The first 'Hansken Community Day', organised by the NFI on 9 and 10 December, was all about exchanging international knowledge and experience with dozens of current and prospective users of Hansken, the new digital forensic search engine. Hansken was developed by the NFI and an increasing number of organisations from a wide variety of countries are using the digital forensic search engine, such as the Norwegian police. Over 100 participants from eight different countries took part in this online event.

Hansken allows you to search through immense quantities of digital data in no time. This will enable investigative services to search huge volumes of data seized from criminals. For example, Hansken was used to search through data seized from Encrochat, a chat service used by many criminals as they believed the police would not be able to intercept their messages.

Working together to make Hansken even better

The community is important to the lasting success of Hansken. "Hansken can be seen as a sort of tech company, except it's non-profit," says the NFI's Hans Henseler, one of the organisers of the community. "The technology is still in development and different apps, opportunities and functionalities are appearing all the time. Now that Encrochat has been cracked, criminals are once again investigating new opportunities to escape the attention of the police and the justice system and Hansken must therefore also continue to develop. We can't do this alone and we can use all the help we can get." This is exactly what this community is for. "One of many participants in the community is Norwegian university NTNU," says Dion Varossieau. "They are going to develop new tools that will help the Norwegian police to investigate criminal activity. We can learn a lot from them." "The better we are able to find each other and connect within the community, the better Hansken will get," adds Hans. "At first, we had to train a lot of people. Other organisations are also going to train people and we will be able to learn from their research and development."

Digital participation from home

The dozens of participants representing a total of 23 organisations from the United States, Belgium, Australia, Spain, Germany, Norway, the UK and the Netherlands took part in the community remotely. "This was the first time that we did it and we'd never have expected so many people to get involved and ask such targeted questions," says Dion. "If you ask me, it was a great success. The best thing about digital conferences is that participation is easy and accessible." Most of the participants joined in from home, as did Hans and Dion.

Variety of webinars and workshops

A large number of NFI staff contributed to the event via webinars. They explained the Hansken Product vision, Collaboration in the Community, Hansken forensic knowledge, Extraction plug-ins and Hansken training manuals. The National Police Chiefs Council (UK) spoke about the written National Digital Forensic Science Strategy and Professor Katrin Franke of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) illustrated the institute's vision of collaboration within the Hansken community.

Inspiring

The level of commitment shown by the participants was immense. Via Discord, a group chat platform originally designed for gamers, the participants could find each other with great ease and simplicity. "During the workshop Hansken.py, we received highly specific questions from software developers. The depth of the questions and the enthusiasm of the participants was truly inspiring," says Dion. The 'Hansken Discord community' environment will remain open to enable sharing of information and allow the participants to find each other.

Next Hansken Community Day

In the future, the NFI would like to organise more Hansken Community Days and the next editions will be held on 24 and 25 March. "It will remain online for now," explains Dion, "although as soon as it is possible, we want to organise the conferences both online and in person to give us time for social interaction. It would be wonderful if other partners would take turns to organise Hansken Community Days."