Computer Forensics is defined as the process of using specialized software to examine electronic data for the purpose of uncovering evidence of criminal or unauthorized activity. Computer forensics investigations have three main goals: 1. To identify the individuals involved in a computer crime; 2. To collect evidence that can be used in a court of law; and 3. To prevent future computer crimes
What Data to Analyze
Computer forensics investigation depends on the specific goals of the investigation. However, some common types of data that are analyzed in computer forensics investigations include:
- Web browsing history
- Email messages
- Chat logs
Validation and Hidden Data
Computer Forensics needs to validate data authenticity, and integrity and uncover hidden data. Investigators may also use tools to recover deleted files or analyze encrypted data.
Data-hiding techniques employed by criminals, including steganography and data destruction. Steganography is the practice of hiding data within other data, such as embedding a message in an image file. Data destruction is the intentional destruction of data in order to prevent it from being recovered. All these are also dealt with by computer forensics.
Remote Acquisition in Computer Forensics
In some cases, investigators may need to acquire data from a remote location, such as when the data is stored on a server that is located in another country. This process is known as remote acquisition, and it can be accomplished using various tools and techniques, such as:
- Logging into the server remotely
- Using specialized software to copy the data
- Physically transporting the storage device to the investigator’s location
Is Search Warrant Needed in Computer Forensics?
A search warrant is not always needed in computer forensics. In some cases, investigators may be able to collect evidence without a search warrant if they have the consent of the owner of the data or if the data is located in a public place. However, in other cases, such as when the data is stored on a private server or when the data is encrypted, a search warrant may be required.
Computer Forensics and Scope Creeps
Scope creep is a common problem in computer forensics investigations. This occurs when the scope of an investigation expands beyond its original goals. For example, an investigator may start out with a goal of simply identifying the individuals involved in a crime, but then find that there is evidence of other crimes as well. As a result, the investigator may need to obtain additional search warrants or take other steps to expand the scope of the investigation.