It was developed by the UK's South London University researchers along with the City of London Police. It uses a new application of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) technology pioneered by Forensic Science Services – a Home Office agency – to recover almost invisible samples left at a crime scene for examination.
The research team from South Bank University – led by senior lecturer in forensic science Dr Nicholas Lemos, who instigated the project idea – worked closely with institutions in the City of London, the capital's international financial centre, and its area police after a series of multimillion-pound computer equipment thefts. An investigation was conducted in offices where such thefts had occurred and the evidence gathered was positively identified and checked against the national DNA database.
Members of the research team observed a strict protocol designed to avoid any contamination by wearing protective clothing from head to toe while working at crime scenes in offices. They swabbed the surrounding area with cotton buds to recover samples invisible to the naked eye. During the investigation, minute traces left on computers and nearby may include skin brushing against a surface or from a few cells deposited through speaking and breathing. These can be positively identified and checked against the DNA database.
When the test samples were submitted to the Forensic Science Services and analysed, profiles identifying the DNA donor were successfully obtained from 50% of the cases. This was significantly higher than previously-obtained success rates of about 30%.
The discovery has sent a strong warning to computer thieves that the days of stealing equipment worth millions of pounds without detection and prosecution are about to end.
Secure Data transmission with 'KryptoCard'
The 'KryptoCard' represents a small and fast energy-saving hardware encryption solution to secure information against unauthorised access. Based on the same technique, the 'KryptoBox' can be integrated even into existing computer networks.
Modern and powerful encryption processes protect company data and confidential information exchanged over the Internet from unauthorised access by third parties. The KryptoCard – a hardware encryption device the size of a credit card – has now been presented by the German Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems – IMS in Dresden.
Extremely powerful mathematical algorithms are used today to encrypt important data. They convert a text or other sequence of characters into an apparently random sequence of numbers and letters, which are meaningless. Only authorised recipients, equipped with the appropriate electronic decryption key, are able to reconstruct the original information – a principle similar to encoded broadcasts on Pay-TV. A process now in common use is the synchronous Data Encryption Standard, where synchronous in this case means that one and the same key is used for encryption and decryption. The new hardware solution developed by the researchers at the IMS is based on this standard. In contrast to software-based solutions, the KryptoCard can also be used in microsystems or laptops which have insufficient room or power for high-performance universal processors. The new hardware solution, a personal computer memory card, is the size of a credit card and about 5 mm thick.