IntaForensics Lima Forensic Case Management
Strengths: Solid case management and record keeping tool with everything you will need to manage a full lab, a law enforcement digital forensics facility or a small practice.
Weaknesses: None that we found.
Verdict: Case management is a task that digital investigators tend to relegate to spreadsheets or whatever notebooks they can find. Something far more rigorous is needed and this is it. Again this year. we make Lima SC Lab Approved. We will be using it over the next year in our research cases and we’ll report on it in 12 months.
This is a product that we have been using for about four years and it changes very little. That is not to say that it doesn't add functionality - it does - but the look and feel always is comfortable. We should go back a bit and point out that the first time we reviewed this tool we pointed out that, to our knowledge, there was no other pure-play case management tool dedicated to digital forensic investigations except for Lima. As far as we know, that still is the case.
The inclusion of case management in digital forensic tools is becoming much more common, but there are some functions in Lima that we don't find anywhere else. Let's start with the granularity of the information. In court, forensic evidence has two aspects: what you know and what you can prove. Without the latter, the former is not very useful. Being able to prove often comes down to provenance and chain of custody. Knowing everything there is to know about the management and life history of a piece of digital evidence is as important - some would say more important - than the nature of the evidence itself.
This is far more important with digital evidence than with many other types of physical evidence because digital evidence is fragile and easy to alter, sometimes imperceptibly. Being able to trace people, processes, evidence samples, storage, passage of evidence from one investigator to another and the general reliability of the evidence is critical. That is what Lima is all about. But, as they say on the TV infomercials, wait! There's more!
Running an efficient forensic lab means knowing who (and where) your suppliers are, what tools you have available, who your staff are and what their skills/jobs are, as well as costs for running and supplying the lab. Lima helps you keep track of all of this. For example, suppose that you have a digital forensic investigator in another state and you need to assign someone to a particular case. Is he or she the right one?
One of the things that we noticed in set up was that the wizards are much simpler than in years past. Getting set up was straightforward with one exception: We had a bit of trouble running the upgrade from the prior year's version. Once that was settled we saw the same comfortable layout we were used to. Our first task was to install the administrator and the client. These are two separate programs. When you log into the administrator for the first time you can set up your infrastructure. However, we recommend that you stay with the defaults to start and move on to the client.
Once the client is in you login as administrator. There is very little that you can do as administrator besides create users and offices. You should create your first office and your first user giving the user admin rights. Then log back in as your new user and begin adding cases. You can go back to the administrator module and customize it just about any way you want. The backend database is extremely flexible and you can add fields for just about anything you wish. In most cases, you won't need to add much - the schema is very complete - but you may need to do some initial setup for things such as adding users in various categories and adding vendors and other resources.
The documentation for this product is first-rate. We found everything we needed, except for a couple of exotic issues, and Lima support was right on top of those for us. The website is complete and we found the pricing very reasonable given what this can do for you. Just a side note: If you are running a lab and seeking accreditation, Lima can be your best friend. Accreditations usually are a lot about record-keeping and that is this product's reason for existing. Just about every type of record you can imagine is accommodated, but if there is something you need that it doesn't support you can add it to the database very easily.