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Upper Austria highlights problem of computer police

The work of computer forensics is becoming more important to the police. Eleven experts at the state office of criminal investigation evaluate computers and mobile phones. As amounts of data have increased, the work is becoming more difficult.

Computer forensics of the Upper Austrian state office of criminal investigation analysed around 4,500 gigabytes of data in 2004, compared to 280,000 gigabytes in 2012. This means an increase of 5,000 percent within a few years.

Apparently, the cause for this is the price decline for hard disks, said Gerhard Schwarz, head of the "preservation of evidence IT team".

The officers encounter very personal but also illegal data, Mr Schwarz said: "Psychological stress especially occurs in the area of child pornography. Therefore, our team is offered psychological treatment, which they often use."

The computer forensics do not only hunt hackers or Internet fraudsters but also contribute to the solution of cases in all criminal areas, stated Hermann Furtmüller, state office of criminal investigation.

"For example, the team helps out if the computer is used as a means of communication for committing fraud or for organising criminal activity", Mr Furtmüller explained.

The team follows a certain procedure when examining computers. The computer is never switched on – only a duplicate of the data medium is analysed by the officers.

They use special forensic programmes in order to make visible what normal users cannot see.

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