City detective receives forensic training in cracking cell-phone security

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Latest technology available to law enforcement becomes another tool in MPD’s crime-solving tool belt. Photo/MPD

MANCHESTER, NH —Detective Lou Krawczyk of the Manchester Police Cybercrime Unit recently completed four weeks of “Mobile Device Examiner” training at the National Computer Forensic Institute (NCFI) in Hoover, AL. The training was funded by the U.S. Secret Service.  

The training and equipment that Det. Krawczyk received will go a long way in helping to combat crime in the Queen City, because in the digital age, it is not just what is usually thought of as “cybercrime” that involves mobile computing devices. Many crimes these days have an electronic component, typically in the form of a cell phone.  

Cell phones are so pervasive in our society that many different crimes — from fraud to illegal drug sales to murder — usually involve one or more such devices. Cell phones may contain incriminating evidence in the form of photos, videos, or GPS locations, but more often, the best evidence is the communication between co-conspirators, in the form of call logs or text messages.  The hard part is getting past the cell phone’s security features to recover the evidence.

That is where one technique learned by Det. Krawczyk, while at NCFI, could make all the difference.  Known as ISP, or “In-System Programming,” it is a technique that requires a microscope, a steady hand, and a soldering iron.  ISP involves connecting wires directly to the memory chip of a cell phone to get at the evidence, bypassing lock codes that would normally keep an investigator out.   

With the training and equipment provided to the Manchester Police Cybercrime Unit by the U.S. Secret Service, it just got that much harder for perpetrators to keep evidence hidden on their cell phones, behind lock codes that only they know.


Information provided by Manchester Police Department public information officer Heather Hamel.