Everything You Wanted to Know About Digital Forensics

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Everything You Wanted to Know About Digital Forensics

Are you looking for a crash course in digital forensics? Then you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to give you a down and dirty rundown of all the things you need to know about it. Let’s take a look.

Why Digital Forensics is On the Rise

It might surprise you to learn just how pervasive our digital world truly is. In the United States alone:

  • 83% of households own a computer
  • 91% of consumers check their email at least once a day
  • 92% of executives use a mobile device to conduct business

Although there are some who are not a part of our digital world, virtually everyone is. Because of this, these sobering statistics about the cost of cybercrime should come as no surprise:

  • In 2014, cybercrime lead the loss of nearly $12.4 million, which was up 9% from the year before.
  • Globally, it’s estimated that cybercrime leads to losses of between $375 and $525 million annually.

Given the pervasiveness of computer and mobile device use, as well as the costs associated with cybercrime, it’s easy to see why digital forensics is on the rise.

Uses for Digital Forensics

Law enforcement has been the driving force behind developing the new tools and techniques necessary to keep up with ever-inventive cybercriminals. While law enforcement has the clearest need for these tools, they’re also used by individuals in the private and business sectors as well. Because of this, digital forensics has applications for investigating a wide number of things. For example, it can be used for:

  • Cases of intellectual property theft
  • Cases of industrial espionage
  • Settling employment disputes
  • Conducting fraud investigations
  • Investigating forgeries

In truth, anytime an investigation includes a digital device, there is a need for digital forensics. Attorneys & prosecutors also rely on digital forensics to aid in proving their divorce and child custody cases in court.

Legal Issues & Ethics

As with any other kind of investigation, digital forensics must be carried out ethically and in accordance with the law. Someone conducting such an investigation will be primarily concerned with establishing his or her authority to collect the data, and will also need to consider whether the data collected can be admissible in a court of law.

To ensure the ethicality and legality of a digital forensics investigation, it’s recommended that an investigator follow the guidelines of the Association of Chief Police Officers. These are set forth in their document “Good Practice Guide for Digital Evidence”, which you can read here.

Further, if you’re conducting a forensic investigation in the United States, you will want to be up to speed with all of the relevant laws. These laws include:

  • The 4th and 5th amendments, which protect against unreasonable search and seizure and self incrimination
  • The Wiretap Act (18 U.S.C. 2510-22)
  • The Pen Registers and Trap and Trace Devices Statute (18 U.S.C. 2701-1212)
  • The Stored Wired and Electronic Communication Act
  • Federal Rules of Evidence


The Four Stages of a Digital Forensics Investigation

Like any other investigation, digital forensics is conducted in stages. These are:

  • Seizure: The legal taking of the digital device.
  • Acquisition: Duplicating the information on the device.
  • Analysis: Reviewing the data and drawing conclusions.
  • Reporting: Showing the results as well as the methods employed.

By following these four steps, as well as the best practices and laws outlined above, you will be assured of conducting a successful digital forensic investigation.

The Secret Weapon

Cellebrite’s Touch Ultimate UFED is the secret weapon for conducting digital forensic investigations, and there are more than 150,000 of these devices in use around the world. This technologically advanced device is capable of extracting all of the data on a mobile device, and it provides incredible tools and software for analyzing that data, speeding up digital forensic investigations. You can learn more about this “secret weapon” here.