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
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.