Computer forensics field is growing at a fast pace as legal entities and law realized that computer forensics make a world of difference in an investigation. And increasing cyber crime rates also calls for computer forensics as criminals are tackled by computer forensics experts who track down such crimes. It helps in protecting civilian information, public safety, organizational security and national security.
Computer forensics come handy in retrieving information from a suspect’s computer or network, it also allows experts to track down suspicious online activity such as drug dealing, trafficking, etc. Following are the five primary steps that every forensic agent works on.
Development of Policy and Procedure
Be it cyber security or criminal conspiracy, digital evidence are always highly sensitive and delicate. Cyber security professionals know this fact and hence value this information with maximum safety. This is a reason for establishing strict guidelines along with certain procedures that are followed in any computer forensic investigation. These procedures carry guidelines on how to recover a potential evidence, where to store the retrieved data and how the documentation of these activities will maintain the authenticity of the data.
Designated IT departments possess seasoned experts who give a hand to the law enforcement agencies in such investigations. Prior to a computer forensic investigation, the experts take certain steps such a determining investigative actions, reading case briefs, going through authorizations and warrants and obtaining necessary permissions to further pursue the work.
The key component of an investigative process is the evaluation. It provides a clear understanding of the details of the case and thus classifies the crime. The investigators need to thoroughly check the hard drives, emails, social platforms and several other digital archives when an agency accuses a certain individual of identity theft. It is imperial that an investigator determines the integrity and source of these data before declaring it as evidence.
Examination of Evidence
For effective investigation of potential evidence, certain procedures are followed in retrieving, copying and storing the evidence in respective databases. The investigators use designated storages to examine the data using a host of methods and approaches to analyze the given information. They use analysis software to look for specific data in massive storages. The procedures also help them in retrieving data that has been recently deleted and also in finding hidden files and in decrypting encrypted data.
Computer forensics investigators also analyze the file names to determine basic details like date, time and place of the data creation and modification or when was the data last uploaded or downloaded.The files located online point a specific server from which the computer that was used to upload the files can be located. Thus, providing the investigators some clues on where the system is located. Once located then the investigators match the online file names to the ones present in the directory of the suspect’s computer to verify the digital evidence.
Documenting the evidence and reporting
The investigators need to document all the procedures used along with the evidence and also need to include the information regarding the hardware and software maintaining an accurate record of everything..This information helps in demonstrating that the integrity of the user data is preserved during the investigation. As the purpose of this whole process is to collect evidence to present in court and if an investigator doesn’t accurate document the evidence then the evidence might be considered invalid. The actions relating to a particular case is then considered in a digital format following which it is saved in designated archives to maintain the authenticity of the generated report.