Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $445,932)
The Internet of Things (IoT) collects, stores, uses, and shares vast quantities of data about individuals, property, animals, and plants to provide users of IoT devices with a service. IoT devices are vulnerable to cyber-dependent, cyber-enabled, and other forms of crimes. IoT devices and their data can also provide critical information for use in criminal investigations because it can reveal individuals’ activities, motivations, and behaviors. IoT data (especially from IoT consumer devices) has been introduced as evidence in courts within and outside of the United States. Despite the increasing introduction of IoT-related evidence in courts, IoT training of criminal justice agents is sparse and harmonized protocols and practices for the forensic analysis of IoT devices do not exist. An essential first step in training and the harmonization of these protocols and practices is the provision of information about IoT devices – particularly capabilities, vulnerabilities, and the data collected, stored, used, and shared by them. In view of that, our proposed project seeks to develop a searchable IoT consumer device database for U.S. criminal justice agents that will serve as a repository of information about consumer IoT devices, their vulnerabilities, the data they collect, the location of the stored data, the third parties that receive and access this data, and information about the ways this data can be ethically and legally accessed by criminal justice agents. Ultimately, the database contains information that can be used to: assist investigations and prosecutions; identify best practices for handling evidence in a manner that meets judicial standards and ethical and privacy concerns; and inform and train relevant stakeholders and communities on IoT capabilities and vulnerabilities, and the nature and extent of IoT data collection, use, storage, and sharing. In addition to the database with IoT capabilities, vulnerabilities, and data, we will also develop technical documentation about the database and its content, an operation manual for the database, and resources for criminal justice agents about IoT devices and their data. The proposed project seeks to enhance capacity building efforts on the provision of training and technical assistance to law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges by developing a critical resource that can be used to provide IoT training and technical assistance to criminal justice agencies to increase their ability to solve problems involving IoT and enhance existing efforts to prevent, respond to, investigate, prosecute, and adjudicate crime.