Keeping up with criminals is like keeping up with the Joneses. It often requires making some state-of-the-art purchases. Thus Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance is planning on investing $2.4 million in City Council funding into a new High Technology Analysis Unit (HTAU) lab set to launch by the end of next year.
The lab will be housed inside the DA’s office in Lower Manhattan, bringing experts and analysts under one roof to “sort through the terabytes of data.” The aim is to uncover evidence of identity theft or sharing child pornography on hard drives or cellphones. Mr. Vance says those types of cybercrimes have doubled in Manhattan over the past five years, leading to a 200 percent spike in the number of computers the DA’s office has had to analyze from 2010 to 2011. About 1,000 cellphones are also processed by the office each year.
Vance pointed to several recent schemes, including the discovery of advanced devices installed in ATMs that skim credit card numbers, and online peer-to-peer music-sharing networks, which perps have used to share images of child criminal sexual assaults.
Mr. Vance also pointed out that nowadays, almost every crime has a technological component, from discusses illegal activity online to tracking cellphones to verify a perp’s location:
“When your cell phone is on, you essentially leave digital breadcrumbs which show where you’ve been,” explained Vance, who said the signals can be “critical to finding where someone was or wasn’t.”
Sort of like the every-company-is-a-tech-company these days adage, only, you know, with felons instead of founders.