With all the technological advancements within the last decade, computers have changed the way we work and the way we live our lives, even for criminals. The internet is a public place, which means fraud and other serious crimes are committed on a day-to-day basis. A lot of information is stored on a computer, and that information has become a valuable commodity. To crack down on serious crime, law enforcement agencies must incorporate computer forensics into their investigation processes to aid them in securing convictions.
The main purpose of computer forensics
In general cases, criminals often store traces of information on their computer. The main purpose of computer forensics is to examine a computer system (usually a hard drive) to try to find out if it has been used to commit a crime. The data that are stored on the hard drive of the computer are analysed thoroughly by computer forensics investigators to find any substantial or supportive evidence of crime that has been committed. Computer forensic investigations are not as simple as it is portrayed in movies or TV shows, as sometimes it can take many days or months to look through data to find what an investigator is looking for.
Computer forensic investigators must also follow a set of procedures to be able to comply with the standards of evidence. If they do not follow the legal procedures set by the court or law enforcement agencies, the evidence can or will be considered inadmissible in court.
Tools used in computer forensics
When it comes to computer forensics, investigators can often trace emails, text messages, and computer related communications. They can examine portable storage devices like USB’s, hard drives or SSD’s that may contain the evidence they’re looking for. They can often find out when, who and what happened by searching through the relevant data that has been recovered.
Computer forensics investigators may use several different tools when trying to find the exact data they are looking for. This can range from file viewers to disk and capture software.
Below are some data capturing tools used by forensic investigators:
Computer forensics has its advantages and disadvantages
When it comes to computer forensics, there are some advantages and disadvantages. This field of work is still relatively new as computer technologies are advancing all the time, and most criminal matters are still usually dealt with using physical evidence.
The main advantage of computer forensics is the investigator’s ability to search for specific data and analyse it quickly and efficiently. They often can search for specific keywords (in multiple languages) when searching through a hard drive, which is beneficial as cybercrimes on the internet are typically borderless and can happen in any country.
The main disadvantage of computer forensics is the cost to retrieve the data. Being a computer forensics investigator requires skills and knowledge of how to do the job correctly. As a result, hiring computer forensic investigators can become expensive, depending on how long it will take to find the exact data someone is looking for.
Short and concise. Really interesting piece to read.