What is Digital Forensics and How is it Used in Investigations ?

MailXaminer | June 12th, 2019 | Forensics

What is Digital Forensics?

Digital forensics comprises of the techniques which deal with the restoration and investigation of digital evidences. It is a branch of forensic science, which involves the process of identifying, collecting, preserving, analyzing and presenting the digital data or evidence. It aims to reconstruct the sequence of events, which had taken place at the crime scene. Digital data and media can be recovered from all the devices, like mobile phones, laptops, hard disk, pen drive, floppy disk, and many more. , which store digital data. Now, we will provide extensive knowledge about What is Digital Forensics and How is it Used.

Digital Forensics revolves around investigation of digital data collected from the multiple digital sources. During the investigation process, a step by step procedure is followed. The collected data is preserved and analyzed by cyber crime investigator. Further, it can then be used as a potential source of evidence in the court of law. As, cyber crime investigator is digital forensics expert so, they carry out the investigation process and perform analysis of digital data. Moreover, they ensure that the authenticity of evidence is maintained. In this blog, we will focus on “ what is Digital Forensics” and the different approaches to investigate the gathered digital evidence.

Now, let us learn How is it used in Investigations:

Different types of Investigations

Before knowing the steps of digital forensics, let’s go through the different investigation types as mentioned below.

There are two main types of investigations:-

1. Public Investigation: It includes investigations which are conducted for crime against people. Government agencies handle all the investigations related to the public sector. Moreover, Public investigations are generally referred as criminal investigations as they primarily deal with criminal cases.

2. Private Investigation: These include investigations carried out for crime related to business, offices and organizations. Any kind of violation of policies of private sector, will fall under this category of investigation. Private investigations are generally referred as corporate investigations.

How Forensics is Used in Investigation: A Step wise Procedure

The investigation process is a step by step procedure carried out
meticulously to ensure that no original evidence is destroyed in the process while maintaining the chain of custody. After knowing about “what is digital forensics” and the different types of investigation, let us discuss about the investigation procedure. Here goes the sequential steps for the same as follows:

1. Identification: It is the first step carried out during the investigation process. It involves the identification of all the potential digital sources which are capable to store digital information and media. Further, these can be used as a source of evidence. Identification is the foremost step in any kind of investigation. Primarily, it is mandatory to be aware of the devices which can be useful in the investigation procedure.

2. Collection: All the digital devices, which are potential sources of evidence are removed from the crime scene and properly collected.
Collection of all the digital devices, in its true form, is ensured to maintain authenticity. The data collection can be further divide into four main types:

1.1 Volatile Data Collection: It includes collection of all the running data like user-logged in details, date, time, and other RAM data. The system should remain turned ON during the investigation process.

1.2 Live System Imaging: It includes the imaging action performed on the running data. During the investigation process, the system should remain turned ON.

1.3 Forensic Imaging: Duplicate copy of the original device is created to perform imaging actions. Exact copy of the original device is created to perform manipulations. Hashing techniques are employed to ensure privacy. The system should remain OFF during the investigation process.

1.4 Seize Digital Devices Physically: When the above three methods fail, then this method comes to rescue. Here, the digital devices are seized and then all the possible digital evidences are collected. The system may remained turned ON or OFF depending on the suitable circumstances.

3. Preservation: Preservation is an important step as it is necessary to preserve the place where the crime occurred. It is also important to preserve all the Electronically Stored Information (ESI) which could be obtained from the crime scene.

4. Analysis: Analysis involves the in-depth examination of all the digital evidences. Proper imaging is performed to ensure that the original evidences do not lose their authenticity. The examination and study of the criminal scenario helps the investigator to come to a conclusion.

5. Reporting: This is the final step carried out during the investigation process. Reports are way of presenting all the facts and events linked with the crime in a systematic manner. These reports are then presented in the court of law as a source of evidence to solve the crime.

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Conclusion

If a systematic approach is used for carrying out an investigation process then, it confirms the authenticity of the source of evidence in criminal cases. Moreover, digital forensics deals with the retrieval of all the digital data, which can be used as a source of evidence. In this blog, we focused on the basic concept of, ‘what is digital forensics’, and ‘how is it used in the investigation process’. To conclude, a detailed investigation of digital devices helps the Cyber Crime Investigator to come to a conclusion in order to solve the Cyber Crime.