05 Nov

Dark Web Monitoring: A New Approach to Threat Intelligence and Risk Management

Forensic Pathways have developed their own in-house ‘dark web crawler’ for monitoring the dark web for potential data breaches and/or threats. The software has been built to refine and enhance your threat intelligence and risk management process. By incorporating the dark web monitoring into your processes you increase your visibility of the dark web and reduce the risk of exposure to your company, your data and your reputation.

The dark web lives up to its name, creating a platform that allows users to operate on the web whilst remaining in the shadows and avoiding detection from law enforcement. A community of cyber criminals now thrives on the dark web due to the levels of anonymity and lack of traceability reducing risks for criminals, who have created a community of advertising, discussing, buying and selling of illicit goods and personal information.

From guns to guides, stolen data to sensitive, confidential information, there is a market and a marketplace for everything; you can find a buyer and seller for almost anything illicit. This can create a crisis for businesses.

There are established marketplaces operating much like eBay, where sellers advertise what they have for sale, allowing buyers to review the offering and the sellers, all of whom are graded and ranked, helping other potential buyers to identify ‘legit’ sellers.


Figure 1 An example of an advert for a banking template found on a popular dark web marketplace. Identity of exploited company protected due to being a house hold name

Figure 2 An example of the review and ranking system of vendors

There are forums dedicated to discussing, sharing and selling valuable and exploitable information, from identified network frailties to stolen company data.

Unlike the ‘open web’ (the internet we use daily), the dark web is not indexed. This means that it can be very difficult to search for and detect specific information. However, as this labyrinth of information and intelligence cannot be neglected, Forensic Pathways opted to deliver a solution that could revolutionize how we identify and process intelligence found on the dark web.

Drawing on over 10 years of due diligence and open source intelligence experience, the company recognized that replicating services and techniques utilized in open web due on the dark web would create new opportunity for the company and its clients.

After conducting rigorous analysis on consumer needs, market trends and competitor offerings, Forensic Pathways have launched a new dark web monitoring and investigations solution that will significantly increase the scope and visibility of intelligence, offering clients a more robust, thorough and proactive solution to brand reputation and threat intelligence.
Forensic Pathways have developed our own in-house crawler, capable of crawling, harvesting and storing data that is searchable through a secure, password protected search engine. This allows users to not only draw on historic findings and locate possible threats, it also allows users to create an alerting system that will identify specific search terms and key words. Furthermore, our crawler is not restricted. There is no ‘focus crawl’ – we feel that vital information could be hidden away in the cracks and crevasses of the dark web, and so we have developed a solution that will blanket search multiple platforms within the dark web, ensuring investigations cover all angles and provide maximum visibility.

Figure 3 An example of the dark web search engine in use

Figure 4 The above search for ‘bitcoin’ found over 500,000 items in 38 milliseconds

This is just the beginning. Forensic Pathways have a very exciting pipeline and have ambitious aspirations for delivering the most innovative, thorough and robust dark web monitoring and investigation services. The capabilities the company will be adding to the current solution will revolutionise how we use the dark web as part of our threat intelligence and risk management processes.

For more information on dark web monitoring and investigation services and software offered by Forensic Pathways please contact [email protected] or call 0121 250 3642.

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05 Nov

Dark web monitoring: A new service from Forensic Pathways

The sale of drugs, weapons, personal information/data, illegal pornography and intellectual property is readily available to buy on the Dark Web as buyers/sellers can browse anonymously with ease. According to the World Economic Forums Global Risk Report (2018) cyber security attacks are the third-largest threat facing the world. The dark web plays a massive role in this global issue…

The dark web is still relatively new to most of us. Its anonymity has been exploited as an underground criminal platform for some time, however, there are not many companies currently operating within the field of dark web monitoring and investigation. As a company who always strives for innovation, Forensic Pathways feels it can help shape and develop the industry ensuring the solutions available are able to provide robust protection across industry sectors. Unfortunately for business the threat of the dark web is ever growing. Coupled with GDPR regulations organisations need to be prepared for cyber security attacks and data breaches. More companies are looking to the dark web as a means of protecting themselves from such exploitation. Forensic Pathways anticipate that, as always, criminals will continue to utilise the dark web and introduce more innovative ways to commit crimes without being caught, and as such, we envisage a great and growing need to continue to combat these threats by providing innovative technologies that will help identify and understand the illegal activity that occurs.

Forensic Pathways has developed its own in-house dark web crawler actively crawling and indexing the dark web, with over 15 thousand domains already visited. The crawler feeds harvested information into a searchable database that provides easy, prompt and accurate results when key search terms are entered by the investigator. Forensic Pathways has worked in multiple industry sectors, on dark web monitoring projects, including a nationwide anti-fraud assignment ran in collaboration with leading fraud detection agency, Cifas, who manage the National Fraud Database (UK).

There are some barriers for organisations wishing to monitor the dark web. For example, a large proportion of the websites on the dark web focus on drug/human trafficking, child pornography, and theft. Therefore browsing can be highly dangerous and/ or cause significant distress. For these reasons organisations wishing to monitor and investigate key words/phrases are likely to resist permitting employees to use platforms, such as Tor and I2P to search the dark web. Additionally, Forensic Pathways discovered that a large proportion of the dark web monitoring software solutions on the market requires users to ‘browse’ the dark web… Forensic Pathways has a solution – ‘Dark Web Monitoring As A Service’. 


For more information please contact
[email protected] or call 0121 250 3642

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29 Jun

Source Camera Identification Using Forensic Image Analyser

Source Camera Identification Using Forensic Image Analyser (FIA) 

The Problem

Police Forces, intelligence agencies and digital forensic investigators recover huge amounts of images from laptops, mobile phones, storage devices (hard drives, pen drives) and the internet. Often these images need to be analysed to ascertain the source device (camera, cell phone) that was used to photograph the image(s), especially when investigating child sexual abuse (CSE) content.

A suspect might claim he/she didn’t photograph an illegal image(s) and simply downloaded the content by accident. For example in the recent Lee Mathews case https://www.forensic-pathways.com/new-forensic-image-technology-achieves-success-in-major-child-abuse-case/. Or, an investigator in a case may recover 500 illegal images on a hard drive and needs to quickly ascertain which of the images were photographed by the same device. In counter terrorism cases a suspect might be arrested with potential intelligence on their cell phone, for example ‘hate symbols’. These are just some examples where the ability to link images to devices is critical.

Currently Police Forces use ‘meta data’ to identify the make and model of the device that photographed an image(s).  However, meta and exif data can be removed and/or edited by suspects and criminal networks.  Furthermore, the process cannot distinguish between two devices that are the same make/model.

Another technique being used by analysts to classify images is the use of ‘hash sums’. However, if an image ascertain has been edited in any way the hash sum will change. This is not ideal when images are shared in their millions each day and automatically edited by internet sites. Consequently Police Forces need a robust and scientifically proven methodology for linking ‘images to devices’ and ‘images to images’.

The challenge for law enforcement is being able to speed up investigations, improve efficiencies and reduce unnecessary costs. Consequently, Forensic Pathways has developed a software https://www.forensic-pathways.com/forensic-image-analyser/ tool that can automatically identify the source device (camera, mobile phone) that photographed a particular image(s).

The Solution

Forensic Pathways Limited (FPL) has developed a peer reviewed, scientifically proven methodology for identifying the source device that photographed a particular images(s). The algorithm has been used successfully in a number of UK child sexual exploitation cases.  See www.forensic-pathways.com for more information. 

Forensic Image Analyser (FIA) extracts a latent feature, known as, Sensor Pattern Noise (SPN) from digital images. SPN occurs due to the natural imperfections in the silicon chip and varying pixel sensitivity to light in the sensor of the camera. The uniqueness of these defects makes SPN a natural digital ‘fingerprint’. Importantly, SPN can be used to differentiate between imaging devices of the same model. For example, the software can distinguish between the camera fingerprints of two iPhone 6 devices.  It is important to note that these SPN fingerprints contain no content. Thus the fingerprints can be shared without compromising security.

‘Standard SPN’ fingerprints are contaminated by scene details in the image, which leads to misidentifications. This is not at all helpful in forensic terms. Therefore, the use of standard SPN in forensics will not produce the required results. FPL has developed a unique ‘SPN enhancer’ (patents GB2467767, GB2486987, EU 2396749, USA8565529) that removes contamination from the standard SPN fingerprints and allows for higher identification rates.

There are two scenarios where FIA can be applied, namely image identification and image classification.  These are described below.


An example where the FIA Identifier can be used is when an investigator has recovered a memory stick with a number of illegal images and a smart phone from a suspect. The suspect denies that the illegal photos were taken using the phone. The investigator can use the Identifier to create a fingerprint for the camera and extract the digital fingerprint for each image. The Identifier will then match all the fingerprints obtained from the images against the camera fingerprint.

The FIA Identifier allows users to link digital media to imaging devices.

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 11.43.47


A second scenario occurs when an investigator has recovered a laptop, memory stick and external hard drive, all containing digital photos. Some of these photos contain illegal content while others are innocent photos that were taken by the suspect’s camera. The FIA Classifier can be used to group all the images recovered according to the imaging device that created them. If both the illegal and innocent images are placed in the same group, it will show that they were taken from the same camera.Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 11.43.53

The FIA Classifier allows users to group together images that were created by the same imaging device.

For more information or to arrange a FREE TRIAL please contact [email protected]

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15 Oct

Stepping Plate inventor wins Inspiring Leader & S.T.E.M. Award!

Deborah Leary (OBE), Forensic Pathways CEO won the Inspiring Leader 2015 award at the Forward Ladies Midlands Women in Business Awards (WIBA) regional final.

Deb was also awarded with the Science, Engineering, Technology & Manufacturing (STEM) Award on the evening in Nottingham which was hosted by Charlene White (ITV Presenter). Amazingly Debs daughter Lizze managed to scoop Young Entrepreneur at the awards show.  Lizze is the owner of Kindred Sole, a Birmingham based designer show company. Deb will now compete in the National Finals taking place in Leeds on the 20th November.  Deb said: “I am absolutely delighted to win both of these awards. There are so many inspirational women in the UK, to be chosen in the regional finals is really quite humbling….Also to receive the award for STEM is absolutely fantastic and highlights the fantastic achievements of the whole team at Forensic Pathways.”

Deb invented the transparent Anti-contamination Stepping Plates.  Importantly, it is now standard protocol to use Stepping Plates at all major scenes in order to create a pathway through a scene thereby ensuring a methodical, clinical approach to the preservation and gathering of trace evidence  Their award-winning transparent anti-contamination Stepping Plates are available in two sizes and in a range of kit combinations dependent upon client needs.  Forensic Pathways also develops forensic software for law enforcement and offers due diligence services for businesses.

*UPDATE* After winning the Inspiring Leader 2015 award at the Regional Finals, Deb Leary OBE went on to win the award at the 2015 WIBA National Finals! A big congratulations to our CEO!

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24 Sep

Forensic Pathways are delighted to announce its official support of the Dot.Com Children’s Foundation

Forensic Pathways are delighted to announce its official support of the Dot.Com Children’s Foundation, announced at the recent Association of Superintendents’ Conference. Forensic Pathways has made a commitment to supporting the charity, promoting the fantastic work the charity does in empowering children to practice positive values and make safer choices in life.

The Value Versus Violence Education Programme has been developed to provide children with an awareness of risk and risk management and is supported by the Home Office. The programme is intended to be a continuing journey throughout childhood, beginning from when the children are 5 years old, and continuing into their teenage years. The lessons cover the most difficult and sensitive issues that face children and give pupils the skills to know how to ask for help.

The primary school children are given age compatible journals to work through in class, usually with their teacher but sometimes with input from partnership agencies. Each journal is accompanied by a guide for the teacher or lesson provider. The secondary school education package is accessible on line and entirely free of charge at www.vvvuk.com..

The Dot Com programme of work covers all aspects of PHSE and with great depth, looks at aspects of PREVENT, radicalisation, child exploitation, e-safety and rights and responsibilities.

As part of Forensic Pathways support the Company is delighted to sponsor the forthcoming Inspiring Children’s Award 2016.  The event is being held at Aston Villa Football Club on the 3rd June 2016 with nominations opening on the 1st November 2015.  So if you know of a child that inspires you, please go to http://dotcomcf.org/news/inspiring-childrens-awards-2016

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07 Sep

Winners of Digital Forensics of the year Award 2015

fpawardForensic Pathways is delighted to announce that it has been awarded the Digital Forensic Award 2015 by Forensic Insider and Security Insider Magazine. This is the second time the Company has won the Award. The first time being 2013.

Its path-breaking endeavours have led to the company winning a variety of awards both for itself as a whole and also for its innovative technologies, culminating in the Digital Forensics Award 2015 awarded by Forensics Insider and Security Insider magazines.

According to publications’ judging panel, the cutting edge technologies being offered by Forensic Pathways was particularly impressive. The panel said that the company not only catered for the criminal side of things but also the business intelligence side. It further said that the judges unanimously agreed that the range of technologies offered by Forensic Pathways was the best in the sector.

Low-ResForensic Pathways 3Speaking on the win, Ben Leary says: “We are absolutely delighted. Winning the award is testament to the progress Forensics Pathways is making in the world of digital forensics. It shows that we are driving forward in the right direction and, more importantly, that we are providing a solution to a number of problems previously uncatered for.

“Winning the award is also an affirmation from the industry that what we have created has a real value. It affirms we have a created a strong base on which to move forward.”

He believes that the versatility of its product portfolio and the uniqueness of its cutting-edge technology would have definitely contributed towards the win.

“The fact that a large number of law enforcement agencies are incorporating our technology into their policies on a global level is a great indication that what we are doing is helping redefine how crime is combated, and helping implement new methods that can help law enforcement deal with a variety of threats including cyber.” 

Forensic Pathways has also seen much success in the provision of Due Diligence and Fraud Investigation Services to the public and private sector. Working with large international corporate clients has been one of Forensic Pathways many successes.

Ben Leary says “We carry out due diligence to mitigate the risk of partnering with an individual or business whose existing or previous activities or relationships may cause legal, regulatory, reputational or financial damage. Our Fraud Investigation service enables fast collection and analysis of evidence to ensure that crucial decisions can be made to stop further losses and reverse engineer the process to make sure lessons are learnt and new procedures put in place to avoid repeat occurrences. Our technical ability in terms of developing algorithms to ask the right questions of data, coupled with a sound ability in digital forensic data recovery, linked with sound investigation skills ensures the Company is able to offer a complete package. Understanding how to get to the data, how to analyse the data and make sense of that data is a core strength of within team.”

“I also believe that we reflect an ethos of doing ‘good business’. We want all our stakeholders to feel valued and feel that they are getting value. Trust, integrity and a commitment to helping shape the future of forensics globally for the protection of others is hopefully what has come through. It is certainly what we aim for.”

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07 Sep
11 Mar
09 Feb

Dr Richard Leary invited to attend 16th edition of SIFTECH

Dr Richard Leary invited to attend 16th edition of SIFTECH



Since its launch in 1995, SIFTECH has developed into an important event exhibiting the future direction and development of technology. The 2015 International Exhibition of the Future of Technology will see Algiers host the 16th edition of SIFTECH.

Placed under the patronage of the Minister of Post and Information Communication Technology, the 16th edition of SIFTECH will gather national and international businesses and stakeholders operating in the field of emerging technologies of information and communication. Attendees will be invited to observe the approach to strengthening telecommunications infrastructure and securing data and networks.

Dr Richard Leary MBE, Managing Director of Forensic Pathways, has been invited to attend the event which is focused on Data and Network Security. Dr Leary will deliver a speech about cyber security, including the direction of the cyber security industry as well as the use of new technologies used to enhance cyber defences, such as FPL’s Forensic Image Analyser.

The event will take place between the 24th – 26th February in the Palace of Culture, Alger.

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21 Jan

FPL invited to UKTI Defence & Security Organisation’s New Year Event

Dr Richard Leary MBE, Managing Director of Forensic Pathways, has been invited by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to join Lord Livingston and Phillip Hammond in attendance of the UKTI Defence & Security Organisation’s New Year Event.

Forensic Pathways has been recognised for its contribution in the development, trade and export of cyber technology, such as Forensic Image Analyser© and its commitment to the further evolution of internationally deployed ballistic equipment.

Through successful collaborations, Forensic Pathways has introduced a number of cyber defence technologies to foreign markets, and is looking forward to another year operating at the forefront of Digital Forensics.

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