Computer forensics is analysis of data that is created and contained in a computer. The intention here is to find out a chain of events regarding what happened, how, where and also the people involved. This process helps in collection, identification and preservation of data that is electronically stored and this information can later be used as evidence in court.
Network organizations and security personnel practice computer forensics and possess the knowledge of laws to tackle ever increasing cyber crimes. Computer forensics interestingly acts as a strategic element in promoting higher organizational security. Computer experts have access to advanced tools and they use many complicated techniques that help them find evidence against crimes, attacks and intrusions. This collected evidence is then used in court against the culprits.
Computer forensics is complicated but it helps organizations in the integrity of their network infrastructure and survivability. In this day and age computer forensics is taken as the basic element of network security and if your network is having intrusions then computer forensics will provide the details of the intruder and get them prosecuted.
Following are a some of the common situations where the application of computer forensics come to play:
- In corporate sectors when an employee of any individual discloses or leaks information.
- When an employee frauds on intellectual property and sells it to a rival company.
- Damage analysis of an incident and further assessment.
- In detecting white collar crimes, as in non-violent crimes that are financially motivated and are committed by professionals of the government or private sectors. Such crimes include Ponzi schemes, advance fee and identity theft. White collar crimes can destroy life time savings or cost billions to a company. Computer forensics play a huge role in this area of crimes.
- Industrial espionage is another area where computer forensics is used to find out the culprits of stolen trade secrets and business details.
- Computer forensics help in fighting a number of cases related to online fraud.
- It also plays it role in finding the culprits of sexual harassment, negligence and deception.
- Collection of vital information that can be used to terminate a person’s employment.
- It is found that criminals often save vital information on their computer and computer forensics help in getting such information.
- Forgery, intellectual property theft, fraud compliance and employee disputer are some other areas of application.
- It also helps in civil cases and other general criminal cases.
Law enforcement often need computer forensics to help in their investigations as the computer is sometimes the scene of the crime. In cases of hacking and other cyber crimes, it is always the computer that is the scene of crime.
Computer experts who carry out the computer forensics have good knowledge and additional tools that help them track and trace information. The investigators possess good knowledge of latest techniques, software and methods of retrieving damaged files.
Generally two kinds of data is collected in computer forensics, namely persistent data and volatile data. The persistent data is the one stored on local drives and other forms of storage that don’t require constant power source but the volatile data are the ones on the random access memory and is lost with the loss of power. Computer experts in such cases know how to retrieve volatile data by performing a host of experimentation with the cache.
Additionally, law enforcement officers use the metadata of a file to find out more about a certain crime. They determine the date of creation of files, chain of modifications and time of last modification. Information gathered from computer forensics can be used as an evidence against a person and also can be used to defend a person from false allegations.