Earlier, digital forensics was conducted by the government agencies only, but over the years, it has taken a commercial form. The tools were used to be customized; later, specialized analysis tools were developed for both the private and public sectors. Digital forensics is the process of extracting evidential data from the suspected and targeted digital information assets. This data can then be presented in case investigation and legal proceedings. This is a traditional method that has existed since the stored data on computers are considered as a reliable source of evidence.
This is a continuation of 9 Phases of Digital Forensics – Part I, where we dealt with the first four phases of digital forensics.
The phases of digital forensics
Phase V – Data Acquisition
Data acquisition is the process of retrieving Electronically Stored Information (ESI) from suspected digital assets. It helps to gain insights into the incident while an improper process can alter the data, thus, sacrificing the integrity of evidence. The entire acquisition process must be auditable and acceptable to the court.
Data acquisition can be of two types – Live Data Acquisition and Static Data Acquisition.
- Live Data Acquisition – Collection of volatile data. Data acquired from cache, RAM, and registries.
- Static Data Acquisition – Collection of non-volatile data. For instance, data collected from flash drive, read-only memory (ROM), or other hard disk drives.
Phase VI – Data Analysis
Under data analysis, the accountable staff scan the acquired data to identify the evidential information that can be presented to the court. The phase focuses on analyzing the data and proving how the crime occurred and who the perpetrator is. This phase is about examining, identifying, separating, converting, and modeling data to transform it into useful information. The findings then submitted to the authority for conclusions and decision-making.
This phase includes –
- File analysis for data usage, timestamps, location, and the users involved
- Timeline generation for identifying and categorizing data depending upon its significance for the case
Phase VII – Evidence Assessment
This crucial phase of digital forensics is all about the evaluation of acquired evidence. The process of evidence assessment relates the evidential data to the security incident. There should be a thorough assessment based on the scope of the case.
Phase VIII – Documentation and Reporting
This is a post-investigation phase that covers reporting and documenting of all the findings. It should be done by keeping the target audience in mind. Also, the report should have adequate and acceptable evidence. As all the jurisdictions follow a different set of standards for reporting evidence, the document should comply with the applicable standards to be acceptable in the court of law.
Phase IX – Testify as an Expert Witness
The forensic investigators should approach the expert witness to affirm the accuracy of evidence. An expert witness is a professional who investigates the crime to retrieve evidence. These professionals then testify in court, citing all their findings.
With the coverage of all the nine phases, you must have understood how digital forensics work. To gain skills that can help you go through all these phases, sign up for Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (C|HFI). The program helps you to obtain hands-on experience in cyber forensic skills. With the adoption of the imparted skills and knowledge, you will be able to perform digital forensics like an expert. Join this training program to secure your career in digital forensics.