NIST Releases Results from a Black Box Study for Digital Forensic Examiners

NIST Black Box Study for Digital Forensic Examiners

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has published the results from a black box study for digital forensic examiners. The study, released in February 2022, describes the methodology used in the study and summarizes the results.

The study was conducted online and open to anyone in the public or private sectors working in the digital forensics field. Survey participants examined and reported on the simulated digital evidence from casework-like scenarios. NIST said study’s goal was to assess the performance of the digital forensic community as a whole.

Results from a Black-Box Study for Digital Forensic Examiners (NISTIR 8412) can be viewed at

From Results from a Black-Box Study for Digital Forensic Examiners, page 33:

Summary Key Takeaways

Despite the limitations of the study, two key takeaways about the state of the digital evidence discipline emerged:

  • Digital forensics examiners showed that they can answer difficult questions related to the analysis of mobile phones and personal computers. Questions ranged from basic, such as identifying who the user of the phone had contacted, to advanced questions that related to the use of the TOR browser.
  • The response to the study underscored the size, variety, and complexity of the field. The study received responses from examiners working in international, federal, state, local government, and private labs whose major work included law enforcement, defense, intelligence, and incident response/computer security. There were also responses from people outside of these areas.


Results Available from OSAC Registry Implementation Survey

OSAC Registry Implementation Survey: 2021 Report

The Organization of Scientific Area Committees for Forensic Science (OSAC) released the results from its first annual Registry Implementation Survey. The report, published in February 2022, provides a detailed look at the respondents and the implementation status of the 46 standards represented in the survey.

In the summer of 2021, OSAC released the survey targeted at forensic science service providers from across the country. It was designed to help OSAC better understand how the standards on the OSAC registry are being used, the challenges around standards implementation and what support is needed to improve it.

The OSAC Registry Implementation Survey: 2021 Report is available at

From page 10 of the OSAC Registry Implementation Survey: 2021 Report:

Priority for Implementing Standards
When asked what priority survey participants considered standards implementation for their organization, half of the respondents (50%) said it was a medium priority, or important. This was followed by 34% of respondents indicating that implementation was a high priority, or very important. Twenty-three respondents (14.8%) indicated that implementation was a low priority or not a priority at this time (Figure 4).

Figure 4. Priorities for Standards Implementation
Click on image to enlarge. Figure 4. Priorities for Standards Implementation