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Secure Digital Forensic Imaging (SDFI). SDFI is a specific process that ensures fast, safe and secure capture, storage and delivery of digital forensic evidence.

The process consists of three distinct parts:

1) A high resolution digital SLR imaging device configured specifically for forensic examinations. A defined photo documentation process should be followed to ensure effective and consistent evidence collection.

2) Secure storage for all digital evidence using high level encryption of data. This ensures that all evidence is secure and privacy laws are strictly adhered to (Example: HIPAA).

3) Telemedicine capabilities allowing evidence to be sent over the internet in digital form. All data must be encrypted to maintain privacy laws and Chain of Custody.


Secure Digital Forensic Imaging is applied in many fields but most notably by forensic nurses in sexual assault programs. This technology is designed to replace the colposcope. Colposcope technology is based on a lens system developed primarily for cervical exams in 1925 and has been used for various forensic purposes since. Digital SLR imaging allows for clear, high resolution photos with "depth of field" and/or "depth of focus" that cannot be achieved through the older lens systems due to their limited optics. Attaching a digital capture device to look through a colposcope's lens system will suffer the limitations inherent to the older lens system's design.


Secure digital forensic imaging is a marriage of technology and law as it is applied to the collection and handling of digital evidence. Digital images collected during exams become evidence and therefore must remain authentic (according to the Federal Rules of Evidence), meet privacy requirements (HIPAA) and the evidence must be transferred between parties in accordance with federal law (Chain of Custody). The Secure Digital Forensic Imaging process ensures legal requirements are achieved through:

  • Privacy laws must be adhered to to maintain the integrity of evidence. High level encrypted storage of data (images) limits physical and visual access to the appropriate individuals.
  • The Chain of Custody is maintained through the use of an encrypted Telemedicine system. This ensures appropriate access and secure communication channels in all instances.

Digital evidence collection should meet or exceed guidelines set by SWGIT and SWGDE to qualify as a SDFI process.

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