Category Archives: Press / Media

There’s More to an Image than Meets the Eye

When using an image as evidence during a court case, the point of view it represents acquires a resonance much stronger than the testimony of a witness. With video, this is even more true, as we may understand the dynamics even from the frames and any additional information which may be gleaned from the audio track.

Nowadays, there are many free and easy tools which can be used to modify pictures with ease, and thus the authentication of images is of paramount importance. But even more importantly, we need to understand how much data there is in an image, in addition to what we can already see.

Read the full article published in Lawyer Monthly.

Digital images – trust must be earned

The science behind forensic image analysis is growing fast and constantly evolving. Even within the last 5 years, the ability to take a photo, manipulate it to tell a different story, and circulate the misinformation online has become infinitely easier. The advent of smartphones, convenient digital image manipulation software and easy dissemination of information are throwing up new challenges that investigators and forensic technicians must adapt to.

Unfortunately, it is too risky to simply take digital images at face value. Instead, we must ask and have the tools to query, such as “Where did the image or video originate from?”; “Who provided it and is there any reason they might have modified it?”; “Is it a camera-original?”; and “Do I believe this is a true and accurate representation of events?”

To give a practical example, back in the summer of 2017, two images featured prominently in the initial reporting of Hurricane Harvey. The first was of a shark swimming along the Houston freeway. The second showed several aeroplanes virtually underwater at what was claimed to be Houston airport. These iconic images were circulated widely on Twitter and were featured on mainstream national media such as Fox News. There was just one small problem. Neither situation had actually occurred!

If this behaviour is widespread on social and traditional media, then why shouldn’t we believe it is also impacting police and legal investigations? After all, if members of the public are prepared to manipulate images for the sake of a few likes and retweets, what will they be prepared to resort to when the stakes are much higher?

Read the full article published in eForensics Magazine.

 

Fraud in Science: the Bigger Picture

Cases of fraud within published scientific research are on the rise, with several recent cases involving the falsification of images.

Scientists are subjected to exactly the same pressures and temptations that drive people to commit fraud in all manner of environments and for various reasons. Sometimes the motivation is commercial; perhaps to obtain a research grant or to enhance the profile of the institution and attract more applications. In others it might be professional; to get published in a prestigious Journal or simply to save face after an experiment has failed to deliver the desired
results.

Regardless of the justification, when these actions have legal consequences it is important to have the tools to detect when such fraud occurs. And more importantly to have the ability
to scientifically prove this in a court of law.

Multimedia forensics is invaluable within cases of research fraud, both for presenting a case or defending the accused. However, it’s not good enough to simply bring in an expert witness and have them confidently present their case. Tools exist to carry out the analysis in line with the scientific methodology, giving the judge and in some cases the jury, a basis upon which to evaluate the full weight of the evidence. Consider it ironic, but if the right software is adopted within the legal system then the scientific method may just prove to be the answer to the current crisis facing scientific integrity.

Read the full article published in The Barrister.

All is not as it seems

Digital images are frequently used to provide supporting evidence within papers and reports, yet are not routinely submitted to any scientific process of authentication. In a world in which the tools to digitally manipulate an image are freely available, it’s no longer acceptable to simply take these images at face value.

The past 12 months has seen the scientific community rocked by a series of scandals relating to the use of manipulated images within published scientific research.

Researchers’ ambition to gain scientific exposure, to achieve career advancement or to secure funding, can drive them to embellish their results in order to attain their goals in the increasingly competitive world of scientific discovery. Equally, the pressure to publish can see them stumbled across doctored images and incorporate them by mistake. In these cases, not only is the individual’s reputation at risk, but also their colleagues’ who are oblivious to the altered nature of the images. The impact of these images is extensive and far-reaching: they threaten to endanger the name of the organization for which the researcher is working, as well as calling into question the integrity of the scientific community at large. This is a critical issue in the current technological day and age, yet very little is being done to address it. Bearing in mind the damage that doctored images can do, scientific publishers and research institutes ought to be more rigorous when setting out the requirements for images that are used in papers.

If some basic screening were applied more extensively to scientific publications, with minimal effort we would be in a much better position to guarantee, or dispute, the authenticity of images within scientific papers for the benefit of science and its wider community.

Working to detect image manipulation in the world of science is a long-term battle, just as it is in photojournalism, forensics, and in any other field where image manipulation is a growing threat to the veracity of images.

Read the full article published in Laboratory News.

Image And Video Forensics In Court: Forensic Science Is Not Forensic Fiction

Images and videos are some of the most compelling forms of evidence that can be presented in a courtroom. Yet it is important that the steps we take when preparing them stand up to scrutiny.

Within the field of forensic image and video analysis one of the biggest issues we face is the CSI effect: the phenomenon whereby representations of forensic science on popular TV shows gives a distorted perception of what is possible; from endless zooming from satellite imagery to enhancing the reflection of a reflection of a reflection. We very often have to explain, even to “the experts”, what is science and what is fiction.

Enhancing images for forensic use is not just about trying a few sliders and combining filters until you see something better. Are you confident the images you present within a legal investigation would stand up to scrutiny? And do you have the procedures in place to challenge digital evidence introduced by other parties?

Read the full article published in Lawyer Monthly.

Why investigating digital video is such a ‘huge pain in the proverbial’

With CCTV probably being the number one piece of digital evidence used in cases, many officers will have asked questions like, how do I get the footage; why is it not playing; or how can I get an image? It’s important therefore to understand why we have ended up here. Why digital video, specifically from the surveillance industry, is such a huge pain in the proverbial!

As computers and digital video started to creep into normality, the surveillance companies started to think of ways to say, and prove, that they were better than the other. One of the easiest ways to do this was to use a bespoke recording method and format, to suggest that it was better than the other. This is where it starts to go pear-shaped.

Very quickly we ended up with non-standard video files, requiring a player that could not install on a Force computer, with no method to interrogate, analyze, validate or process the evidence as required by the investigation.

It has been nearly 20 years since the start of Digital Video Recorders, and you will be glad to hear that things are improving. But, it is going to take a long time for many of these poor systems to get replaced by ones that are fit for purpose.

Read the full article published on Police Oracle.

It’s time to get real about fake imagery

As technology has enabled mainstream, widespread image manipulation, it is not surprising that there has been a huge increase in the number of tampered images which find their way into a wide spectrum of industries and sectors. Incidents of doctored images frequently appear in mainstream media where they incite cries of “fake news”.

For example, a photo at the G20 summit this year featured a photoshopped president Putin, giving the impression that he was colluding with president Donald Trump.  The photo proceeded to spread like wildfire across the internet, instigating huge political ramifications from a digital fabrication which would have taken a few minutes to create on a laptop. Last August also showed our vulnerability to tampered photos, with the circulation of a photoshopped image of a shark swimming up the freeway during hurricane Harvey indicating a larger problem with major international news outlets spreading the image as genuine.

Equally there is significant evidence of doctored images being used to support fraudulent scientific research internationally. Doctored experiment results and images continue to rock the research industry with every new fraudulent revelation.   A prominent cancer research scientist in Italy has been under investigation for using a photography studio to manipulate images pivotal to the crux of the “ground breaking” research. Indeed, the journal Nature has suggested that up to 1 in 5 scientific papers contain evidence of some sort of manipulation.

It is clear therefore, that when the stakes are high enough, people will manipulate the truth, and unfortunately given our tendency to trust photographic images, it seems that it is currently worth their while to do so. When the stakes are as high as imprisonment, it is easy to see how tempting it may be to manipulate an image to support an alibi or a particular version of events.

Unfortunately, security investigations are by no means immune to this phenomenon either. In fact, given the increase in the sources of digital images, the integrity of evidence in such investigations is at its all-time most vulnerable. Body worn cameras, smart phones and increasingly sophisticated CCTV surveillance means that investigators are now dealing with a fast-growing pile of unverified evidence.

Read the full article published in The Intersec Journal of International Security.

Amped Software is one of EMEA’s Fastest-Growing Technology Companies

We are proud to announce that Amped Software ranked on the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 EMEA.

The Deloitte Technology Fast 500 program, now in its seventeenth year, is an objective
industry ranking that recognizes the fastest-growing technology companies in EMEA. This
year’s list featured 18 countries, including Belgium, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the
Netherlands, Turkey and the UK. This year’s winners were selected based on percentage
fiscal-year revenue growth from 2013 to 2016. Amped Software placed 5th in the local
ranking of the fastest growing technology companies in Italy.

“As founder of Amped Software, I am really proud that we have been acknowledged as
one of EMEA’s and Italy’s fastest growing companies in 2017. When I started the
company, I set a single objective: to develop the worldwide industry leading software for all
image and video processing needs for forensics and investigations,” said Amped Software
Founder and CEO, Martino Jerian. “The challenge was to create something unique for a
very specific type of client, aiming to be the best in the world. It was a very ambitious goal
and certainly a bit crazy, but clear and simple. And here we are today! A big thank you to
the team that believed in my vision and allowed me to develop it to the fullest.” Continue reading

Investigating Image Authenticity

This article, published in Evidence Technology Magazine, takes a look at two cases involving the authentication of digital images and the importance of the questions asked of the analyst during those investigations. It looks at how authentication software, such as Amped Authenticate has been designed with a structured workflow, to locate the puzzle pieces required to assist in answering those questions.

Read the full article here.

Only a matter of time until fake evidence leads to false convictions

With the rise of the digital age can experts trust that photographic evidence is legitimate?

Sophie Garrod, from Police Oracle, writes about how a growing number of forensic and counter-terrorism units are getting on board with pioneering image authentication software.

Approximately a third of UK forces have invested in Amped Software products – including Amped Authenticate, an all in one computer programme which can detect doctored images.

Forensic image departments, counter-terrorism units, and government departments say they are saving time and money by sending detectives on a short training course in the software.

Read the full article here to learn more.