July 2004 Issue
"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.
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:
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.
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.
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
Did the investigators
find an unauthorized "perpetrator" with
the tests? Check out the article for yourself
month's issue of Forensic Science Communications
Communications | FBI
Graphic: This JPEG image
is steganographic! It hides a map of the Burlington, Vermont, airport inside
it. Read more about it in the article.