by Mitz Pantic from Tips4pc.com
6 Craziest Criminal Cases Cracked by Computers
Computers have been around for more than half a century, but it really wasn’t until the 1980s that the world started to see a rise in computer crime. Why? The PC.
As more and more people had access to a personal computing system at home, some began to use them for the purposes of committing crimes. New categories of crimes were even created to account for this phenomenon, such as hacking and email fraud. As computers advanced, and especially with the rise of the internet and the ability to store amazing amounts of media on a small hard drive, people continued to find more ways to use computers for criminal activities.
Because of all this, computer forensics emerged as a way for experts to catch people using digital evidence. What is computer forensics? Essentially, it is a way to identify, extract, document, preserve, and interpret computer data for the purpose of taking legal action against someone for committing a crime. Forensic evidence intended to be used in court must be reliable, authentic, and admissible. Guidelines differ from country to country, but the result is usually the same: if authorities find evidence of wrongdoing on your computer, you can be prosecuted for it to the full extent of the law.
In today’s criminal justice system, computer forensics isn’t some crazy future tech – it’s a normal tool that investigators use to put people behind bars, and it has been a part of some of the biggest and craziest cases in recent memory. Sometimes these cases involve just as much manpower, time, and effort as physical investigations, while other times – just like in normal criminal cases – the evidence just seems to fall right into investigators’ laps.
1. Dr. Conrad Murray. One of the higher-profile cases of the last few years is that of Michael Jackson’s physician. Now, his case wasn’t entirely decided by computer forensics, but it certainly didn’t help him that investigators were able to find medical documentation on his computer showing that he authorized lethal amounts of propofol for the deceased pop star.
2. The BTK Killer. This is probably the most famous use of computer forensics to crack a case. For over 30 years, police had tried to use traditional evidence to track down this man who had strangled a number of women over a period of 16 years, from 1974 to 1991. During his reign of terror, he often taunted police with letters and poems, but no one could ever link the killings to anyone. Then, after 10 years of silence, he sent the police a floppy disk with a Word document in 2004. Within just a few hours, computer forensics experts uncovered metadata on the disk that connected it to a “Dennis” at Christ Lutheran Church. This turned out to be Dennis Rader, who later admitted to the crimes in excruciating detail.
This excerpt appears with permission from Tips4PC.com.