Call him the witch hunter in the field of computer science. He will dig out all the demons concealed deep in a computer hard disk. Vinod Bhattathiripad, a native of Kozhikode, has taken the route less travelled by any other computer scientist in the world. He has emerged as one of the best researchers and expert in the field of software piracy infringement cases in the world.
He climbed the peak in his field when he spotted five mistakes in the Abstraction-Filtration-Comparison (AFL) method used to prove software piracy infringement cases in the US court. Vinod presented papers in international seminars indicating the five errors in the AFL and the solution for it. This new method is called the Planning-Operationalisation-Separation-Analysis-Reporting (POSAR) test.
Incidentally, he has received a doctorate from Bharatiyar University for his study in the field of Judiciary-friendly Software Piracy Forensics with POSAR.
Vinod has been invited to many international seminars in the cyber forensics field. He was appointed as the Chairman of Workshop on Cyber Forensics in Software Engineering held as part of the IEEE World Conference on Computer Science at Turkey last month.
“I am the first Asian who presented a research paper internationally in the field of software piracy forensics. I have already published nine research papers, out of which eight were published abroad,” says Vinod.
The state judiciary, police and the Income Tax department are depending on Vinod for technical assistance. He first appeared as a technical expert in a software copyright infringement case in Kozhikode Sub Divisional Court in 2002. The complainant alleged that three previous employees in his software firm pirated the software and sold it in the open market. The court sought the help of Vinod. His report proved that the three persons pirated the software of their earlier company.
“The importance of cyber forensics is increasing in the field of crime investigation. In some cases cyber forensics evidence is as useful as evidence provided by an eye-witness. The full potential is yet to be exploited. The efforts of Vinod has helped to prove many cyber-related crimes in the court and his research journals are also helpful,” says former Chief Justice of Kerala High Court Justice R Basanth.
Vinod has been asked to write a book in software piracy forensics by the well-known publisher IGI. He has started work and it will be published by next year.
“Software piracy is a growing problem with international dimensions. Unfortunately it is not always easy to determine instances of piracy and it is even more difficult proving so in a court of law. What is so appealing and attractive of Vinod’s research is that he has developed sophisticated techniques that would aid a human expert to gather concrete empirical evidence. It will help the court to pronounce the verdict after studying the detailed report of the expert,” says Nasir Memon, Professor at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University and an expert in the field of image forensics.
The police department has mostly benefited from his skill. He could successfully recover crucial evidence of forgery of vehicle registration papers of trucks involved in the Malabar Cements spirit scandal from a hard disk that was reformatted three times after the forgery. It is one of the most controversial cases in Kerala in which some key business tycoons and notorious spirit smugglers were in the accused list. The scientific evidence given by Vinod about the Registration Certificate forgery helped the police to file a FIR with non-bailable offenses.
“In the near future the verdict of most of the cases will depend on cyber forensics evidence. Cyber Forensics is the one area in which the country must have more researches to curb the crime rate. Vinod is the only expert all over India. We need people like him,” says C M Pradeep Dumar, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Kochi.