Collecting Emails Using Suspects' Existing Login Session

Depending on applicable legislation, some law enforcement agencies have authority to forensically collect a suspect’s emails using an existing login session while executing a search warrant. However, agencies often do not have the authority to log into the suspect’s account after the fact—while performing analysis in the lab.

This presents a window of opportunity where agents can forensically acquire emails of an uncooperating suspect on-site.  Forensic Email Collector supports this workflow for Gmail / G Suite accounts via FEC Remote Authenticator.

Preparation

It is helpful to do the following ahead of time in preparation for the on-site work:

  • Download FEC Remote Authenticator and copy it to a sanitized flash drive that will be inserted into the suspect’s computer. FEC Remote Authenticator is a self-contained executable which does not require installation or a license key.
  • Install the full Forensic Email Collector software on the agency laptop.
  • Depending on your license type, take your FEC dongle with you, or activate FEC on the agency laptop.

On-site Workflow Using Existing Login Session

While executing the search warrant, agents can forensically collect the suspect’s emails as follows:

  • Plug the flash drive containing FEC Remote Authenticator into the suspect’s computer.
  • Execute FEC Remote Authenticator, enter the suspect’s email address and click “AUTHENTICATE”.

  • This will cause the default web browser on the suspect’s computer to be launched. Since the suspect is already logged in using their default web browser, Google will not ask for credentials.

  • Click "ALLOW".

  • Click "SAVE" and save the encrypted authentication token to the agency flash drive.
  • Disconnect the flash drive from the suspect's computer and connect it to the agency laptop with the full installation of FEC.
  • Launch FEC on the agency laptop and switch to the "Remote Authentication" page.
  • Import the encrypted authentication token using the "IMPORT TOKEN" button.

  • You can now enter the target email address and acquire the mailbox without having to enter credentials. You can even use FEC's in-place search capabilities to search and filter the mailbox before the acquisition and collect only the relevant emails.
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