New Digital Forensics Lab Opens in California

A new digital forensics facility opened its doors in San Luis Obispo along the central coast of California as a means to fight cybercrime and will be used by forensics investigators across the county.

On Wednesday, the California Cyber Training Complex was unveiled at Camp San Luis Obispo, according to a local report in The Tribune. The lab includes centers for both academic and field training among its facilities alongside a ‘test range’ and experimental laboratory, the latter which will be fully operational by 2018. County law enforcement agencies, Cal Poly university, the California Military department and the country’s District Attorney office were all involved in a collaborative effort to launch the facility.

As one of the states with the highest concentration of cyberattacks, California is making moves toward investing in better infrastructure as a means to catching cybercriminals. A 2016 Data Breach Report from the state revealed that three out of five Californians were victims of a data breach in the year 2015 alone.

Major General David Baldwin from the California National Guard stated:

What they trick most people by is simple phishing attempts where an email will come across and it looks like it’s from your bank or from one of your friends saying ‘hey, you need to click on this.’

The facility will also team up with Cal Poly students who will be provided educational opportunities at the forensics lab. The CSU state system churns out nearly half of the criminal justice workforce in California.

San Luis Obispo District Attorney Dan Dow, whose office will run the lab, underlined the importance of digital evidence in an increasingly connected world. Digital evidence goes beyond digital crimes, Dow stated, pointing to anything from cellphone call records to human trafficking leaving digital footprints behind.

Pointedly, he stated:

Rare is the case that does not involve digital evidence.

The forensic lab will house at least six or seven full-time technicians under a roof where law enforcement can collaborate to investigate difficult crimes, or even previously unsolvable cases, Dow added.

California’s newest digital forensics lab opens soon after Bristol County in Massachusetts opened its facility, as prosecutors and law enforcement are becoming increasingly aware that digital evidence could help investigate and solve criminal cases.