The role of AI and ML in digital forensics

Balancing innovation and security

At a glance

  • Criminals increasingly leverage AI and ML to enhance their illegal activities, including evading law enforcement, committing financial crimes, and creating deepfakes.

  • Digital forensics experts use AI and ML to rapidly sort through data, detect patterns indicating malicious activity, and identify manipulations in digital content.

  • AI and ML have profound impacts on various aspects of daily life, including democracy, financial security, and privacy, necessitating vigilance and critical evaluation of their use.

  • It is crucial to demand transparency and ethical use of AI from corporations and governments, ensuring these technologies are used for good.

  • Staying informed, verifying information, advocating for transparency, and protecting personal data are essential steps the public must take to navigate the risks and benefits of AI and ML responsibly.

By Mary Rose Magsaysay

In today's fast-paced digital world, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are revolutionizing everything, from how we shop to how we fight crime. However, as these technologies advance, they bring new challenges that we must all be aware of. The public must understand both the dangers and the opportunities presented by AI and ML and be vigilant and critical of their use.

AI refers to the ability of computers to perform tasks that require human-like intelligence, such as learning and problem-solving. ML, a subset of AI, uses data to train computers to improve their performance on specific tasks over time. These technologies are powerful and transformative, but their impact on society can be positive and negative.

Criminals increasingly leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to enhance their illegal activities in various ways. AI is used to predict how law enforcement might respond to certain activities, enabling criminals to exploit legal loopholes and evade capture. In finance, criminals analyze market trends with ML to commit sophisticated financial crimes, including money laundering and market manipulation. The creation of deepfakes and misinformation by AI results in highly realistic fake videos and news that can influence elections, ruin reputations, and destabilize economies. Cyber-attacks have become more personalized and harder to detect as AI automates phishing and social engineering tactics.

Additionally, ML is employed to develop advanced malware that adapts to avoid detection, making cyber-attacks more effective and dangerous. AI also facilitates industrial espionage by aiding in the theft of trade secrets and intellectual property, which undermines innovation and economic stability. Lastly, AI streamlines criminal operations by reducing the need for human involvement, making illegal activities more scalable and less detectable.

On the flip side, digital forensics experts harness AI and ML's power to combat these sophisticated crimes. AI rapidly sorts through massive amounts of data, identifying crucial evidence and saving valuable time. ML detects patterns in data that indicate malicious activity, helping uncover hidden crimes. In media analysis, AI examines digital content to spot manipulations and match faces or objects, which is crucial for solving cases involving digital media. ML also predicts and reconstructs deleted or corrupted data, recovering vital information that could make or break a case. In network forensics, AI monitors network traffic to identify suspicious activities, preventing data breaches and cyber-attacks. Additionally, AI automates routine tasks in case management, allowing investigators to focus on complex and critical aspects of their work. Finally, AI ensures consistent and objective analysis of digital evidence, reducing human error and bias.
AI and ML are not just abstract concepts; they impact our daily lives in profound ways. It's crucial to be critical and vigilant for several reasons. Protecting democracy is essential, as deepfakes and misinformation can undermine democratic processes. By being critical of the media you consume and verifying information, you help safeguard democracy. Financial security is another concern, as sophisticated financial crimes can affect global economies and your personal finances. Understanding these risks enables you to protect your assets. Privacy is also at risk due to AI-driven surveillance and data breaches. Being aware of these threats allows you to take steps to protect your personal information. Finally, the ethical use of AI is imperative. Demand transparency and ethical use of AI from corporations and governments, holding them accountable to ensure these technologies are used for good.

Taking action is essential in navigating the rapidly evolving landscape of AI and machine learning (ML). First, stay informed by educating yourself about AI and ML; knowledge is power. Second, verify the information you consume by being skeptical and cross-checking sources to avoid misinformation. Third, advocate for transparency by supporting policies that promote transparency and accountability in the use of AI and ML. Finally, protect your data by securing your personal information online, such as using strong passwords, enabling two-factor authentication, and being cautious about sharing personal data.

AI and ML are reshaping our world in ways we are just beginning to understand. While they offer incredible opportunities for innovation and progress, they also pose significant risks. By staying informed and critical, we can help ensure these powerful technologies are used responsibly and ethically, protecting ourselves and society from their darker applications. Let's embrace the potential of AI and ML while remaining vigilant against their misuse.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are rapidly transforming digital forensics, making it more effective and efficient. Here's a straightforward look at how criminals and forensics experts use these technologies.

(This article is based on the paper on AI/ML and the Digital Forensics Community by Dexter D. Laggui CISSP CISA, Highly Technical Consultant, CICC, SWDGE, Chairman Committee on AI)

About the Author:  
Assistant Secretary Mary Rose Magsaysay is the Deputy Executive Director of the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC). She is the only EC-Council Certified Chief Information Officer Security Officer (C|CISO) and EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (C|EH) Version 11 in the Philippine Government. She has five certifications from Harvard Kennedy School:  
1. Senior Executive Fellow (SEF 2020)  
2. Cybersecurity - Intersection of Policy & Technology (CYBER 2020)  
3. Digital Transformation in Government: Innovating Public Policy & Service (DTG 2020)  
4. Strategic Management of Regulatory and Enforcement Agencies (SMREA 2009)

This resulted in her completion of the Harvard Kennedy Public Policy Track Certification. She also holds the AJCCBC Incident Response & Network Forensics certification from the ASEAN-Japan Cybersecurity Capacity Building Center. She graduated from the George Marshall Center in Garmisch Germany - International Program on Cyber Security Studies (IPCSS 2021).