digital forensics

9 Phases of Digital Forensics – Part I

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digital forensics

Professionals dealing with evidence know how a vaguely referred object sometimes becomes a vital asset for the case. Digital forensics is a cybersecurity domain that extracts and investigates digital evidence involved in cybercrime. To pursue a cybercrime legally, organizations need proof to support the case. And that’s when Digital Forensic Specialists enter the picture.

Enterprises employ cyber forensic experts for investigating cybercrimes – the crimes that use digital information assets. These experts offer multiple services, including security to the device in question, reconstruction of modus operandi, extraction of digital evidence, and several others. This domain may look simpler when foundational knowledge is considered, but when in practice, it gets complex. The experts deal with strict time constraints, which makes the entire process very challenging. Apart from all this, the extracted evidence should be preserved in a forensically sound environment so that there will be no compromise with the evidentiary value. Professionals use tools to create a copy of the drive, which they use to retrieve information.

Know more about Cyber Forensic Process

Understanding Digital Forensics

digital forensic phases

Digital forensics serve corporations as well as legal institutions. The process is extensive and requires a secure environment to retrieve and preserve digital evidence. These nine phases summarize the entire digital forensics –

Digital Forensics Explained in Phases

The digital forensic process starts with the first responders – the professionals who are responsible for handling the initial investigation.

Professionals responsible for the phase – First Responders
Network Administrator Law Enforcement Officer Investigating Officer
Skills required to become a first responder – knowledge of the entire investigation process
Responsibilities of a first responder

  • Identifying and securing the crime scene
  • Preserves digital evidence
  • Acquires data from the site
  • Conducts preliminary interviews to collect useful information
  • Documents the findings

Phase I – First Response

The action performed right after the occurrence of a security incident is known as the first response. It is highly dependent on the nature of the incident. The early response can minimize the damage of the attack.

Phase II – Search and Seizure

Under this phase, the professionals search for the devices involved in carrying out the crime. These devices then carefully seized to extract information out of them. Cyber investigators need a warrant from the authorities to search the victim or attacker’s digital assets. Along with that, they need to comply with the laws defined for handling the devices. For instance, experts in the U.S. need to comply with the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Phase III – Collect the Evidence

After the search and seizure phase, professionals use the acquired devices to collect data. They have well-defined forensic methods for evidence handling. For instance, procedures dictating how to collect hard copy and electronic documents.

Phase IV- Secure the Evidence

The forensic staff should have access to a safe environment where they can secure the evidence. They determine if the collected data is accurate, authentic, and accessible. As evidence is a fragile form of data, it can be altered and damaged easily. It’s crucial that professionals handle digital evidence with care.

In the next part of the series, we will deal with the five remaining phases. The phases that will lead you to witness testification starting from the data acquisition.

With the rising cybercrimes, organizations require professionals who can handle the after procedures of a security incident. The process needs to be taken care of in a secure environment for conducting legal actions. Learn digital forensics with our Certified Hacking Forensic Investigator (C|HFI), a well-acclaimed program that helps you trace back the perpetrator.


What is the process flow of digital forensics?
The process of digital forensics usually takes place on digital assets and broadly be considered as data acquisition, analysis, and reporting. The seized device and collected evidential data then presented during the court hearing.

Also read: Digital Forensics: New-age Forensic Science

What are digital forensic techniques?
Various digital forensic techniques include live forensics, data recovery, password recovery, timeline analysis, and many others.

Also read: Anti-forensic Techniques: A Call for Digital Forensics

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