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APWG.EU Participates in a Consortium Deploying Cybercrime Chain of Custody Clearinghouse to Bridge Investigations Across Private and Public Sectors

The APWG.eu participates in the design effort in the development of a chain of custody clearinghouse and management platform that would automate the collection, and chain-of-custody requirements, for processing and archiving digital evidence, from offline data captured from cellphones to online data intercepted in one-off video streams, web pages and databases.

The Lawful evidence cOllecting and Continuity plAtfoRm Development (LOCARD) system, a project recently funded through the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 program, would automate the collection and documentation of every digital form of evidence in every format and medium. LOCARD proposes a comprehensive framework to make far-flung, variously captured and disparate data resources into court-ready, forensically sound evidence that complies with all the special requirements demanded for the forensic capture, preservation and presentment of these data.

LOCARD’s objective operationally is to prepare data for compliant presentment by enabling both Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) and their Digital Forensic laboratories and also industrial technology providers and consultants to seamlessly and collaboratively process and store potential digital evidence, observing all of the chain-of-custody requirements for those data to be compliantly presented in a court of law, at once alleviating many legal and logistical challenges that current state of the art and practice face.

Justice Police

Dr. Agusti Solanas, scientific coordinator of the APWG.eu, said, “Compliance and evidentiary requirements for digital evidence presents a basket of logistical, operational and legal challenges that demand a processing platform that imposes forensic rigor as the data resources are captured, no matter the source or contributor.”

The APWG.eu is one of 19 organizations developing LOCARD, including a number of European universities, telecommunications and technology companies, consulting firms and LEAs. APWG.eu is the leader of the Dissemination and Communication WP, expanding the project and bridging with stakeholders.

The Horizon 2020 grant runs for a term of three years and awards APWG.eu 345,000 Euros. The project page can be inspected HERE.

The functionality envisioned for LOCARD has been long awaited by industry and law enforcement agencies, parties who are, by the nature of cybercrime and the relationship of industrial actors to maintenance of networks, data resources and victimized customers, obligatory partners in the development of cases. For years, these usually non-correspondent sectors struggled with observing chain-of-custody requirements in rough-hewn collaborations managed outside of a formal, disciplining framework like LOCARD.

LOCARD’s promise as an operating platform for law enforcement and industry is to increase the trust in the handling and processing of digital evidence, the management of chain of custody by providing transparency, using immutable storage to store the chain of custody and employing end-to-end security. LOCARD will be the EU’s collaborative and distributed platform to manage:

  1. Collecting digital evidence (online and offline).
  2. Storing the digital evidence in an immutable distributed storage.
  3. Processing the stored data to realize the full extent of the related incident (e.g. by finding previously unknown correlations related to possible parallel running/finished investigations).
  4. Providing the necessary reports.
  5. Handling the data for the court (exports)
  6. Allowing citizens to report online incidents.
  7. Bind the transactions between clients, investigators, companies etc. through Smart Contracts allowing for integrity, authenticity, traceability and auditability of digital evidence along with digital evidence – related actions

The LOCARD coordinator is Dr. Constantinos Patsakis, assistant professor at the University of Piraeus and adjunct researcher at the Institute for the Management of Information Systems (IMIS) of Athena Research and Innovation Centre, and former researcher at the UNESCO Chair in Data Privacy at the Rovira i Virgili University (URV) of Tarragona, Catalonia, where he worked with long-time collaborator with Dr. Agusti Solanas, director of Smart Technologies Research Group and Professor in the Dept of Computer Engineering and Maths at URV.

About APWG.eu

The APWG.eu, established in 2013 as the Anti-Phishing Working Group European Foundation, is an industry association focused on unifying the global response to cybercrime. The organization, operating as a non-profit scientific research foundation incorporated in Spain, provides a forum for responders and managers of cybercrime to discuss phishing and cybercrime issues, to consider potential technology solutions, to access data logistics resources for cybersecurity applications, to cultivate the university research community dedicated to cybercrime, and to advise government, industry, law enforcement and treaty organizations on the nature of cybercrime.