A greater numbers of agencies worldwide are recognizing the value of MSAB’s Frontline Forensics in empowering frontline officers to conduct their own basic extractions of devices, thus freeing up the high tech labs to concentrate on the higher priority crimes and speeding up investigations. This has led to many also seeing the benefits of having one central management system to administer their ecosystem.
In my experience, there are many benefits to having XEC Director.
The first is cost: If you have a number of Kiosks, Tablets or XRY Office units spread over a geographical area then these still have to be administered and updated, passwords reset, new users added and/or removed. An officer needs to spend time servicing every site, or every site needs an admin user – both of which are more costly than having a single overall Admin.
At a small geographical site a customer reported spending approximately £35k (in officer’s salary) per year just to maintain their system prior to XEC installation. Once XEC was installed the cost and time spent travelling to their Kiosk sites was removed and so XEC paid for itself in a few months. Just imagine the costs of maintaining such a system across a large geographical area such a nationwide or state-wide deployment. Having an officer – and probably more than one officer – spend time maintaining the system just to reset passwords and deliver software updates would be a full time job.
Another benefit is version control: Many customers report that across their installations they rely on local staff to install updates. However, when the machines were inspected they found that many different versions of XRY were installed as machines are updated at different times. It is better to have the latest version of XRY across all your machines – the newest versions always have better extraction and decoding properties, and management can expect a standard extraction across the entire agency.
User competence: The whole premise of MSAB’s Frontline Forensics is that frontline officers are given the hardware, in the form of a Kiosk or tablet, and the software, in the form of the workflow and XRY, to allow them, with minimal training, to conduct extractions. As a senior manager, you need to know if the users performing these extractions are up to the job. Are they failing, or are they excelling and so worthy of career development in Digital Forensics?
With XEC Director the senior management can monitor users performance – they can keep an eye on how many successful extraction each user has completed – and block those found wanting, instructing them to retrain.
The XEC Admin can move users up or down levels based on the officer meeting certain factors, and so the officers can have a different experience of the MSAB Workflow based on their level of competence.
How many, Who and Where: Most senior officers want to know how many extractions their system is performing per year, quarter or month. They want to know which sites are doing the most, which sites are underutilizing their kit, and which sites are struggling under the pressure and need more kit. They also want to know who their top performers are and who needs assistance.
All of these questions can be answered at the touch of a button using XECs reporting tool. The standard reports do just that; they allow an Admin to specify a period of time and generate reports based on the whole system, specific sites or individual users.
Errors: Because of the detailed way in which MSAB’s XEC logs events, the Admin of any system can see exactly what any user has done and possibly where they have made errors.
Remote Assistance: If the system is connected using Active Directory then there is also the ability for the central Admin, who generally has more experience in digital forensics, to take over a remote Kiosk or Tablet and run the Workflow themselves from their central lab. This is invaluable when encouraging and assisting frontline officers who may lack experience in this field.
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Simon Crawley is a former Police Sergeant in the Metropolitan Police Service, with 10 years experience in Counter Terrorism intelligence gathering using digital forensic tools. Simon designed, built and managed an effective and efficient MSAB Ecosystem in order to improve data collection, and he is now a senior consultant for MSAB.