Cyber forensics is the branch of forensics that focuses on conducting an investigation based on shreds of evidence collected from digital devices. Cyber forensics is a complex investigative method and needs 100% dedication and appropriate adherence to every step. Regardless of the type of investigation, multiple digital forensic tools are required, and each one of them makes the investigator capable of performing hard drive and email forensics.
In this article, we will break down the steps involved in a digital forensics investigation and the techniques and tools used by forensics investigators.
Steps Involved in a Digital Forensics Investigation
Step 1. Identification and Preservation
Firstly, the investigator visits the crime scene, finds all the valuable evidence, and jots down where the pieces of evidence are stored. He or she will then be required to secure the digital shreds of evidence and preserve them from getting tampered with by other people.
Step 2. Proof Analysis
Analysis of digital shreds of evidence is the most crucial step in forensic analysis. It involves the fragmentation of the data collected and making conclusions based on all the proof collected from the crime spot.
Step 3. Documentation
In this step, the investigator will need to collect everything together and create a record to remake the crime scene to speed up the investigation process.
Step 4. Presentation in court
Lastly, the investigator will summarize the data and conclusions to present significant evidence in court.
Reliable Digital Forensic Tools
Investigators usually utilize multiple open-source digital forensic tools and different techniques for the separate steps of an investigation. Here are a few of those tools:
1. Disk analysis tool
Evaluating the images and the hard drives collected as digital evidence helps solve cases. The Sleuth Kit analyzes images and hard drives and is widely used behind the scenes along with Autopsy, a digital forensics platform and graphical interface for The Sleuth Kit. These cyber forensic tools are free for users, and online training is available for newbies.
2. Network analysis tools
More than half of cyberattacks are network-based, and practical analysis of the network can help malware identification and enable the investigator to access even deleted data. Wireshark is one of the most prominent digital forensic tools that supports live traffic capture.
Learn more about Wireshark
3. Image creation tool
Autopsy and The Sleuth Kit analyze images and provide evidence that the pictures used as digital evidence are real and not modified. Still, Autopsy doesn’t support image creation. Investigators then use forensic tools like AccessData Forensics Toolkit (FTK) for creating disk images. These created images can then be analyzed by The Sleuth Kit or Autopsy.
4. Memory forensic tool
Not all valuable or confidential information is stored in hard drives collected from the crime scene. Instead, some forensic information may be stored in RAM, and this is where The Sleuth Kit doesn’t help. Investigators instead use Volatility, a renowned cybersecurity tool that helps analyze volatile memory.
5. Windows forensic tool
The Windows registry is the most obvious configuration for currently running applications. This can act as a storage sector. Investigators use specialized tools like Registry Racon to recreate the Windows registry from digital evidence like a forensic image.
6. Mobile forensic tool
Numerous organizations allow their workers to use their mobiles at work, and with the increasing importance of mobile forensics, an efficient mobile-focused tool has become a vital part of cyber forensics. Cellebrite UFED is probably the most significant and efficient mobile forensic tool with an extraordinary capability to support different platforms.
7. Linux tools
Multiple Linux cyber forensics tools act as virtual machines and are easily available. The most reliable option for this is CAINE (computer-aided investigative environment) which acts as a solution for other tools’ complex configuration.
Gain Hands-On Practice for Various Digital Forensic Tools
To summarize, tools are a vital part of a digital forensics investigation. If you are looking to learn about these tools and the various phases of an investigative process, you can always choose a comprehensive computer forensics certification course. To that end, EC-Council’s Computer Hacking and Forensic Investigator (CHFI) helps you become a certified computer examiner. It is a globally known, holistic digital forensic certification that comes with hands-on lab experience, helping you establish yourself as a Certified Forensic Investigator.