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IACP 2010: Light, fast, and highly-mobile cell phone forensics

The XRY Field Version from Micro Systemation and the Panasonic Toughbook U1 are a winning combination for law enforcement

For agencies including LAPD, Missouri State Patrol, Houston Police Department, and many others agencies, the ability to quickly and easily extract forensic information from a mobile telephone is about as easy as plugging it into a USB port. That’s because they — along with agencies in 60 countries around the world where it has been deployed — use a system called the XRY from Micro Systemation.

James Rowley from Micro Systemation spoke with PoliceOne from the Panasonic booth where the system was on display on the incredibly rugged U1 from Panasonic (watch more on the latest from Panasonic in coming days).

“The XRY Field Version for cell phone forensics gives law enforcement the ability to gather intelligence by plugging in any type of device — whether that’s a Blackberry, an iPhone, a Nokia, or any other device  — and download or extract that information in a forensically sound manner. So later, from a chain-of-custody standpoint, the integrity of the data is there — they haven’t added any information and they haven’t taken out information. They can annotate on it, they can distributed it, but the data is forensically sound.”

The U1 on which the XRY runs is one of the most rugged devices this author has ever handled. I’ve tried — hard — to break a U1 at a few trade shows including this year’s IACP in Orlando, and it is just one tough piece of hardware. Encased in a polycarbonate, magnesium alloy chassis is a brilliant LED screen capable of about 6,000 “nits” in direct sunlight — in real-person-speak that means it’s incredibly bright — and can automatically adjust its screen brightness for day or night operation.

The whole package, which weighs less than ten pounds, features the aforementioned Panasonic Toughbook U1 with the latest version of Micro Systemation’s software pre-installed and configured, along with all the necessary cables, a SIM card reader, infrared reader, and Bluetooth communications.  It also has hot-swappable batteries that last around nine hours. The setup comes inside a durable Storm Case that automatically adjusts air pressure without letting in water.

“This gives law enforcers the ability go out in the field, gather intelligence, and either using the wireless capability of the U1 send that back to the department or carry it back into the shop for further analysis,” Rowley added.

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