Forensic collection of UAVs/drones

Forensic collection of UAVs/drones

Proper forensic analysis of anything starts with proper forensic collection of whatever it is that needs to be analyzed. UAVs are no different. As noted in an earlier post, there are a lot of components in a UAV system – radio controller, ground station, data/video link, and of course the aircraft itself.

We developed a UAS Acquisition Form to assist law enforcement and other interested parties in the collection process.

The form guides the evidence technician through the steps to collect the following items:

  • The UAV
  • The ground control station. This is normally a traditional mobile device running vendor or third party applications to control the drone
  • The radio controller, which generally looks like a large game controller with two joy sticks and one or more antennas
  • Any additional media cards or mobile devices associated with the operation of the drone
  • Any data/video link equipment
  • Any related equipment such as batteries, cases, and SD cards

The form is intended as a guide and the reader should evaluate and adjust the form to align with his or her own policies, requirements, and workflow.

It also reminds the technician to photograph the scene, tag the evidence, and photograph the evidence.

This process is not just for law enforcement. It applies to anyone who might encounter a UAV that was used inappropriately.

Suggestions, comments, and feedback are welcome.

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