Computer Forensics – What is It and Why is It So Special?
Computer forensics is an exciting field of computer forensics dedicated to the analysis of digital data. It studies the hidden parts of computers, commonly referred to as “the dark side.” Dark side refers to any activity or process that goes beyond normal protocol or that ends up bringing down another system. This “side” can include hacking, malware, and viruses. Digital forensics can be used to analyze computer files, videos, photographs, voice and data transmissions, websites, email, instant messaging, chat rooms, and instant messenger logs.
The goal of using computer forensics for criminal investigation is to put a name on the attacker(s) and to bring the criminal behind the crime to justice. Computer forensics experts use various tools and techniques to extract information from computers, such as using a password decryption program; searching through files and folders; tracing their internet history; examining digital media; and extracting important evidence from memory chips and other removable devices. It can be done on a PC, MAC, laptop, smart phone, or Apple iPad. Experts often perform live online video surveillance using a video camera or digital video recorder (DVR). Another technique is extracting speech from an online chat room or forum.
Computer crimes have a wide range of different definition, ranging from malicious software such as Stuxnet, which sabotaged many different computer systems, to simple data theft. However, there are many different ways that computer forensics experts investigate crimes. Here are some of the most common:
Computer Forensics experts may conduct criminal investigations using a network investigation. In this kind of investigation, an expert gathers network related evidence such as email trail, attached files, IP logs, trace records, etc. from a computer system. In order to capture this evidence, it’s necessary to install a data capturing device, such as a digital video recorder (DVR).
There are also specific types of computer forensics that focus on investigative work. For example, corporate crime defense focuses on gathering evidence from corporate computers that are infected with viruses. Government investigative work involves the collection and evaluation of federal criminal evidence from computers that have been seized due to violations of the law. Computer crime analyst is the job of law enforcement in collecting, preserving, and analyzing criminal evidence.
Computer forensics professionals are needed by various law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, IRS, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. As a matter of fact, many law enforcement agencies now depend on computer forensic specialists to solve complex cases. In the past, most computer forensic examinations were conducted at the local crime lab. However, it has become increasingly common for crime scene technicians and analysts to work independently on cases, since the vast majority of crime scene technicians and investigators are not licensed law enforcement officers.
Experts in computer forensics can be used by any of the law enforcement agencies in carrying out their duties. The agency will first review the evidence gathered during an investigation and will then forward the case file to the forensic expert. They will examine the evidence using a variety of tools and techniques and come up with a report. The investigator may present the report to the prosecutor for a decision on the case. In some cases, a prosecuting attorney will conduct his or her own investigation and review the case files and make his or her own conclusions about the evidence, without consulting with the forensic experts.
Computer forensics professionals work closely with other experts in the field such as IT staff, hackers, and computer software engineers. The field of digital forensics can be quite different from traditional criminal investigation because it involves the use of many different kinds of technology, techniques, and methodologies. Computer forensics experts may sometimes work together with other investigators to develop a more comprehensive case. For example, they may examine digital media or hard drive data to locate deleted text or any other information that has been removed from a computer. In doing so, they can determine whether or not the person who deleted the information intended to prevent further disclosure.