Private Investigators Need Computer Investigators In The 2010s

Technical development, smart gadgets, and the Internet have influenced all aspects of modern lifestyle across the globe. While most people use these for improving their lives, some unscrupulous individuals use this technical advancement for criminal activities. An increasing number of cyber related crimes, such as identify thefts, credit card frauds, and other such activities are becoming more and more common. To counteract such fraudulent and criminal activities, specially trained experts use computer forensics to find valuable information about these crimes and help investigators gather evidence that can be used against the criminals in the courtrooms.

Understanding computer forensics

Computer forensics adopts special software and hardware to collect, analyze, and report digital information in legally admissible ways. These can also be useful in detecting and preventing crimes or to resolve disputes in cases where the information is digitally stored. This field of forensics also has several stages like other forensics fields and face similar kinds of issues. The law enforcement agencies are the commonest users of computer forensics and have helped in the development of this field. Computers may be a part of crime scene, such as hacking, denial of service attacks, or hold evidence like emails, documents, Internet history, or other files relevant to crimes like kidnapping, murder, drug trafficking, or fraud. Not only the content of the files and emails are relevant to the investigators but important information can also be availed from the meta-data related to these files.

Cases where computer forensics is beneficially used

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Several commercial organizations and private investigators have successfully used this new field of scientific discovery to resolve complex cases. These include intellectual property theft, regulatory compliance, employment disputes, inappropriate email and Internet use in the offices, fraud investigations, bankruptcy investigations, forgeries, and matrimonial issues. To ensure the evidence can be legally admitted, it must be non-prejudicial, which primarily means that all the stages of this process should be in the forefront of the forensic examiner’s mind. There are several guidelines regulating collection and admissibility of information procured through computer forensics.

Some important principles

No action adopted by the forensics examiners should modify the information on the computer or stored media, which may later be used in the courtrooms. In cases where the original information stored on the computers or storage media needs to be accessed, only competent and qualified persons must do so. Moreover, they should also be able to give evidence explaining the implications and relevance of their actions. An audit trail or records of all the processes applied during the investigation should be created and preserved. An independent third party must be able to examine these processes to achieve the same results. The person who is in-charge of the investigation must have overall responsibility to ensure all the laws and guiding principles are adhered to properly. Following all these principles while extracting or retrieving data from computer systems will ensure the evidence collected during the entire procedure can be admitted in the courts, which will help deliver the right verdict to the charged criminals.

Prove Your Innocence With A Digital Criminal Defense

If you are accused with a crime, one of the first things recommended is to have your criminal defense attorney hire a reputed and reliable private investigator to use his or her expert services. The reasons that your lawyer will want one of these private investigators on the team are clear and straight forward. One is that he or she wants to ensure you receive the best criminal defense and an excellent way to achieve this objective is to gather as many details and facts as possible that are relevant and related to your case.

Role of investigators

You may be wondering what role a private investigator will exactly play in your criminal defense. He or she is able to collect information from some unexpected and un-thought sources, such as computer files, digital trails, and other paper trails. With a thorough and deep investigation encrypted files, deleted documents, or modified passwords can all be retrieved to help develop your digital criminal defense strategy. In addition, he or she will look at all the people who are trying to build a criminal case against you. Any inconsistencies in the clues and weaknesses in the opposition case are brought to the notice of the defense lawyer. Public as well as private records are scrutinized and traced for individuals as well as for businesses. Private investigators are able to solve mysteries and retrieve hidden information through any kind of digital sources. They will also interview possible witnesses and police officers to find all relevant information. Reputed and experienced investigators are adept at finding witnesses that enable lawyers successfully develop defense strategies.

Why digital defense?

Computers, smart phones, and other advanced digital media have entered daily lives of almost every person. Almost each individual uses emails, instant messaging, texts, and other smart functionalities to execute their daily tasks more efficiently in a timely manner. The increased use of all these digital devices has also resulted in an increasing number of digital crimes, such as frauds and identity thefts. Innocent people are often cheated by a few unscrupulous criminals who use the information from others for their personal benefits. Because the various digital media used by the criminals are related to others, innocent people are incriminated with criminal offenses. In such instances, hiring an experienced private investigator that has the experience and training of digital forensics will be beneficial.

Such forensics examiners minutely and deeply investigate the various digital media associated with the crimes to bring relevant facts to the forefront. They use special tools and software programs to conduct the discovery, which can provide important facts that can prove your innocence. Because these experts adhere to all the processes, audit trails, and other guidelines laid down by the regulatory authorities, the information discovered through digital forensics can be admitted in the courtroom as evidence to prove that you are not guilty. Having your defense lawyer search and team up with a reputed and well-known digital forensic expert early in the case will increase the chances of your being proven innocent.

Data Collection Is The First Step In Proving Cyber Guilt

Most people who use computers think that the information has indefinitely disappeared once they delete the files. However, if the need to retrieve the files arises during an investigation procedure, computer forensics experts have the knowledge of achieving this goal. The average users are unable to see the potential of the information that can be found within the files, which is why they think that by simply pressing the Delete key, they can erase all the data. If these have not been repeatedly overwritten by regular and sustained usage of a computer, these can be recovered from the non-live areas that are found on the hard drives. These locations are generally referred to as unallocated clusters and are capable of holding several gigabytes of deleted information.

Allowing experts to do the analysis

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Computer analysis should only be done by trained and qualified experts. This is because it requires in-depth knowledge about software and hardware while being trained in using special tools and equipment to retrieve the data. They have the skills and knowledge to comprehend the science behind retrieving these files that can be importance evidence during courtroom trial proceedings. These experts use their training and knowledge to recover information that is unknown to most of the users.

Forensic readiness

Forensic readiness is an important stage during the investigation process and is often overlooked. In commercial computer forensics this can be useful in educating the clients on how to be prepared about the system. As an example the effectiveness of the examination can be stronger if the internal auditing and logging systems are switched on. For the examiners there are several areas where being prepared is beneficial and training, testing, and verification of the equipment and software programs are recommended.

Collection of data

One of the most important first steps in the entire procedure is data collection. When the acquisition needs to be conducted on the crime scene instead of a computer forensics lab then it involves securing, identifying, and documenting the site. Several meetings and interviews with the personnel who may have the relevant information are conducted. Some of these include the users of the computer systems, managers, and the people providing the computer services. The entire procedure of bagging and tagging the audit trail commences at this stage and all materials are sealed in unique tamper resistance bags. An important factor that requires sufficient consideration is the secure and safe transmission of these materials to the examination office.

Reviewing the information and data retrieved during the examination process helps save money and improve the quality of the results. The reviews make the procedures more efficient and time effective bringing in maximum benefits. Review can be quick and simple and can commence right from the start of the examination procedure. Things like what went wrong and how to avoid these in the future, what went right and how to effectively incorporate these during future examinations can be beneficial and all the lessons learnt can be applied later for better and improved outcomes.

How Do Experts Do Forensic Analysis?

Computer forensics primarily includes following the digital trail and the entire procedure requires adhering to certain methodologies while keeping in mind the limitations. The basic idea behind using these techniques is investigating the computer hardware and software and other related components to determine whether it has been used and at what level the criminal activity occurred and to analyze if there was any kind of unauthorized usage of the computer. Most people use the words crime and unauthorized activity interchangeably as they do not know about the difference. A crime implies the violation of federal or other laws while an unauthorized use may not entail violating any legal regulations. These may be restricted by the organizations as a policy to maintain certain decorum within the work place environment. Forensics experts follow different steps to arrive at an accurate analysis that can be beneficial in proving the guilt or innocence of the accused.

Preservation

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The first step adopted during the computer forensic analysis is preservation of the information. All the evidence must be collected as per the proper methods and accepted techniques to ensure it can be used during the investigation process and admitted in the court room. The entire procedure of preservation is very crucial and the professionals must be extremely careful about it. Even a minor error or carelessness can eliminate the evidence or completely destroy the same. Most commonly the evidence is based digital finger prints and trails.

Acquisition, analysis, and discovery

After preservation of the data, the next step is the acquisition, which primarily involves how to gain the evidence from the digital crime scene. This is based on advanced technological processes and requires specialized tools and should be conducted only by trained and qualified professionals. Post-acquisition, the evidence is analyzed and the non-relative and relative information is isolated. All this is further broken down into proper evidence that relates to the crime being investigated. The documents prepared are then presented in appropriate ways to ensure all the information can be used as accurate evidence. This stage is very important from the litigation angle as it will be admitted as proof of the criminal activity.

The presentation of the information in the right way is extremely important and there are some legal regulations that regulate the admissibility of the evidence. All the information and evidence gained during the above-mentioned procedure needs to be handled rightly in the appropriate legal ways within the acceptable standards. All this requires the computer forensics experts to be trained in the correct analytical techniques while having an in-depth knowledge about computer software programs and hardware.

When the digital evidence is used in the courts, the agencies have certain standards for collecting and presenting the information. All the collection and presentation must be via the right chain of custody and the investigators should be aware of these standards given by the agency where the information will be used as evidence. Failure to adhere to any of the above can render the documentation and presentation useless and you will fail to achieve the desired goals.