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Pros And Cons Of Digital Forensics

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For the most part, digital forensics has developed and evolved with the advent of computing. The technologies at our fingertips today allow for not just easier and faster investigations but also allow for more accurate ones.

However, certain aspects of digital forensics have not fully evolved yet. Digitally recorded evidence can be used without a firm understanding of how it works or without having a proper understanding of its implications.

This post discusses some specific pros and cons that digital forensics may have when conducting investigations in an age where records are saved on storage devices like thumb drives, hard drives, and memory cards instead of paper documents.

What Is Digital Forensics

“Digital forensics” refers to the discipline of interpreting digital evidence as it applies to a case. It is essentially the study of computer forensics, digital intelligence and information technology.

Digital forensics has taken on many different forms over the years, with most practitioners following more than one branch of the discipline. Over the course of the projected period, it is anticipated that the global market for digital forensics will expand at a CAGR of 10.97%. (2021-2026).

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In digital forensics, an investigator must be able to take an in-depth look at a computer system. This can be done through digital examination  or other means such as using traditional tools like search warrants and physical examinations.

How Is Digital Forensics Important

Digital forensics has been used in the past for investigations to investigate incidents regarding network forensics security, identity theft, and homicides. It has become a necessary tool for law enforcement as well as the legal system to gather evidence against convicted criminals.

In 2020, 43,300 instances of online identity theft were reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (ICC) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), according to both organisations. The most common fraud was phishing, with 2,41,342 reports.

Law enforcement in the United States use digital forensics most frequently when dealing with an offender who has used their computer system or email service to commit a crime online. The offender uses their computer to send or receive emails containing images of child pornography or stolen property, such as credit cards or Social Security numbers.

Pros Of Digital Forensics

Digital forensics process is the process of using various tools to examine digital evidence in order to piece together what happened during an event or crime. This process is often used by law enforcement agencies and computer forensic investigators to help solve crimes.

There are many different digital forensic tools available, and the choice of which to use depends on the type of evidence being examined and the goal of the investigation. The launch of Attivo Networks’ ADSecure solution for Google Cloud’s Managed Service for Microsoft Active Directory was scheduled for 2020. (AD).

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Forensic computer examiners, also known as computer forensic analysts or electronic forensic tools investigators, are professionals who use specialized computer evidence recovery and analysis tools to examine electronic data.

They may be employed by law enforcement agencies, private corporations, or legal firms. Computer forensic science is a relatively new field, but it is growing rapidly as more and more businesses and individuals rely on electronic data storage.

1. Flexibility

Digital forensics can be adapted to a wide variety of cases. It is presented to investigators and criminalists in many different ways ranging from PowerPoint slides to DVDs containing digital photographs and video files.

2. After-Action Reviews (AARs)

After an investigation is completed, the investigator can view a digital file, DVD or hard drive to review the evidence. This allows for a more detailed analysis of what happened during the investigation and can prevent future errors from happening.

3. Controlled Accessibility

For data investigations and digital evidence, the “E3 Forensic Platform” 3.0 edition was released in July 2021 by US-based Paraben Corporation.

An organization that chooses to store sensitive information on storage devices must be able to access it when needed with only authorized personnel having access as well as being able to securely remove any sensitive information at any given time.

4. Accuracy

The accuracy of digital forensics depends on the investigator’s own experience, interpretation, and understanding of how digital files are created, saved and deleted. For example, a common misconception is that when a file is deleted from a hard drive that it is permanently destroyed.

This is not true however; the data in fact remains on the drive until overwritten by another file. Some files may even be recovered if they were not overwritten with new data and are still intact on the hard drive where they were previously stored.

5. Speed

Digital forensics is much faster than the traditional paper-based approach to gathering evidence. Digital forensics allows an investigator to get relevant information and analyze it quickly.

This can help investigators work more efficiently, lowering the costs related to investigations while also increasing the amount of time they have to devote to other matters.

6. Versatility

Digital forensics take a variety of forms, so they can be used in a wide range of circumstances and in different industries. Different types of digital forensics include computer forensic analysis, digital intelligence analysis, electronic discovery and content-monitoring services.

Some digital forensics are done using computers, while others are more traditional and use DVDs, CDs and USB flash drives.

7. Saves Money

Evidence related to criminal investigations can be expensive to gather. For example, in a child pornography case the investigator may need to hire forensic computer analysts who are experts in a particular type of file format because the original evidence is in that format.

This can be costly and if an organization doesn’t have the money to pay for it they may not get an investigation started or at least not as quickly as they otherwise might have been able.

Digital forensics requires less money up front to gather relevant information because less time is spent gathering evidence and more time is available for analysis of the collected data.

8. Speed Of Response

Digital forensics can be used in emergency situations to quickly gather digital evidence and have it analyzed the same day.

Cons Of Digital Forensics

Digital forensics relating is the process of identifying, extracting and analyzing evidence from storage media and physical evidence.

Wireless forensics is the process of identifying and extracting evidence from wireless devices. Database forensics is the process of identifying and extracting evidence from databases.

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For instance, in 2005, a floppy disc helped police track down the BTK serial murderer, who had killed at least 10 people but evaded arrest since 1974. As mobile phones and other digital devices become more prevalent, so does the need for malware forensics.

Mobile phone forensics is the process of extracting data from a mobile phone in order to determine its history or to gain information about the user.

This can be done through physical means, such as by extracting the SIM card, or through logical means, such as by accessing the phone’s memory. Electronic device forensics is similar, but deals with any type of electronic device, such as a computer.

1. Lack Of Resources/Prioritization

The first time an organization becomes aware of an incident, they may not have the resources or a proper understanding of how to gather the relevant information to get started with an investigation.

In addition, organizations may also lack the manpower required to handle such incidents and therefore know when and where to get additional resources as well as how to prioritize their efforts. These are all problems that can be addressed through proper digital forensic training.

2. Inexperience

While everyone is capable of using a computer, not everyone can be an expert in analyzing their usage and creating useful information from them. Digital forensics is an emerging field and has not yet caught up to its paper-based counterpart.

It will take time for digital forensics to become truly accepted by the general public, along with becoming as accurate and efficient as the paper-based approach. There are benefits to digital forensics; however, it takes time to discover them and time to realize their advantages over the traditional method of gathering evidence from a crime scene.

3. Different Organizations

The National Software Reference Library (NSRL) was created with the purpose of gathering software from diverse sources and incorporating file profiles computed from this software into a Reference Data Set (RDS) of data.

A forensic analysis will depend upon the organization performing it in order to accurately extract information. For example, the type of files and computer system used to create certain information may be different than that of the forensics team conducting the analysis.

In this case, digital forensics may not be as effective on a case as it would have been in a past situation had a previous organization analyzed that same type of file using their own methods.

4. Location

An organization may not have all the necessary resources located within their offices, but may instead require them to travel many miles away from home in order to collect evidence related to a crime.

The organization may even have to travel overseas and communicate across time zones. This can be a problem in some instances where they are unable to accomplish all their tasks in the required amount of time, thus hindering the investigation.

5. Accuracy Vs. Speed

A digital forensic analysis is more accurate than a paper-based approach, but often lacks the speed that is needed for an investigation.

The accuracy of digital forensics may not always be as high as it needs to be for it to compete with a traditional approach at this point in time, since digital forensics have not been around for as long as paper-based evidence gathering techniques. This is a problem that it may take time for digital forensics to overcome.

6. Cost

Another problem with digital forensics is the cost. The process is quicker and more efficient but it is not cheap.

For example, in the paper-based approach a single analyst can look at a case, decide what information is necessary to gather, and proceed to pull the information from evidence without any further assistance from the rest of his or her team.

In digital forensics pretty much every piece of data on a computer system has to be looked at by multiple analysts who then analyze whatever data they deem useful. This can take up a lot of time and money which is why in some cases an organization will not invest the necessary resources to actually gather relevant evidence.

7. Time Of Response

An organization may be able to work quickly, but it takes a longer amount of time than the traditional approach to gather evidence because they must wait until the proper experts respond to their requests.

They may also have to wait until they receive all the relevant information they need so that they can then go through it and put together a report detailing what they deem relevant evidence while ignoring any other useless data.

8. Weak Evidence

Weaker evidence is not necessarily a bad thing. For example, if an organization does not have enough personnel to gather all the relevant data for an investigation then they may be better off gathering as much information as possible rather than missing out on any evidence at all.

There is a fine line between collecting every bit of relevant information and gathering every bit of irrelevant information. This can be hard to draw because it depends on who is doing the forensics and how they are trained, but this is one drawback that digital forensics will have to overcome in order to compete with the traditional approach.

Final Note

It has been proven by law enforcement and private investigators that digital forensics can be used to solve various crimes. It has provided large amounts of evidence, in the form of emails, pictures, videos, and other data to catch criminals. Digital forensics can be used for many different types of purposes, such as:

After a crime has been committed it is important to gather as much evidence as possible in order to solve the crime. Using digital forensics it is possible to gather the right evidence at the right time so that it can help investigators determine who may be responsible for their crime.

Last Updated on October 10, 2023 by Priyanshi Sharma