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Paying for a Private Digital Forensics Lab

Private computer forensics labs offer a great alternative to a local RCFL, state lab or even an in-house lab. They provide cutting-edge expertise, fast turnaround times (days or weeks instead of months or years) and can often deliver service that is more customized to the specific needs of each case. The question, of course, is how much does a private lab cost and how do you pay for it?

What is the Cost?

No matter the details or complexity of your case, you want the same deliverable – a concise forensic analysis that can stand up in court. The general cost of a digital forensic analysis can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars depending on the complexity of the case and the number of devices involved. Generally, simple cases that involve a single mobile device can cost a few hundred dollars. More complex cases with multiple devices and device types that require an examiner to testify in court can cost several thousand dollars.

Package Options

If you’re looking for a private lab that is more than an occasional, one-off solution, you may opt for a package option. Some digital forensics labs offer casework packages that let you choose a fixed annual price for a pre-defined quantity of work.  Rather than buying hours, you’re buying case “units” based on common device types. For example, a simple mobile device acquisition may be 1 unit and a damaged mobile device that requires a chip-off or JTAG process may be 3 units.

This approach lets you select an annual budget amount that your department can afford and still have the flexibility to pursue cases that include a wide range of device types.

Justifying the Expense

Finding money for a private digital crime lab can be difficult. As with most expenses, the question is not what the actual cost is but how that cost compares with your next best alternative. Flashback Data serves as the outsourced digital forensics lab for law enforcement agencies across the country.  The two most common ways that our customers justify their partnership with us are:

  • It’s cheaper than maintaining an in-house lab. Lots of departments that choose to build an in-house lab underestimate the ongoing costs associated with keeping their examiners trained and their equipment and software up-to-date, not to mention the headache of actually managing a lab. A private digital forensics lab can offer cutting edge expertise, equipment and results at a more affordable cost than an in-house lab.
  • Save money on overtime. If you’re paying officers overtime to maintain surveillance during a critical investigation, waiting 6 months to analyze a seized mobile device costs your department real money. Many of our law enforcement customers rely on our rapid turnaround time to finish cases faster and save unnecessary overtime.

If you’re considering using a private digital forensics lab, contact Flashback Data today. We can be your own private forensics lab or can help with one-off cases as needed. We’re proud to be the first private digital forensics lab accredited under the same program as the FBI and state crime labs.