A Berkshire software company has found a new way to help the police with their inquiries.
Vogon International, based in Wokingham, has developed a range of products and services specially designed to help law enforcement bodies recover criminal computer data to be used as evidence in court.
Called Evidential Systems, the service is data recovery with extra layers of security, so juries can be satisfied the evidence has not been tampered with.
The decision to set up the dedicated service arises from the company's previous work for police forces and government departments. Existing customers of Vogon include the Serious Fraud Office, the Ministry of Defence, the Royal Ulster Constabulary, and the Metropolitan and Kent police authorities, for whom the company set up bespoke systems. The Evidential system can also be tailored to individual needs, but will be based on a standard set of services with prices starting at u2,500.
Vogon envisages the software will also be used by private companies investigating internal fraud.
Evidential Systems software can be used on data that has been erased or encrypted, and on every disk and tape format, from PCs and Apples to minicomputers and mainframes.
What makes the system different from standard data recovery techniques is that the data itself is not altered. Vogon takes an image of the machine under investigation - "like taking a polaroid", according to company director Sandie Stevenson. One copy of that image can then be placed in a sealed container, in the same way as taped police interviews with suspects.
"We guarantee to meet the three rules for effective computer evidence," said Gordon Stevenson, founder and managing director of Vogon. "Copies of the suspect data must be verifiable and impossible to alter; the source systems and media must be unchanged after the evidence gathering process; and all data from a suspect environment must be quickly and easily searchable."
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