A Corrupt Video Can’t Be Played … Or Can It?

CSAM investigations​

Corrupt, or not corrupt, that is the question …

All too often in digital media investigations, investigators will run into corrupt video files, especially videos extracted by data carving tools. These unplayable videos would (9 times out of 10) be immediately discarded from the investigation; throwing away potentially vital evidence. Why? In general, corrupt videos cannot be played, and frames cannot be extracted from them. Attempting to open a corrupt video can cause a fatal error, and thus crash the video viewing software.

A Sexual Offences Section of a prominent police force uses S21 LASERi-X. While working on a case being investigated by this Section, a Sergeant found many illicit images and videos. As usual, she was left with a number of corrupt videos. At first, she tried to use the shortcuts built into S21 LASERi-X, to send the corrupt videos to a third-party external player. It too showed the videos as being corrupt, and it was unable to play the videos or even to display still frames. Often, it crashed immediately.

The Sergeant was not satisfied with the option of discarding these files. Having a hunch that the videos might include crucial evidence, potentially about some local victims, she decided to turn on S21 LASERi-X’s unique corrupt-video handling mechanism, S21 Corrupt Handler, so that she could review the corrupt videos.

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