The What, Why, and How of Digital Forensics

Electronic forensics is a department of forensic science targeted on recovery and investigation of artifacts discovered on electronic products. Any products that keep facts (e.g. desktops, laptops, smartphones, thumb drives, memory cards or exterior tricky drives) are in just the ambit of electronic forensics. Specified the proliferation of electronic products, there has been a ramp-up in use of electronic forensics in lawful conditions and investigations.

How is Electronic Forensics Conducted?

Scientific Doing the job Group on Electronic Evidence (SWGDE) is an market consortium that defines the ideal tactics and methodology for forensic proof assortment, analysis, and reporting. Also,  the Countrywide Institute of Justice (NIJ) has a sub-exercise devoted to Electronic Forensics Specifications and Functionality Developing and the American Bar Association has also revealed specific guidance on Personal computer Forensics.

Evidence Handling

SWGDE and NIJ have produced ideal tactics for the acquisition and handling of proof for forensic analysis. Evidence assortment really should normally be executed to make sure that it will face up to lawful proceedings. Vital criteria for handling these proof are outlined underneath:

  • The correct protocol really should be followed for acquisition of the proof irrespective of no matter whether it bodily or electronic. Light handling really should be exercised for those people conditions in which the machine may well be broken (e.g. dropped or moist).
  • Special handling may well be required for some conditions. For e.g. when the machine is actively destroying facts through disk formatting, it may well will need to be shut down straight away to preserve the proof. On the other hand, in some conditions, it would not be proper to shut down the machine so that the electronic forensics pro can study the device’s short-term memory.
  • All artifacts, bodily and/or electronic really should be collected, retained and transferred employing a preserved chain of custody.
  • All elements really should be day and time stamped, determining who collected the proof and the spot it is staying transported to after first assortment.
  • Appropriate logs really should be taken care of when transferring possession.
  • When storing proof, suitable accessibility controls really should be executed and tracked to certify the proof has only been accessed by authorized individuals.


Electronic proof has very similar challenges as bodily proof it can get contaminated. So in most conditions, a forensic investigator will “image” the facts so that they can use that graphic for analysis somewhat than the unique media. An graphic is an specific replica of the media staying examined and is commonly made bit by bit to make sure entire accuracy. That replica can be made either through hardware or computer software. Either is high-quality as extended as it is certified for electronic forensics.

As soon as the forensic investigator has the specific replica of the unique, they get to the endeavor of analyzing the facts on the replica and deriving conclusions that the lawyer can use. There are numerous factors that appear into perform in that analysis. Some examples are outlined underneath:


If the facts is encrypted, then decrypting that facts will become essential for even more analysis. If the encryption was performed by technological innovation methods of the entity that owned the products, they may well have keys that can decrypt the facts. Otherwise, the forensic investigator has to use other decryption mechanisms to get to the facts.

Deleted Information

Crucial information essential for the circumstance may well have been deleted in which circumstance, a recovery may well be achievable relying on no matter whether the space that the file acquired was overwritten or not.


Metadata is facts about the information and can provide a whole lot of facts. E.g. if the unique file was 10 internet pages extended but it was modified to a 6 internet pages extended doc, metadata can seize the point that this modify was finished. This presents a line of inquiry to the forensic investigator to recover the remaining four internet pages if the doc is significant.

Example Works by using of Electronic Forensics

  • Cellphone forensics in distracted driving conditions can provide a treasure trove of facts about actions performed by the driver. A cellphone forensic pro can recover what was taking place on the cellphone at the time of the accident.
  • Forensics on electronic media and social media web pages can be used to apportion duty in conditions of cyberbullying.
  • Legislation enforcement has dealt with distinctive challenges when attempting to study the products of terrorism suspects. A good circumstance in issue is what transpired with San Bernardino shooter. The FBI ultimately relied on a 3rd celebration to unlock his cellphone.
  • Embezzlement and other accounting improprieties are a good example of collaboration between electronic forensics industry experts and forensic accountants. The electronic forensics pro recovers the facts and forensic accountant analyzes and interprets the facts to aid the lawyer.
  • Information in texts, e-mail, messaging expert services, or social media web pages can provide proof in the conditions involving infidelity.
  • Electronic Forensics can be used in facts breaches involving theft of company facts together with company and shopper documents. It can aid uncover significant facts and guidance the prosecution of the attacker.

Conditions for Choosing a Forensic Business

By now, it really should be distinct that most regulation corporations will need a electronic forensics partner. There are numerous variables that appear into perform when producing this final decision. Some critical factors are supplied underneath:

  • Forensic function can vary from staying deeply specialized (e.g. functioning with encrypted information or recovering deleted information) to staying rather simple (e.g. functioning with e-mail or texts when the login/password facts is offered). Legislation corporations will need to assess their certain prerequisites and search for that level of knowledge in their forensic partners.
  • Legislation corporations really should study a possible partner on their knowledge of the protocols outlined by SWGDE and NJI. An investigator that understands and follows the methodology outlined by these establishments demonstrates a greater degree of maturity and will, in normal, be a superior witness if that will become necessary.
  • Legislation corporations really should study the talent level of the employees of the forensic company. People today who are certified in electronic forensics (e.g. Licensed Personal computer Forensic Examiner, Licensed Cyber Forensics Specialist, GIAC Forensic Examiner (GCFE), GIAC Forensic Analyst, GIAC Community Forensic Analyst, GIAC Sophisticated Smartphone Forensics).
  • Pricing Model
  • Retainer: This would be a electronic forensic company that is on the retainer for the regulation company. In a retainer design, the electronic forensic company will provide endless expert services until finally an higher limit (number of incidents or hours) has been attained. This design may well be proper for regulation corporations which have regular electronic forensics requires.
  • Flat cost per incident: In this pricing design, the electronic forensic company charges a flat cost for investigating the whole incident. The cost is proportionate to the complexity of the investigation as ideal as can be identified. This may well be proper if the electronic forensics requires of the regulation company are occasional.
  • Time and product: In this pricing design, the electronic forensics company charges an hourly level which can vary from $200-$500 per hour relying on the capabilities of the investigator and complexity of the investigation. This may well be proper for those people conditions in which a regulation company has a scarce will need for electronic forensic expert services and the number of expected hours is small.


As the globe continues to immerse further and further into electronic systems and products, it will be significant for most regulation corporations to acquire a well thought out strategy for electronic forensics. An comprehension of this space and an appropriately crafted approach can aid regulation corporations attain constructive results in the conditions and investigations involving digital proof. The target of this posting was to demystify this space and define higher-level criteria that can be used to find a electronic forensics investigations company.


Dr. Anand Singh is the Main Information Safety Officer at Caliber Household Loans. He is also an adjunct college member at Mitchell Hamline College of Legislation and teaches Incident Administration and Reaction as section of the Cybersecurity and Privacy Legislation Certificate.

Chris Kent is a seasoned cybersecurity pro specializing in menace identification, defense and response. Chris has developed and managed Electronic Forensics, Incident Reaction, Risk Intelligence, and Safety Testing systems in the economic and countrywide defense industries.

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