In a world where more and more of our lives are captured and organised in the digital universe, officers like Mohamad Ridzuan are trained to sniff out clues in the expanding virtual world.
Picture this: You are a police officer chasing a suspect on the run. In a frenzy, the suspect’s mobile phone flies from his hand and plunges down to the cold, hard ground. The screen cracks. The power button no longer responds. What happens then to the valuable information stored within the phone that could potentially help solve a case?
Call Ridzuan to your rescue before you fret. He might just be able to tap into it and extract its data, retrieving the information you thought had vanished along with the demise of the phone.
Specialising in mobile forensics, his job is to extract data from the mobile phones of alleged criminals. Sounds quite like the Sherlock Holmes of the mobile universe.
The detective does indeed have a lot of work to do; considering that Singapore has the highest mobile phone penetration rate in the world, with nine in 10 of us owning one.
With a polytechnic diploma in computer engineering already in hand, he went on to pursue a degree in computer science at Nanyang Technological University. Immediately upon graduation in 2016, he joined the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
When police officers seize digital devices like laptops and mobile phones from crime scenes, it usually ends up on the desks of digital forensics officers like Ridzuan.
Analysing and recovering digital evidence is a meticulous process, which requires that I be proficient with an array of specialised tools.
The data he extracts can range from incriminating photos, to messages and emails. “Analysing and recovering digital evidence is a meticulous process, which requires that I be proficient with an array of specialised tools,” he said.
Sometimes, he visits crime scenes with the police.
On occasion, he also testifies in court as an expert witness.
To do his job, Ridzuan reveals that what it takes is continual stamina to learn and re-learn.
“New technologies are emerging all the time. With better encryption, everything is increasingly more secure and it is a growing challenge to extract data,” he said. Indeed, it is always a challenge to contend against the currents.
How he stays relevant is by regularly attending courses and working with vendors and forensic software providers, so that he is constantly aware of the latest updates in the scene.
The digital forensics specialist is even pursuing a part-time Masters of Science in Security by Design course over two years, offered by the Singapore University of Technology and Design and sponsored by MHA.
Ultimately, he is excited at the prospect of possibly being able to diversify his scope of work at HTX in future, for the fundamental trait of technology is its ever-evolving quality.
Ridzuan says with an open mind, “With an increase in areas of forward-looking research, there are a lot of areas which we could potentially choose to specialise in, in future.”