New York pledges state-of-the-art cybercrime lab

Police said no charges wet filed and the case is closed. Credit: Rikard Larma / Metro
Police said no charges wet filed and the case is closed. Credit: Rikard Larma / Metro

The city is pouring millions into a state-of-the-art cybercrime lab, giving New York’s law enforcement unprecedented new abilities to pore through suspects’ computers and phones.

The Council announced $4.2 million in funding today to expand the Manhattan district attorney’s High Technology Analysis Unit, a cybercrime lab that already exists but will now be bigger and more powerful.

The money will also allow prosecutors to dramatically increase the number of smartphones they can pore through in the hopes of crime solving.

“In this day and age, we need to be as sophisticated as criminals,” Speaker Christine Quinn said.

Smartphones are increasingly being used to help nab criminals. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said his office takes in more phones than they have time to analyze as quickly as they would like.

The number of computers analyzed by the D.A.’s Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau increased 200 percent from 2010 to 2011, and the office investigated 1,000 phones last year, Vance said.

Just last summer, he said, the ability to sift through private computers helped them create a case against 26 defendants accused of trading photos of children being sexually assaulted. In fact, nearly every case the D.A.’s office prosecutes has some type of cybercrime element – from identity theft to checking the GPS history on a murder suspect’s smartphone, Vance said.

“You essentially leave digital breadcrumbs,” he said.

Giving investigators greater ease to troll through personal phones quickly is important, Vance said. He noted that after an arrest, prosecutors have six working days to indict someone or release them.

“Speed matters,” he said.

Officials said they hope new technology in Manhattan will be a model for police around the county.

The new part of the lab is expected to open by next year.

How does the souped-up new lab work?

The cybercrime unit’s chief, David Szuchman, said one huge improvement will be efficiency of analyzing phones.

When analyzing smartphones, they must be offline so they cannot interact with the provider, he said. Right now, investigators put their hands and the phone into a box outfitted to block access to the phone. In the new lab addition, he said, they can build an entire room that shields the phones.

How to avoid being a victim of identity theft

Identity theft is rampant, Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance said. Here are some tips New Yorkers can use to prevent becoming a victim:

Look at your bills carefully – make sure all the purchases are ones you have made.

When you go to an ATM, look at where you’re sliding your card in – some thieves use “skimmers” that they attach to the ATM to steal your info. They will have, for example, fake buttons.

Put your hand over the keypad when you enter your PIN.

Officials victims of cybercrime, too

Vance and Council members recounted instances they had been cybercrime victims. Upper West Side Councilwoman Gale Brewer told of seeing unfamiliar purchases on her bill and going to the Bronx to confront the thief, which turned out to be a false address. Washington Heights Councilman Robert Jackson said that just this morning at 3 a.m., he received a hoax email from a friend purporting to be stuck in Europe and asking him to send money.  Quinn said her wife noticed someone had bought expensive plane tickets to London and Abu Dhabi. And even Vance said he saw in his bill 10 days ago charges to Dunkin’ Donuts and Trader Joe’s that he had not made.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 22,…

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K and NYC Family Health Walk-a-thon and Pakistan Day Parade and Fair will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend. Plan…

International

U.N. nuclear inquiry on Iran seen making slow…

The U.N. nuclear watchdog appears to have made only limited progress so far in getting Iran to answer questions about its suspected atomic bomb research, diplomatic sources said on Friday,…

National

Violence-weary Missouri town sees second night of calm

By Nick Carey and Carey GillamFERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) - The violence-weary town of Ferguson, Missouri, saw a second straight evening of relative calm on Thursday…

National

Journalist James Foley's parents, after call with pope,…

The parents of James Foley, the American journalist killed by Islamic State militants in Iraq, on Friday called for prayer and support to free the remaining captives held by Islamic…

Television

Recap: 'The Knick,' Season 1, Episode 3, 'The…

The third episode of Steven Soderbergh's "The Knick" finds Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) meeting an old flame and other characters embracing self-destruction.

Music

Webcast: Watch Polyphonic Spree live on Sunday Aug.…

Polyphonic Spree singer Tim DeLaughter sits with Metro Music Editor Pat Healy for a chat and then the big band performs live. It begins on Sunday at 9:30 pm

Movies

Matthew Weiner on directing 'Are You Here' and…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner discusses his movie "Are You Here," his history writing comedy and the tiny movie he directed in 1996 you can't see.

Movies

Michael Chiklis on his football past and 'When…

Michael Chiklis remembers playing football in high school and how that prepped him to play a coach in "When the Game Stands Tall."

NFL

3 things we learned about the Giants in…

The Giants claimed the Snoopy trophy in a battle of MetLife Stadium tenants Friday night. But more importantly, the offense finally showed some life in…

NFL

3 things we learned about the Jets in…

The Jets lost the Snoopy Bowl, 35-24, to the Giants, losing the trophy and local bragging rights.

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

Wellbeing

Asics is giving away free gear around NYC…

Asics wants to see you on the court - and in the stands for the U.S. Open, which begins Monday - by giving away free…

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…