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Cyber Cop Says Newtown Shooter's Footprints Are in Virtual 'Cloud'

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 1:14pm
Purdue University

A professor and law enforcement investigator who is also among the nation's top cyberforensics researchers says Adam Lanza's smashed hard drive is not a dead end - the Newtown, Conn., killer's communication is invariably rampant online.

Purdue University's Marcus Rogers is head of Purdue Cyber Forensics Center and trains police investigators around the world. He says obsessed gamers like Lanza live their imaginary and real lives in virtual spaces much like the rest of us use Facebook and Twitter.

"A record of what he has been playing, saying and reading is out there," Rogers says. "You just need to know where and how to look, be willing to turn over lots of stones, and have a little luck."

Rogers, also an expert in criminal pathology, said Lanza wanted the world to finally know who he was and got our attention with an unimaginably heinous act. He is keeping the spotlight on himself by slowing the search into his motives.

"If Lanza really wanted to hide his tracks, he wouldn't have used a hammer to attempt to destroy his computer," Rogers says. "That entire hard drive would be sleeping with the fish."

Rogers says researchers in the United Kingdom are extracting information from the most distressed hard drives using sophisticated technology developed by the KGB. But even if Lanza shredded his hard drive into confetti, Rogers said Lanza's digital footprints are in the third-party servers that record all of our online discourse, including email.

Rogers is a fellow at the Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security doing research focused on psychological profiling, applied cyberforensics and cyberterrorism. He has been featured in an array of national publications on these topics.

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