Digital Forensics: acquisition, and analysis of evidence from electronic-based media.
From ‘smartphones’ to ‘personal computers’, we live and work in a digital world where such electronic media components play an integral role in our day-to-day activities.
As the use of digital equipment continues to grow, crimes involving computers such as Fraud and their use as means of communication are becoming increasingly widespread. As computers become a standard part of our lives, the information held within IT hardware and software has become critical from an evidential perspective.
During the last five years there has been a rapid expansion in specialist investigations to counter the growth of computer misuse and in the development of specific tools and methods to collect and analyse ‘legally safe’ digital evidence. Consequently, computer, mobile telephone, Satellite and GPS system investigations have expanded rapidly.
As it grows, so does the requirement for those in the legal and commercial sectors to be equipped with the skills to understand what can be achieved as a consequence of a digital forensic analysis. Computer investigations cover both criminal and civil cases including human resources and employment disputes.
Regardless of the scenario, strict rules and legislation govern the investigation of computer-based evidence which must be carried out in a structured and auditable way. Social networking sites, telephone messaging, e-mails and Skype are just a few of the facilities used by society to communicate on both a personal and professional level. Organizations are actively utilising social media as, for example, social marketing, where the function is to create relationships with existing and potential customers.
So what is digital forensics?
It is the process of methodically examining computers, mobile telephones and assorted electronic media. In other words, digital forensics is the collection, preservation, analysis, and presentation of computer-related evidence.
The fascinating part of the science is that the digital evidence is often transparently created by the computer’s operating system without the knowledge of the computer operator. The information may actually be hidden from view. To find it, special digital forensic software tools and techniques are required. A thorough analysis by a skilled examiner can result in the reconstruction of the activities of a computer user. This evidence can be useful in criminal cases, civil disputes, and human resources/employment proceedings.
No matter how careful they are, when people attempt to steal electronic information, such as the business database of customers, they can leave behind traces of their activities. As a consequence computer and mobile telephone data is a reliable and essential form of evidence that should not be overlooked.