One of the six operating companies within Yorkshire-headquartered Bailie Group — Defence consultancy, CDS Defence and Security (CDS DS) — has launched its new digital forensics lab (DFU) at its Government-approved facility, in Cheltenham.

The state-of-the-art DFU has been two years in the making and is the firm’s newest cyber security capability.

Martin Nash, head of cyber security and information assurance (CS&IA) services at CDS DS, explained: “Digital forensics is a branch of forensic science that focuses on identifying, acquiring, processing, analysing, and reporting on data stored electronically.

“In the event of a cyber incident, organisations need their devices to paint the picture of what really took place. And this is what our new facility does.”

From criminal investigations in support of law enforcement to security incident response support across the commercial sector, CDS DS offers a niche service that helps organisations to determine what happened, when it happened, and how it happened.

With 36 staff making up the CDS DS team, the business aims to create a further nine jobs within its DFU over the next 12 months.

Explaining the rationale behind the development, Martin added: “Explaining the rationale behind the development, Martin added: “Law enforcement have publicly declared significant backlogs in the digital forensic evidential examination of electronic devices, and we’re here to support them in tackling this effectively.”

Last year, it was reported there were delays of up to 18 months in examining 25,000 phones and computers, and this was slowing down the evidence process — seeing high-risk individuals released without bail restrictions into the community.

Martin continued: “Our DFU enables us to maintain the integrity in the chain of evidence for devices, while quickly and efficiently analysing and reporting our findings with accurate results.”

The DFU is fully operational and working both in line with and towards ISO 17025 accreditation, as required by the police sectors with certification expected imminently.

CDS DS’s cyber security and information assurance services business unit was established in January 2020, and since then, the company has tripled the number of staff — to 36 and growing — and the business unit’s revenue to £3.25m in 2022. This is expected to reach £4.2m by the end of 2023.

The entire company — comprising four business units in total — continues to increase its revenue year on year, growing to just over £15m in 2022, with ambitious plans for further growth.