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The World of Digital Forensics
What do you think about when you hear the word ‘Forensics’? We bet it’s a bunch of people wearing white lab coats examining the dead. Forensic science isn’t new in the field of criminology. In fact, it was in 1902 when the first department of forensic science was established at a Swiss University. In today’s age, forensic science is an essential discipline in the field of criminology.
It’s kind of funny how disciplines that are related to science somehow find their way in the world of computers. Forensic science is no different. During the 1990s when computers started getting popular certain law enforcement officers who were also computer hobbyists started examining computers for evidence related to a crime committed. This was the first stepping stone towards how relevant digital forensics was about to become.
What exactly is Digital Forensics?
Nearly everyone has a digital device these days. Regardless of your profession or age, you most probably own a digital device such as a cell phone or a laptop. So, what’s one thing digital devices are most known for? It’s how digital devices have made communication so easy and instant. Information storage is another aspect that can play a vital role in any sort of investigation.
Digital forensics can hence be defined as a branch of forensic science that focuses on data recovery, evidence or material recovery found in digital devices. These digital devices are typically obtained from a crime scene. The crime nature isn’t the point of discussion in digital forensics as its main purpose is to examine devices that might carry information relevant to a crime case.
The field of Digital Forensics is also referred to as cyber forensics. An important point that you should keep in mind is that digital forensics is not related to cybercrime at all. The two fields are vastly different and their application has their own domains.
Digital Forensics Specialists:
Digital forensics investigators or specialists are persons that specialize in obtaining information through digital devices at a crime scene. They aren’t just trained experts in collecting information from these devices. Rather, the evidence they collect from a field can be presented in a court of law. This is an important aspect of what a digital forensics investigator does. If a victim believes that there can be information relevant to a case in a device, then that device must be preserved and investigated by a licensed investigator. The evidence will be considered invalid or corrupted if it’s investigated by someone who doesn’t have a valid license.
The following roles are undertaken by a digital forensic investigator:
1. Preservation and keeping everything in-tact once a digital device is recovered
2. Analyzing the digital device for evidence that can be presented in a court of law
3. Reporting the information obtained
Any piece of information or material obtained that holds value in an investigation is considered to be evidence. Usually, digital forensic evidence includes the following elements:
Electronically stored Content:
This includes content stored in word, excel, pdf or other formats. Also images, videos, files and other forms of content that can be stored electronically on a computer are included in this category. Such kind of content is stored in hard drives, optical drives, CDs & DVDs.
Popular Tools used in Digital Forensics:
There are plenty of tools that can be used in digital forensics and their efficacy is mainly related to recovering deleted files or providing an analysis data alteration.
ProDiscover Basic is a free tool that has a graphical user interface. Its efficacy is mainly relevant to data recovery and finding whether anything has been altered. It uses a combination of diagnostic and evidence collection tools to make the best out of devices which might have been even damaged. ProDiscover allows an investigator to identify digital footprints of a user. This can further lead towards clues that might be essential in breaking a case.
Autopsy is another open source software that is used by forensic investigators. It has the ability to present data in graphical viewing interface which is beneficial for the investigators for analysis. Autopsy includes features such as Web Artifacts which allow an investigator to extract digital footprints, extraction of web search history and cookies from browsers. Furthermore, option of keyword analysis is also present which determines the kind of keywords being used by a certain person.
EnCase Endpoint Investigator:
EnCase Endpoint Investigator comes with accelerated investigation parameters. With features such as off the network collection and an enhanced mobile acquisition it’s a great software for collecting digital forensic evidence.
More than 95% of Americans have a digital device who use it regularly to exchange information and communicate. The usage of these devices does come into play in crimes that are being committed all over the US. This is why digital forensics matters, as it offers a way to solve crime.
tagged: Digital Forensics