Often referred to as computer forensic science, computer forensics is a specific branch of digital forensic science that covers that area of evidence that analysts may find on computers of digital types of storage media. The primary goal of computer forensics is to examine digital media in a forensically sound manner. This examination is conducted to identify, recover, preserve, and analyze the information obtained to present the gathered facts and opinions.
Most individuals have already heard of computer forensics, usually when connected to or associated with a computer-based crime. These days, computer forensics is playing a significant role in civil litigation and legal proceedings. When looking at the various techniques and principles involved in computer forensics, they are very similar to those used in data recovery. However, with computer forensics, multiple guidelines and additional practices are designed to provide a trail for legal audit.
When choosing to use any evidence obtained through computer forensics investigation, analysts must put the same practices and guidelines used in other forms of digital evidence into place. Computer forensics investigation is considered highly reliable and admissible in both the US and European court systems. It has been known to be used in various cases of a high-profile nature.
Continually In Demand
With the ever-growing use of personal electronic devices, the demand for analysts in computer forensics has grown exponentially. When information is required to be extracted from a personal electronic device, such as a computer, laptop, or even a phone, the individual tasked with the extraction will need to be trained in the technology required to get the job done efficiently.
To this end, since 1984, federal and local government and law enforcement agencies developed divisions within their pervay that would be staffed with individuals trained to assess and extract possible evidence from electronic devices.
Within the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigations), a division namedCART (Computer Analysis and Response Team) was created. CART consisted of a group of specialists in the field of computer forensics whose sole purpose was the take on the increase in evidence of a digital nature. Since CART, other law enforcement agencies have also developed similar teams of computer forensic analysts.
Since 1984, the advancements made in computer forensics have made a significant impact on many criminal investigations and have presented testimony in cases that were considered compelling. As the analysts within the field grow in their specialization, undeniably, computer forensics will continue to make a significant impact on the processes of future criminal investigations.
Sectors Of Computer Forensics
Government and law enforcement are not the only sectors of computer forensics but are assuredly the most widely known. Other sectors exist, each with its own specializations:
- Public Sector Services – Those branches of the government that are deemed the public sector also use analysts trained in computer forensics, such as the NHS (National Homeland Security.) In this case, analysts search and identify those individuals that may be misusing the various IT systems within the organization, such as when downloading porn or engaging on social media while on the clock. With the use of computer forensics, these actions can be proven or disproven without a doubt.
- Matrimonial Services
Computer forensics can play a significant role in divorces and any income that may be involved. Investigations include tracking down the income trail of a husband who goes from high wealth to poverty just before the divorce proceedings in an attempt to dodge any loss of wealth. With the investigation by analysts of the husband or wife's computer or cellphone, it can be determined if there is more to the story than others are being led to believe.
- Data Theft
Whether the individual is a disgruntled former employee or simply someone looking to access information to sell to the highest bidder, data theft within large corporations continues to become a mounting problem. With the help of computer forensic analysts, information can be extracted that shows a trail from point a to point b that will eventually prove that the individual suspected has been up to no good.
Many companies, whether large, small, or in between, will call upon a computer forensic specialist to extract data or documents specifically for legal purposes or required regulatory compliances for the company. The extraction will often need to be done in the shortest amount of time possible, and if not done so could result in sanctions and fines on the company. These sanctions and penalties could have a significantly detrimental effect on the lively hood of the company.
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