between hosts that makes it extremely difficult to pinpoint host IP addresses and locations. Peer-to-peer networking using multicast protocols over the Internet will be used to increase video quality by decreasing bandwidth utilization and further increasing host identification difficulty. Forensic tools will have to include the ability to decipher information stored within the peer-to-peer applications in concert with information provided by Internet Service Providers in order to positively identify the network participant hosts.

Machine translation enables humans to instantly speak a foreign language by submitting written or verbal communication to a computer for translation. Such technology has already appeared in the Google Translation service offered on the Internet. As this technology advances it will enable criminal acts by facilitating communication between conspirators, and enable deniability of criminal acts as well. Forensic tools must become effective at capturing information from translation software and translated conversations to facilitate investigations.

Holographic discs will be the next generation optical media to replace Blu-ray and dual layer DVD discs. Holographic discs will be capable of storing 500 gigabytes to over 1 terabyte of data. Forensic tools such as Encase and Helix must be able to read, copy and capture evidence from the commercial Holographic discs that will most likely include long term storage and multimedia storage due to the massive amount of data that can be housed on one disc.

The technologies presented are just a few of the many technologies that will provide capability for consumers and opportunity for criminals. The field of digital forensics must be prepared with tools that can capture evidence from such technologies for law enforcement.