Brazilian digital forensics lab fights faked evidence

Anderson de Rezende Rocha fights against contrived image and video evidence

The question whether a photo showing you pulling off a mask after robbing a bank is real or fake may decide if you go to jail or not. For his research on digital video and image forensics, Anderson de Rezende Rocha from the Brazilian University of Campinas has been elected as one of this year's Microsoft Research Faculty Fellows.

The 30-year-old is an assistant professor at the university's Institute of Computing. His research focuses on digital evidence that law enforcement authorities in Brazil use to convict criminals.

Rocha's work takes two approaches to digital material. First, his research aims at detecting spoofing, attempts to cheat systems such as fingerprint or facial recognition. The second core area of his work is to develop tools to reveal forgery, the act of faking digital images or videos. "In Brazil we have had many cases where someone, for example, tried to damage the public image of a politician," he said.

Recently he was asked to inspect eight different digital images showing a Brazilian politician involved in child pornography. Rocha determined that these images were fake. Algorithms he and his team have developed helped him to reveal the Photoshop fraud. "When somebody puts two images together you very often find inconsistencies," he said. For instance, the shadows on a person's face do not match to the illumination of the surroundings. What sometimes is hard for the human eye to see, the lab's tools are able to detect.

Rocha is also capable of declaring footage to be real. Recently a surveillance camera at a gas station filmed a man getting out of his car and beating the clerk with a baseball bat. After being caught the suspect declared the video to be manipulated. "We were able to prove that it was not," said Rocha.

Very often he works as a consultant to the police. However, this work also raises new questions for him as a researcher. "They submit very difficult problems to us, for most of which we do not have solutions yet," Rocha said. Also, the evolving capabilities of image processing software consistently raise new challenges. "It's a cat and mouse game," the researcher said.

So far, Rocha collaborates with security authorities in Brazil only. However, he said police abroad could make use of his research results, too. An international conference in December will bring international forensics researchers to Brazil. Rocha is one of the organizers of the "IEEE International Workshop on Information Forensics and Security" that will take place in Foz do Iguaçu. He said people working with the international police organization Interpol were among those invited to the conference.

Rocha said winning the fellowship was a big motivator to him and his students. "It means my research is being recognized as having potential to help people and change the world somehow," he said.

Even though he said the recognition of his work was more important to him than the amount of money coming with the fellowship, Rocha already has some plans on how to spend the grant. He said he is now able to partially fund a newly opened research laboratory at the university dealing with digital document forensics. Four Ph.D. students, six master's students and one undergraduate student work there, Rocha said. The Digital Forensics Laboratory is associated with a major lab dealing with pattern analysis and machine learning.

Rocha said he will also use the money to provide students with the resources to go to conferences to discuss their research.

Rocha received his bachelor's degree in computer science from Federal University of Lavras in 2003. He received a master's degree (2006) and Ph.D. (2009) in computer science from the Institute of Computing, University of Campinas, Brazil.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags popular scienceMicrosoft

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Nicolas Zeitler

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?