Crimes committed using the computer networks are increasing at an alarming rate. Due to the speed and anonymity of the Internet, these criminal activities can cause harm to individuals and businesses. Cyber criminals use computers as tools to commit identity theft, hacking, fraud, phishing and other crimes. They can access business trade secrets to exploit their victims. Through forensic investigations, experts can recover proofs of these Internet crimes and verify the perpetrator’s defense.
Forensic investigators can provide a special skillset to resolve cases of intrusion, data breaches, and other cybercrimes. By examining computer systems, they can retrieve encrypted or deleted data that will enable them to pin offenders. Companies require the services of these professionals to resolve cases of cybercrime and enhance the security of their Internet network. Most investigators combine forensic skills with traditional techniques to obtain information during investigations.
Process of Forensic Investigation
Forensic experts can recover data from technical tools without damaging its integrity. The valuable information gathered during cyber crime investigations can serve as evidence. The systemic approach to this investigative process can involve these steps:
Acquisition of Data: In the event of any crime, computers and other digital devices will be scrutinized for implicating information. Ordinarily, experts use hard drives for forensic examinations. Criminals do delete files that will implicate them to outsmart the law. However, this action only hides the files from them. Such files still exist on the system’s hard drive and can be recovered. The random access memory, RAM, can lose data stored on it but investigators can retrieve this information from the hard disk. However, forensic investigators should recover information as soon as possible from computers to avoid losing them permanently. Over time, the data contained on the hard drive may be overwritten as it receives newer files from the RAM. Due to advanced technology, experts can duplicate data on computer memory using an innovative tool without turning on the system. Some criminals can encrypt incriminating data. However, most of these cautious offenders do fail to encrypt all their files. This oversight allows investigators to examine the unencrypted data for evidence. Besides, forensic experts can analyze protected files if the criminals have reused passwords.
Assessment: Investigators can use different techniques to examine the acquired information. Data collection is performed before shutting down the computers (live-analysis) or after they have been turned off (dead analysis). The “live” technique is useful in recovering fingerprints on computers. Forensic experts can also carry out live analysis to obtain evidence instantly using unique analytical tools.
Analysis: Detectives and lawyers can use data recovered from computers to prove cases. A forensic investigator can identify security lapses in any network that suffered a breach of data or intrusions. This discovery will be useful in the identification of the criminals using the gathered information. Interpretation of digital evidence is crucial to resolving cyber crimes.
Documentation: A written report from investigators is useful as evidence. An attorney can use such testimony during court proceedings. Besides providing proof for prosecuting a crime, a forensic investigator can testify in the court.
Besides investigating cybercrimes, computer forensic investigators can also test network security systems for companies. The professionals can enhance the performance level of computer system.
Christopher M. Cavallo
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