Wednesday, August 27, 2008

CHANGE OF GUARD AT FORENSIC LAB

The Outgoing Director Talks About A Few Well-Known Cases And Why The Haywood Wi-Fi Hacking Could Not Be Solved.

A month has passed since the Wi-Fi connection of American national Ken Haywood was allegedly breached and his computer was used to send an e-mail to the media warning that in a few minutes bombs would explode in Ahmedabad.

While investigators continue to puzzle over who hacked into Haywood’s system and sent the terror e-mail, outgoing director of the state forensic science laboratory, Rukmini Krishnamurthy, said on Tuesday that she believes it is not possible to detect such hackers with the techniques and equipment available at present.

Kalina Forensic Science Laboratory (KFSL) director Krishnamurthy said, “There are no forensic techniques available to trace the person who hacks into someone’s unprotected wireless device and misuses it.’’

In Haywood’s case, investigators asked for the manufacturing details of the Wi-Fo router he used. KFSL is in touch with the foreign forensic experts to find out the information. Krishnamurthy said, “If we have the manufacturing details of the wireless router, we could try to detect the encroacher. But that is also not a sure bet, as we still have to experiment in this regard.’’

However, she is hopeful that a system will be devised to get to the bottom of such anonymous Wi-Fi hackings, especially after a second terror e-mail surfaced in the city. On Saturday, a threatening e-mail was sent to a TV channel after the perpetrators hacked into the Wi-Fi system of the computer laboratory at Khalsa College.

Krishnamurthy said, “Our test reports help protect the innocent. In Haywood’s case, we didn’t find anything objectionable in his hard disk and reported this to the Anti-Terrorism Squad.’’

As of now, in such cases, the KFSL copies the entire hard disk seized by the police and tests it to detect objectionable data. The number of days taken for such an examination depends on the capacity of the hard disk.

Krishnamurthy advised that Wi-Fi users should get their passwords protected on Wi-Fi-enabled devices. Configuring systems and constantly changing passwords can help avoid encroachment.

The KFSL has this month completed 50 years and celebrated the golden jubilee at the laboratory on Monday by calling experts working in district branches to the city for a function. On Tuesday, Krishnamurthy held meetings with the experts before they returned to their destinations.

Krishnamurthy, who has worked with the laboratory since 1974, retired in January 2007, after which she had been given an extension. She will now join the central Directorate of Forensic Science as a national forensic co-coordinator under the Ministry of Home Affairs. She will continue to be based in Mumbai.

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