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FORENSIC SCIENCE COMMUNICATIONS:
July 2004 Issue

06/16/04

Steganonographic image of Burlington, Vermont airport. Link to article on detecting stenographic images. "Forensic Science," loosely defined, is the application of science to legal issues--in this case, to solving crimes. And nothing is more important at the FBI's Laboratory than advancing and using science to implicate the guilty and exonerate the innocent.

Forensic Science Communications is precisely dedicated to that proposition. It started out life as the FBI's Crime Laboratory Digest way back in the 1970s. But in 1999 it raised the bar when it refocused itself with a new name to serve as a means for forensic scientists worldwide to communicate crucial and cutting-edge research.

You will find the articles precise and fascinating. This issue, for example, covers:

An Overview of Steganography for the Computer Forensics Examiner--which talks about the history of steganography (the art of covered or hidden writing), then concentrates on digital applications, where information is hidden in online image or audio files. For example, can you find the map of the Burlington, Vermont, airport in the pictured graphic? What's the difference between steganography and cryptography? Steganography is designed to hide a message from a third party; cryptography doesn't hide the message...just makes it unreadable.

Microscopy of Hair: A Practical Guide and Manual for Animal Hairs--which shows how identifying and comparing human and animal hair evidence can demonstrate key physical contacts of suspects, victims, and crime scenes. How are human hairs different from the hair of other mammals? They're uniform in color and pigment; their central medulla is amorphous and its width generally less than a third of the hair shaft's diameter; and their roots are club shaped.

The Specialized Use of Human Scent in Criminal Investigations--which explores scientific studies, practical experience, and confirmed criminal case results that shed light on how scent-discriminating dogs operate to identify the scent of bomb builders from exploded bomb remains and even the scent of drive-by shooters from scent collected from expended cartridge casings.

Case Study on DNA from a Computer Keyboard--which tells the story of a pharmaceutical company that suspected sensitive data was being taken from a computer authorized to only one user. Was someone else--an unauthorized person--using that computer? Investigators proposed that DNA analysis be performed on the trace evidence found in the keyboard. Many factors were considered. Was the keyboard in a public area? No, the area was sealed off. Could an unauthorized user be wearing gloves? Hair and skin could still fall into the keyboard. Could the authorized user carry DNA from another person into the space? Control keyboards were used to eliminate this kind of contamination.

Did the investigators find an unauthorized "perpetrator" with the tests? Check out the article for yourself at this month's issue of Forensic Science Communications and see.

Links: Forensic Science Communications | FBI Laboratory

Graphic: This JPEG image is steganographic! It hides a map of the Burlington, Vermont, airport inside it. Read more about it in the article.