Lima Digital Forensic Case Management Standard
Strengths: This tool screams “organisation.” If tracking cases was all it did, it still would be worth a close look. But, this is more than a case management tool – it is a lab management tool – with all that implies.
Weaknesses: It could be easier to set up, but with the training recommended users should have no real difficulty. It took us five hours with no training.
Verdict: Having set this up and started to use it, we cannot imagine running a digital forensics lab of any size without it. Recommended.
We have been watching this one for a long time. It is completely unique in that it is the only pure digital forensic case management tool of which we are aware. Each year it just gets better and better. That said, deploying and using it initially are not for the faint of heart. There is a good reason why the vendor wants users to take training. Without training, it took us about five hours to set it up and figure out how to use it. Once we had that hurdle crossed, though, we could not wait to enter into it every case we're working on in our lab.
This is a one-stop repository for evidence, contact lists, employee time records and resource inventories. With this tool users can manage cases, track staff activity, analyse staff efficiency and track the efficiency of tools and techniques. If that sounds like a lot, it is. It takes a whale of a product to do all of this, but this one delivers.
Lima is a client-server solution. The first thing to do is set up the server and the administrator tool. That is a long process and, since this tool comes from the UK, there is some language that was not immediately familiar. The documentation is first rate, though, and with a little digging we found what we needed. The backend database is MS SQL Server, either the full product or the smaller free version. We selected that one because it is included and it deploys automatically. Both the 2005 and 2008 versions are supported.
Users need to set up the database from scratch once it is installed, but the product walks you a step at a time through the process, and the documentation fills in where the cues from the program leave off. One word of advice here: Set up the entire database with as much basic information as possible. When you go to enter your first case, you will need it all. We didn't, and that meant that we had to return to database setup to add things we forgot in the first round.
The tool helps track how long a user is taking to perform various tasks, such as imaging, and pricing can be setup as well. In general, we cannot think of any aspect of case and lab management that this tool does not do. If you are going for accreditation of your lab, you absolutely need this. If you are doing more than a few cases a month, this will be a huge help, and if you have several forensic analysts this will help you track their activities.
IntaForensics offers unlimited technical support for 12 months included in the license cost. Support is delivered via an online dedicated support portal through which requests can be logged and responses handled quickly. Where necessary, web conferences, telephone or email contact can be initiated as a result of a support ticket. After the first 12 months after the support option expires, customers may purchase a contract that offers unlimited technical assistance, including all maintenance and feature upgrades.
In short, we loved this tool, even at the rather high price of about £3850. The savings in efficiency engendered by the rigorous use of Lima over time will more than pay dividends.
Prices are US-based, thus indicative only.