Computer forensics is a new and growing specialty that serves both the public and private sectors. IT forensics specialists are not only competent in software related matters, but in those relating to computer hardware issues as well. Computer forensics comes into play in both ethical and criminal issues, including intellectual property law, theft, and fraud. There was a time when those people committing computer crimes weren’t at risk from the law – now they are.
These forensics follows traditional principles for scientific investigation. Work in computer forensics is systematic, well recorded and documented, and acceptable within a court of law. The methodology of computer forensics follows several steps. The first is to identify sources of digital evidence. The second is to preserve that evidence from loss, change or corruption. The third step in the process is to analyze the evidence, and the fourth is to present the evidence within the context it is required.
A good forensic specialist can manage the computer system and the data it contains while protecting sensitive evidence. Computer forensics explores both the individual computer, and any relevant networks or server connections. Forensics allows for the discovery of obvious and hidden data, as well as allowing access to password protected, encrypted and otherwise secured data on a computer system. Forensics may also allow for the recovery of deleted files.
As a matter of fact a lot of modern IT forensics work involves recovering files that have been deliberately deleted from computers and cellphones. The drugs trade relies on cellphones to communicate but now they’re realizing that a good forensics team can retrieve information on every text message and phone call they’ve ever made.
You can think of these specialist forensic teams as like the ultimate data recovery specialists. No matter what lengths the guilty have gone to trying to hide the evidence of their crimes these guys can find it and use it against them in court. An example is the guy who set his laptop on fire but realized it was going to take forever to burn. So he threw the laptop into a river and figure that was enough.
It wasn’t. Police were able to recover the laptop and almost all the data from his hard drive. He was prosecuted for the crime in question and is now serving his sentence. The only safe way to protect your data against a computer forensics team is to set the computer on fire, smash it to bits with a sledgehammer, put it in a container and have it shot into the heart of our sun on a rocket. And even then you can’t be sure….
Industrial applications, the insurance industry, legal professionals, the courts and more rely on computer forensics for many functions, ranging from preventing the spread of illegal materials to avoiding corporate fraud. Computer forensics is a growing field, and one that will continue to provide evidence and insight to prevent growing criminal computer related activity.