Hacking Tools Get Peer Reviewed, Too

From: The Atlantic

A government-led effort paves the way for data extracted from electronic devices to be accepted as evidence in court.

Kaveh Waddell

In September 2002, less than a year after Zacarias Moussaoui was indicted by a grand jury for his role in the 9/11 attacks, Moussaoui’s lawyers lodged an official complaint about how the government was handling digital evidence. They questioned the quality of the tools the government had used to extract data from some of the more than 200 hard drives that were submitted as evidence in the case—including one from Moussaoui’s own laptop.

When the government fired back, it leaned on a pair of official documents for backup: two reports produced by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) that described the workings of the software tools in detail. The documents showed that the tools were the right ones for extracting information from those devices, the government lawyers argued, and that they had a track record of doing so accurately.


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