Darknet and Bitcoin for the Court

What did you miss at the recent TALI North Midwinter Conference held in Hurst, TX, today? Only the most concise, understandable explanation, and a lot of myth-busting, of all things internet, darknet, bitcoin, and investigations-related all packed into two hours. Here's an overview of what attendees learned without the amazingly well-timed jokes.

Myth 1: The darknet is for criminals. 

tl;dr: No more than guns are.

Attendees learned how the tools used to access the darknet are actually just privacy tools and that they ought to give them a look to consider just how much of their information is exposed when using conventional internet tools, like regular ol' browsers and regular ol' email clients.

Myth 2: Bitcoin is untraceable. 

tl;dr: Quite the opposite.

Attendees learned to identify indications of cryptocurrency in a physical crime scene (paper and devices), in financial records, in surveillance detail, and on the blockchain(s). They didn't get to learn how to ask for clues in discovery, interrogatories, or interviews because that's a different course, but they did learn that you don't always need to call a digital forensics expert to discover evidence.

Myth 3: Good reviews are a good thing. 

tl;dr: Unless you're a criminal.

Attendees learned how five-star reviews led to an individual becoming the subject of a Secret Service counterfeit investigation. Attendees walked through details of the case, learned how the secret service used the darknet to scope an investigation, and identified the evidence-gathering potential of the subject.

Myth 4: Digital forensics gets you all the things. 

tl;dr: It doesn't.

Attendees learned how to make it easy for judges to compel discovery by not asking to image devices. Digital forensics is useful in some cases, but the evidence you need can also be found elsewhere. Attendees learned how to narrow their requests for digital evidence in the discovery process.

Myth 5: You can't learn this now. 

tl;dr: You can!

Shameless plug time: Just ask me. My firm provides continuing education like this to lawyers, investigators, and law enforcement. I'm happy to come by for a lunch and learn or hang out eating your mints.

Keep an eye out for online courses coming this month, too.