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Why collaboration is key to swift and effective investigations

Find out how this software can break down silos within your department to help solve cases faster


Sponsored by Exterro

By Police1 BrandFocus Staff

Criminals today leave a trail of digital evidence that requires special skills and tools to investigate. Relevant data is stored on a variety of devices and platforms, and increasingly larger data sets and new types and forms of data continue to challenge law enforcement to keep up.

With FTK Central, your department can accelerate the digital investigations workflow to complete forensic collection, review and reporting faster in a collaborative environment that supports more efficient investigations.
With FTK Central, your department can accelerate the digital investigations workflow to complete forensic collection, review and reporting faster in a collaborative environment that supports more efficient investigations. (Getty)

To address these issues, police need digital forensics tools that are collaborative and integrated, as well as easy to use. The new, web-based FTK Central digital evidence platform from Exterro locates, collects and analyzes evidence from any digital device and combines all the relevant investigative data into a single, shared case database.

In this article, we’ll explore three ways the FTK Central platform helps streamline investigations:

1. CREATE AND SHARE A CLEAR, HOLISTIC PICTURE OF THE EVENT 

FTK – short for Forensic Toolkit – Central, unites digital forensic investigations and review in a single, collaborative platform so that everyone on the investigative team has access to the same information at the same time.

FTK Central quickly locates and collects evidence and analyzes any digital device or system producing, transmitting or storing data. All this evidence is stored in one case database – a single source of truth – that provides investigators with 24/7 access to the most current case evidence via a single application. The user interface is designed to be intuitive and easy to use so that investigators can get started with little to no training, and configurable case files ensure that reviewers see only the data pertinent to their assigned cases.

The shared database keeps the case file up to date so that anyone working on the investigation has access to the most current information, allowing for true collaboration. This includes parties outside the agency – for example, if your department is cooperating with a federal or neighboring agency to solve a case – while maintaining complete control over which information is shared with whom. Outside reviewers can review forensic case data from their own devices from anywhere, anytime.

“FTK is the only digital investigation solution that combines all data into a single case database, creating a clear picture of the event,” said Justin Tolman, a forensic subject matter expert with Exterro. “It greatly reduces case investigation times by allowing you to review data and identify relevant evidence all in one centralized location.”

Enabling all relevant parties to review data and evidence in one centralized location not only reduces investigation time, it also reduces the cost and complexity of managing these cases. FTK Central can be customized to match your department’s preferred workflow for even greater efficiency.

2. COLLECT AND INDEX DATA FROM ANYWHERE FOR EASY, CONSISTENT SEARCHES

FTK Central automates a range of repetitive tasks like evidence acquisition, review and export. Users can process and analyze a wide range of data types, from forensic images to email archives.

The system can collect data from anywhere, including cloud data sources and other endpoints outside your network, including popular platforms like Apple, Google and Microsoft Office. FTK Central can ingest these and more complex data types and parse them into more straightforward formats that investigators can review directly within the system – no toggling between separate applications – with indexing done upfront to make filtering and searching fast and easy.

FTK Central provides near-native review of chat data and all document types, automatically rendering the view according to the type of file.
FTK Central provides near-native review of chat data and all document types, automatically rendering the view according to the type of file. (Exterro)

With the FTK Central intelligent viewer, investigators can review all types of case data through a single lens. This is especially useful for compiling and reviewing data from chat applications. The system can integrate that data into all document types, with no need to switch viewers when navigating across documents, videos, chat logs and more. With the Portable Case feature, the data can be exported for offline review as well.

FTK Central also enables investigators to perform multi-pass data review and change indexing options without reprocessing the data. Whether you are in the investigating phase or performing document review, you have a shared index file, eliminating the need to recreate or duplicate the file. Most importantly, this means you get consistent search results.

3. APPLY CRITICAL INVESTIGATIVE TOOLS

Gathering and sorting the data is only half the battle. FTK Central is designed for efficiency with consistent and repeatable steps for processing data, and the easy-to-use platform enables front-line officers to analyze their own cases, reducing the time and effort required for these investigations – which in turn reduces overall costs.

FTK Central includes a suite of tools and features, all backed by its unified database, to help investigators manage and make sense of a variety of evidence types:

  • Intuitive user interface: Empower frontline investigators to review their own evidence and be instantly productive with minimal training.
  • Near-native review: Review chat application data, mobile data and Excel spreadsheets using a single, intelligent viewer that seamlessly navigates between data types and automatically renders the viewer according to the type of file selected.
  • Processing power: FTK Central is designed for speed and managing complex data on a simple, reliable platform. Multiple distributed processing engines can be scaled up to reduce processing time from days to hours.
  • Collaboration: Collaborate with outside reviewers and team members in real time to uncover evidence faster.
  • Forensic collection: Perform covert, remote off-network collection of endpoint data, as well as cloud data source collection from popular tools like the G Suite, Office365 and Slack.
  • Automate tasks: From evidence acquisition to evidence review and export, FTK Central can eliminate time spent on manual, repetitive tasks. Use AI categories for image and picture labeling to create workflow efficiencies.
  • Compatibility: FTK Central will integrate seamlessly with other tools like FTK, Lab and Enterprise to enhance existing forensic lab ecosystems and provide tools to fit all skillsets.
FTK Central provides a host of tools to help investigators easily manage and make sense of a variety of evidence types, including multimedia review and facial, image and object detection and recognition.
FTK Central provides a host of tools to help investigators easily manage and make sense of a variety of evidence types, including multimedia review and facial, image and object detection and recognition. (Exterro)

With these tools and more, FTK Central builds on Exterro’s established FTK products to help investigators gather critical evidence, connect the dots and share information with colleagues and with the prosecution.

“Digital evidence is becoming increasingly overwhelming to process, both in terms of complexity and volume. At the same time, forensic experts and legal reviewers are under pressure to work faster, solve more cases and secure more convictions,” said Bobby Balachandran, Exterro founder and CEO. “FTK Central’s new processing and review efficiencies address these challenges directly and decisively with powerful processing that can easily handle modern data sets. Forensics teams using FTK Central can now collaborate efficiently from anywhere on their own devices.”

With FTK Central, your department can accelerate the digital investigations workflow to complete forensic collection, review and reporting faster in a collaborative environment that supports more efficient investigations.

Visit Exterro’s FTK Central page for more information.

Read Next: Evidence and the cloud: How does your agency measure up? (infographic)

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