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A closer look at computer investigations

Individuals and companies using the services of a computer investigator to find the individuals and information they are searching for. Using tools such as digital forensics, we now have the ability to acquire photographs, documents and other pertinent data, that is produced, stored and archived in a digital format. This type of data is often used to gather information for criminal court cases, civil litigation or other legal issues.

The world of digital forensics involves the tools and equipment necessary for retrieving relevant data or even traces of that data when stored in a digital device including a computer, smart phone or other electronics. This includes a variety of recoverable items such as emails that may have been viewed online, but never saved. It might also involve the history of any website that has been visited, software that has been uninstalled and even deleted documents.

Recovering Data

During a computer investigation, the first job of an investigator is often to recover information (data) from a digital device that might have been deleted or saved as multiple versions. This might involve gathering the information of where certain data might have been transmitted to a remote location, or historical reference of how it was used. Typically, if the information exists anywhere in the storage device it can often be located and recovered to be used as evidence.

High-level computer investigating is a forensic science that is much different than the actions of a typical employee in the IT department, or those performed by a computer consultant. Using a variety of highly developed investigative tools and techniques, we now have the ability to locate bits and pieces of files and reconstruct the fragments. This also includes any portion of the item that has been previously deleted but still exists in some format in the storage device.

Retrieving Electronic Evidence

Additionally, we now have the tools and equipment necessary to recover a variety of electronic evidence left on numerous devices including:

  • Web servers
  • Databases
  • Hard drives
  • Internet websites
  • Email servers
  • Backup storage media
  • Digital cameras
  • Fax machines
  • Cellular phones and smart phones including BlackBerrys
  • Zip drives
  • Digital answering machines

Proper Handling

An experienced and qualified private investigator will utilize specific methods and modalities to preserve the integrity of electronic evidence during the recovery process. They will have an extensive mindset and investigative knowledge along with skilled training and use appropriate investigation practices to retrieve information from store devices.

The scientific process of computer forensics is used in a variety of ways to capture valuable information on servers, laptops, computers and other devices. Many companies, law firms and individuals use these services for reasons that include:

  • Insurance fraud
  • Corporate fraud
  • Divorce cases
  • Intellectual property theft
  • Sabotage of the company network
  • Financial fraud
  • Sexual harassment
  • Identity theft
  • Racial discrimination

The Process

It is important to use a consistent process to gather this type of digital information. It typically begins by assessing the current situation, to determine exactly what is involved in the case, including devices used, and the information that needs to be obtained.

This is often followed by the acquisition of evidence from the storage device, which might include laptops, smart phones and servers. Using a variety of computer forensic techniques and tools, we follow best practices to ensure admissibility through a proper legal chain of custody. After the evidence has been analyzed and reports generated, the information is provided to the individual, company, and law firm or law enforcement that was gathered.

If you would like to learn more about computer investigation services, please click here to read more about our services.