What Is Computer Forensics?
With the rapid improvements in technology that have been seen over the past two decades, it’s only natural to assume that there would be some sort of role for people with computer skills within in the field of forensics.
And whoever came up with the title for this newly emerging field was obviously pretty creative because they called it…computer forensics.
So What Is Computer Forensics?
In today’s society virtually every home and office has at least one computer, and often times multiple computers.
And with the growth in such things as smart phones and portable computing devices we are communicating more and more with these devices, and storing ever increasing amounts of information on them.
And as such they provide a great resource for collecting evidence that can be used to solve crimes and convict and sentence criminals.
And so the most common situation in which computer forensics would be required is in dealing with various criminal matters.
A computer forensic specialist will be given access to the digital devices of the various people who’ve been involved in a crime, either directly as the perpetrator or victim of that crime, or indirectly where a device has been used without the owners knowledge.
The goal here is uncovering any evidence and information that can be helped to solve a crime, or build a case against someone.
Obviously computer crime is the most common situation where digital evidence will be required, but there are also many situations in other kinds of criminal and civil cases where communications that are stored on computers and in email and social media accounts can be used in legal proceedings.
Computer Forensic Procedures
They need to make sure they’re careful to preserve any digital data that is stored on the computers and other devices.
A simple mistake can result in the deletion or corruption of a data file that could have potentially been crucial.
And when you’re not sure exactly what you’re looking for, this is a mistake that can be easily made if you’re not careful.
The first job will be to try and identify anything that is potentially of use in relation to the crime at hand.
In this stage you’re not making any assessment with regards to how it can be useful, you’re just searching for anything that can be examioned at a later date for its usefulness.
Once any potentially relevant data has been identified, the next step is to extract that data, preserving it’s integrity and making sure that it isn’t corrupted in any way.
A skilled computer forensics expert will be able to extract much more information from a computer than your average user could.
This can be done through the recovery of deleted or fragmented files, along with various other techniques.
Once all the relevant data has been identified and extracted the next step is to work through the data and make sense of it and how it relates to the investigation being carried out.
In many ways this is the tough part, even though it’s not as technical as some of the other processes used.
If data is incorrectly interpreted it is virtually useless, or even worse it can actually hurt your investigation.
Throughout this entire process it’s important to note that there are strict protocols and guidelines required for anything that is going to presented as evidence in a legal case.
Digital evidence is no exception, so part of being a good computer forensics expert is staying on top of this throughout the entire investigation.
Computer Forensics Certifications?
If you want to become a computer forensic specialist there are various certifications available that can put you on the right track and give you the training you need.
These certifications will give you both the technical and procedural skills you need in this field.
Some of the kinds of subjects that are included in these certifications are:
- Legal issues surrounding the discipline of computer forensics and making sure that evidence meets the guidelines of the court system.
- Tools that are used by computer forensic specialists
- Techniques for extracting data and preserving the integrity of that data
- Training on how to effectively analyze data
Computer Forensics Jobs Summary
Because of the explosion in the use of computers and other digital devices, there is always going to be a corresponding need for skilled people who can effectively analyze those devices where they’ve been used in crimes.
A career in computer forensics can be extremely interesting, especially if you already have a strong interest in computers and computer systems.