Tech evidence helps GBI investigators stay steps ahead of criminals

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Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018
News 12 First at Five

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- It may look like a fancy new building on the outside, but what's inside is what makes all the difference in cyber-related crimes.

They say it’s their job to make sure, that they look at every avenue of evidence.

The key to catching criminals is locked up on the fourth floor of the Cyber Center.

"We are in a good position in Augusta because we were able to buy a lot of the equipment that we needed when we started operations,” said Steven Foster, Special Agent in Charge of the GBI’s Cyber Crime Center.

The equipment is not cheap, but necessary.

Foster says communication is important. "We have to make sure the cellphones can't communicate with the network because if they can it can change the evidence that may be in a cell phone."

Digital Forensics Manager Investigator, Beth Messick shows how the cell phone would be handled should investigators need to extract information. "We would place it in here,” she says, standing in front of a small rectangular black box. “and seal the box, and that would totally block any kind of connection."

Not only blocking the signal but connecting devices to extract any evidence to use in court.

"All of our technology that makes our lives easier can be a witness against us."

"If we commit a crime and we're wearing an Apple Watch or a Fitbit or we've got a cell phone on, it may record information that's important to us as criminal investigators."

Even your car can rat you out.

Special Agent Foster explains that our cars are basically computers with wheels.

"It's very important for accident investigation reconstruction, but it can also be used for criminal investigation. We may be able to get information from cars now that we never could before," he says.

Beth Messick said, “We'll not only be able to say, you know, here's a fingerprint at the scene, we can possibly put the vehicle at a location as well."

Making it harder for the bad guys to stay hidden.

This is only scratching the surface of the kind of technology and software the GBI has at the Cyber Crime Center. Investigators say cybercriminals usually have the leg up on them, but as new technology comes out, they plan to make sure their resources are always up to date, to help close that gap between criminals and law enforcement.