digital investigator

The Life of a Digital Forensics Investigator: All you need to know

digital investigator

As the world moves to remote working amid the Covid-19 pandemic, cybercriminals are seizing the opportunity to make the most of the moment. Coronavirus-related phishing attacks have increased 400% over the past month, leading to an insane amount of loss in data and finances.  Finding this data and, more importantly, who is responsible for such attacks is all a part of what a digital forensics investigator does. 

Read about What is Digital Forensics- 

Who is a Digital Forensics Investigator? 

A digital forensics investigator is someone who has a desire to follow the evidence and solve a crime virtually. To put it another way, a security breach happens at a company, resulting in stolen data. In this situation, a computer forensic analyst would come in and determine how the attacker gained access to the network, where they traversed the network, and what they did on the network, whether they took information or planted malware. Under those circumstances, the role of a digital forensic investigator is to recover data like documents, photos and emails from computer hard drives and other data storage devices, such as zip and flash drives, with deleted, damaged or otherwise manipulated. 

5 Steps of Digital Forensics 

Since digital forensics is the process to produce evidence used in a court of law, there is a certain process followed:  

  1. Identification

Firstly, find the evidence. This includes its place of storage. 

  1. Preservation

Next, isolate, secure, and preserve the data. This includes preventing people from possibly tampering with evidence 

  1. Analysis

After that, the computer forensic analysts reconstruct fragments of data and draw conclusions based on the evidence found 

  1. Documentation

Following that, create a record of all the data to recreate the crime scene. 

  1. Presentation

Lastly, follow the process of summarizing and explanation of the conclusion 

For further insight into what exactly a digital forensics investigator does and how they gather data, here is a great explanation: 


Digital Forensics skills  

Digital forensic experts are usually categorized as cybersecurity professionals, yet they require a specialized skill set to conduct a cyber investigation. To become a part of a digital forensic team, the professional needs to have coordination with different departments of the organization, such as human resources, IT, legal, and even operations. Apart from that, their interpersonal skills also come in full view when an unexpected incident occurs. 

 Here’s the infographic explaining what you need to become a digital forensic expert. 

Digital Forensic Skills

Challenges of Digital Forensics 

While new investigative techniques are being developed and adversaries are finding ways to thwart those techniques, technology that’s been around for a while is still working to their advantage. To this end, two major challenges that go hand-in-hand are encryption and legal. For this reason there have been numerous legal cases on hold because of encrypted digital informationWhether the case involves child pornography or terrorism, if the accused has encrypted information and they don’t comply with the authorities, they could unfortunately never be properly prosecutedAnother dated technology is steganography, which is where information is hidden inside another file making it look benign. Some other notable challenges include: 

  • Data hiding in storage space 
  • Residual data wiping 
  • Attacking the tools and/or investigators 

But probably the most notable challenge digital forensic investigators face today is the cloud environmentWhile the advantages of cloud computing are extremely beneficial to an organization, they are also challenges to forensics investigatorsThe basic principle that the cloud is somebody else’s computer holds some truth, but in reality, huge server farms host most dataAt the same time, since the cloud is scalable, information can be hosted in different locations, even in different countriesThis makes it extremely difficult to gather accurate and trusted evidence in a case because establishing a proper chain of custody becomes nearly impossibleIn addition to this, the jurisdiction of the data could be in question, which means different laws would apply to the data. 

Know more about History of Cloud Computing

How to Become a Digital Forensics Investigator 

Becoming a digital forensic investigator in today’s IT landscape is a very rewarding career as it is becoming increasingly popularBecause organizations and government agencies are adopting cloud services at a high rate, hackers are finding new ways to gain access to sensitive and private data. This is why EC-Council has created a program, Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI) Certification, to prepare candidates with real-world and current technologies to help organizations bring enemies to justice and help prevent future attacks. 

People Also Ask

What is Digital Forensics?

Digital forensics is the branch of forensic science that applies digital tools and techniques to investigate cybercrime. In simple terms, it can be defined as the identification, extraction, and preservation of digital evidence that can be admissible in the court of law.  

Considering the technical aspect of digital forensics, it can be divided into five major categories, which are – 

  • Computer forensics 
  • Mobile device forensics 
  • Network forensics 
  • Forensic data analysis 
  • Database forensics
Why do we need digital forensics?
Computer forensics is also important because it can save your organization money. The main goal of computer forensics is to identify, collect, preserve, and analyze data in a way that preserves the integrity of the evidence collected to use in a legal case.

Read more: How to become a Digital Forensic Investigator in 2020

Who uses digital forensics?
Federal and state authorities look for used digital evidence to convict lawbreakers, IT managers, security, and legal teams. In order to do so, digital forensic analysts collect and preserve evidence to analyze and defend against a cyberattack. At the same time, they can stop an insider threat or complete an internal investigation.

Read more: 5 Cases Solved Using Extensive Digital Forensic Evidence

What are digital forensic tools?
Digital forensics tools can fall into many different categories, some of which include database forensics, disk and data capture, email analysis, file analysis, file viewers, internet analysis, mobile device analysis, network forensics, and registry analysis.

Read more: Best Digital Forensic Tools

What are the types of Digital Forensics?

Based on its application, digital forensics can be categorized in two ways –   

  1. Operating systems, such as Windows, Linux, Mac, iOS and Android Under this category, digital forensic professionals examine the OS of the targeted system that helps track vital digital evidence.  
  1. Devices and platforms, such as mobile devices, network devices, cloud architecture, dark web According to this approach, the cyber investigators look for digital evidence on different platforms across which a perpetrator could have left the footprints. 
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