The Driving Force Behind

Modern Investigations:

Digital Intelligence

More than ever, criminals are utilising digital devices and data. Today, 90 per cent of law enforcement cases worldwide include at least one digital device or cloud application and most investigations involve multiple devices. The explosion of criminal data places law enforcement at a significant disadvantage by complicating the ability to uncover information and greatly extending the time needed to investigate crimes.


With the emergence of this realisation, investigators

must adopt their own digital intelligence strategies for

identifying connections between criminal entities,

establishing motives and drawing key insights into

criminal activity. Digital intelligence solutions allow

agencies to access, analyze, and manage actionable

digital evidence that provides the data and insights

needed to enable and expedite the investigative and

judicial process and bring closure to victims.


Agencies today are facing three main challenges when

it comes to going digital with their investigations. The

first is that they need highly specialized tools that allow

them access to evidence from the ever-growing

number of data sources, including mobile devices,

computers, smart cars, smart home appliances, drones

and wearables. Second, agencies are seeking tools

that can securely manage and control the collected

digital evidence for analysis.


Third, investigators and their teams are looking for

ways to help them visually analyze the data and

produce actionable and credible intelligence for a wide range of case types including homicide, child exploitation, human and animal trafficking, terrorism, and others. Cellebrite offers field, lab, investigation, and management and compliance solutions to solve all three of these main issues across an integrated Digital Intelligence platform.

Cellebrite’s solutions are trusted by thousands of law enforcement agencies and enterprises worldwide and help solve over five million cases per year. For instance, Cellebrite UFED Cloud enables extraction, preservation and analysis of cloud-based data from legally pre-approved private sources and social media.


Then, Cellebrite Pathfinder is applied to eliminate time-consuming and resource-draining manual review of digital data. Harnessing artificial intelligence, the solution, which features Media Analytics, can automatically detect and categorize images and video frames into key categories, including weapons, drugs, and object recognition. Additionally, Cellebrite recently acquired BlackBag Technologies to further expand the company’s digital intelligence portfolio by incorporating computer access and additional analysis solutions.


Combining leading access to Windows-based and Mac computers and Cellebrite’s mobile capabilities, together as one, the companies enable investigators to utilize smart tools to surface critical evidence. The following case studies exemplify how digital intelligence has served as the driving force for UK investigations over recent years.


In June of 2016, a phone was submitted to a police

station in the United Kingdom, and investigators found

alarming communications on it. A male had offered

payment in exchange for sexual activity with a female’s

7-year old daughter, and arrangements had already

been made to organize the illicit event. After further

interrogation, the law enforcement team was able to

identify the male suspect and make an arrest at his

home. During the search of the suspect’s home,

officers found a missing “dirty phone” used to

communicate with the woman. The team applied

Cellebrite’s UFED Touch 2 to examine the contacts

on the device and narrow down a shortlist of suspects,

witnesses and victims.

The case took a larger turn as digital forensics of the

male suspect’s phone revealed three more females

who either had children or access to children and

were offering them to engage in sexual activity. After

77 officers seized and examined a total of 5 Terabytes

of data from 122 digital devices, the team was able to

analyze and leverage the digital evidence to arrest the

man and three women involved. A Digital Media Investigator and Forensic Examiner of South Wales Police explained, “within 48 hours, the suspect was identified and charged using Cellebrite Digital Intelligence solutions that combined interviews of the victims and suspects.”


Similarly, a case grew in size and complexity when digital evidence was used to uncover a nationwide car theft operation in the UK. From November 2016 to June 2017, a gang of five executed a ‘chop shop’ operation involving stolen high-value vehicles across the country.


The group used keyless fobs to hack car electronic systems and then steal and dismantle the vehicles to sell to overseas buyers. An investigation was initiated when Gloucestershire police were alerted to a stolen motorhome tracked down by its owner to a breakers yard that housed two Land Rovers with the same number plates. Soon a month’s worth of CCTV recordings and several mobile devices belonging to the suspects were seized from the premises and submitted to digital forensics.


Leveraging Cellebrite’s Physical Analyzer, investigators were able to make pivotal data extractions and leverage the geotags on the photographs to produce a comprehensive picture of the crimes committed in several hours. Next, Cellebrite’s Pathfinder solution was applied and, within a few days, investigators there were able to uncover the evidence needed by the court to convict the suspects. Detective Sergeant Harry Limer reflected, “a full database was created and ready to be analysed, which helped to turn around what looked to be about 6 months of work into a matter of a few days.”


Handling data effectively and efficiently during investigations is crucial in today’s fast-pace and digital world. Digital intelligence solutions not only provide access to critical digital information but also automate the analysis of the data using AI to identify patterns, reveal connections and uncover leads with speed and accuracy. From crimes against children to gang activity, digital evidence has become the driving force investigators need to solve more cases faster with actionable intelligence to keep our world safer.


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This article was written by by Mark Gambill, Executive Vice President, Cellebrite