What Is Digital Forensics?

What is digital forensics?

Digital forensics is the process of uncovering and interpreting electronic data from digital devices. Data collected from these devices help identify blind spots in an organization’s digital infrastructure, serving as a preventive tool against cybercrimes. In addition, digital forensics also assists in pinpointing the origin of an attack, tracing it back to the source while enabling the recovery of lost or stolen data as part of cyber incident response efforts after a breach has occurred.

Who are incident responders?

Acting as watch dogs and first responders against cybercrimes, cyber security incident responders provide invaluable support in times of crisis with their proficiency in understanding the mechanics of a virtual network and the vulnerabilities within systems. They collect, process, preserve, and analyze the digital footprint left behind by cyber criminals. While each case presents its own set of challenges, incident responders are able to determine, compile, and interpret large volumes of electronic data.

 

Incident responders are skilled in recognizing and retrieving data that is intentionally hidden, password-protected or encrypted while ensuring that data is not damaged or altered during the examination. They are also equipped with the tools needed to maintain evidentiary value of the data for legal action while running counterintelligence against those acting with nefarious intent.

 

Analyzing a breach also produces insights that can be used to prevent future occurrence. A deeper understanding of how a particular threat works enables incident responders to establish a timeline and provide direction for future investigations to be carried out more swiftly. Cyber criminals are constantly evolving in their techniques and methods, requiring incident responders to continuously update their skillset and adopt a multi-disciplinary investigative approach.

Is digital forensics reliable?

Digital forensics is a discipline that provides decision-makers with factual and reliable evidence of digital traces on any device under investigation. It is trustworthy to the extent that the incident responder or the firm is accredited with ISO 17025, or equivalent, providing validity to the methods used. The certification is evidence that regulatory frameworks are adhered to and have produced the most reliable evidence given the available data, making it admissible in a court of law.

 

However, investigative results and human interpretations depend on transparent access to client information as well as the proper use of specialist tools and applications designed to interpret and generate digital data. Tools may be used improperly by untrained responders, leading to faulty investigative conclusions. Where client data is limited (whether by lack of pre-breach preparation or unwillingness to disclose), investigative results may also be limited.

 

Critical to improving the reliability of investigative results depends on sufficient pre-breach incident response planning, including security event monitoring and logging, as well as ensuring your incident response team uses high-quality tools in which they are both properly trained and experienced.

Digital forensics in the corporate world

Cyber threats are no longer solely external. The rise of phishing emails, inadvertent data leaks, and malicious insider threats remains top concerns of IT leaders across the globe, accentuating the need for accurate and efficient digital forensic investigations supported by a comprehensive cyber incident response plan. The protection of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is another aspect of business that requires vigilance as it has not only financial but also legal repercussions, often requiring highly valuable digital forensic evidence in a court of law.

As more companies turn to digital forensics experts to investigate their digital infrastructure, this provides eye-opening insights into the company’s digital vulnerabilities, both as they pertain to outside threats and security weaknesses within the business.

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