Computer Crime Research Center


Sniffing out computer crime

Date: March 06, 2004
By: Andrew Blazier

PASADENA -- Thinking of sneaking a peek at a pornographic Web site from your company's computers? Or sending a trade secret to the competition? Better think again.

From San Gabriel Valley police departments to the FBI, law enforcement agencies across the country are using sophisticated forensics software to track down white-collar criminals.

Designed by Pasadena-based Guidance Software Inc., one program, known as EnCase, has helped Guidance reach 90 percent of U.S. police departments that investigate computer-related crime. The firm doubled its annual revenues in 2003 to more than $20 million, and it plans to double revenues again this year, breaking the $40 million mark.

In a matter of minutes, EnCase can seize all information on a computer hard drive - even files that have been deleted - without physically altering any of the data, Guidance Chief Executive John Patzakis said. The data is then reconstructed in a way that prosecutors can use in court.

''It allows us to see more evidence that we may not have seen otherwise,'' said Pasadena Police detective Paul Carpenter . For the last 2 1/2 years, Carpenter has been assigned to the Southern California Regional High-tech Task Force, a group of more than 20 detectives from Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties that investigates computer-related crime. The task force was involved in 300 to 400 cases last year, ranging from online fraud to computer hacking.

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