Digitally Investigating Drone Devices and Apps to Solve Modern Crimes


These days it’s common to see large, medium and small-sized sophisticated drones being sold to the average consumer. As more and more people become reliant on drones for getting that perfect aerial view, many commercial sectors have also followed suit to add drones as force multipliers to insert more eyes in inaccessible or advantageous places.

As drone adoption booms, criminals, unfortunately, exploit these devices to carry out unlawful acts from spying on neighbors to the full-blown militarization of the devices for terrorist activity. The relatively cheap price point of drones, the ease of use, the payload carrying capacity and the long-range autonomous reach provide useful options for smuggling and surveillance.

It’s become a challenge for law enforcement to stay ahead of the onslaught of criminal activity successfully using drones. Tackling criminal drone use presents complex and technical issues as often investigators are left with only one piece of the drone at the scene of the crime. Even when investigative teams do have the means to extract the data, conducting full and forensically-sound extractions can be a delicate process.

Across the US and around the world, we now see higher quality drones not only with the capability to capture images from professional onboard cameras but also to stream high-definition video in 4K over extended distances. These capabilities make drone navigation and surveillance more accurate than ever, as we have seen in recent episodes of the smuggling of narcotics into prisons. Drones are also being used by global terrorists to carry payloads of varying weights, and even to deploy explosive devices.


Drone Forensics

Our examiners can recover, analyze and generate reports based on data obtained from unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), also known as drones. 

In addition to the embedded flight data, we use various forensic tools to create forensic images of associated storage media containing photo and video files recorded by onboard or attached cameras. Once the data is acquired, we analyze the data using forensic software and to correlate data found in smartphone drone applications with flight data recovered from the device. 


Emerging Drone Threats

Some of the growing threats  we are facing today from criminals around the world:

  • Stalking
  • Game Tracking
  • Delivery of Drugs and Weapons
  • Delivery of Contraband into Prisons
  • Using drones to carry weapons
  • A threat to passenger aircrafts
  • Counter surveillance
  • Smuggling across borders