Updated March 20, 2023
Introduction to Cyber Forensics
The process of gathering and documenting proof from a computer or a computing device in a form presentable to the court by applying the techniques of investigation and analysis is called Cyber Forensics. Cyber Forensics is also called Computer Forensics. The aim of cyber forensics is to determine who is responsible for what exactly happened on the computer while documenting the evidence and performing a proper investigation. The storage media of the device under investigation is made into a digital copy by the investigators and the investigation is performed on the digital copy while making sure the device under investigation is not contaminated accidentally.
Need for Cyber Forensics
Cyber Forensics is needed for the investigation of crime and law enforcement. There are cases like hacking and denial of service (DOS) attacks where the computer system is the crime scene. The proof of the crime will be present in the computer system. The proofs can be browsing history, emails, documents, etc. These proofs on the computer system alone can be used as evidence in the court of law to sort out allegations or to protect the innocent people from charges.
How do Cyber Forensics Experts Work?
Let us now discuss the 7 steps how does it work.
1. Copying the hard drive of the system under investigation: Copying or imaging the hard drive means making a copy of the files and folders present on the hard drive. The replica of the drive is created on another drive-by copying every bit of data on the drive from the system under investigation.
2. Verification of the copied data: After the data is copied from the hard drive of the system under investigation to another hard drive, the forensic experts make sure if the copied data is exactly the same as the original data.
3. Ensuring the copied data is forensically sound: Based on the operating system used in the computer, the data written to the hard drive is in a format compatible with the operating system. Hence the forensic experts must make sure the data while being copied from the drive of the system under investigation into another drive is not altered in any way. That is, the data is copied using a write-blocking device in a forensically sound manner.
4. Deleted files recovery: The files deleted by the user on the computer can be recovered by forensic experts. The files are not deleted permanently by the computer and forensic experts know how to recover the deleted files.
5. Finding data in free space: The operating system sees the free space in the hard drive as space available to store the new files and folders but temporary files and files that were deleted years ago are stored here until the time new data is written into the free space. Forensic experts search through this free space to recreate those files.
6. Performing keyword search: Forensic experts make use of software that can go through the entire data for the given keywords and output the relevant data.
7. The technical report: The technical report must be an easy to understand document for anyone irrespective of the background. It should mainly focus on what is the offense, who is the offender and how did he commit the crime along with all the technicalities.
Below are some of the advantages given.
- Similar types of data and relevant data can be compared from different source systems to get a complete understanding of the scenario.
- Those data over a period that is relevant can be made trending using cyber forensics.
- The entire data can be scanned to identify and extract specific risks for future analysis.
- The efficiency of the control environment and policies can be tested by determining the attributes that violate the rules.
- It is used to set the trends of identification which the company people, consultants and forensic analysts are not aware of.
Following are some of the must skills one needs to learn.
1. Technical Aptitude: It is based on technology. Hence knowledge of various technologies, computers, mobile phones, network hacks, security breaches, etc. is essential.
2. Attention to detail: A forensic investigator needs to pay a great deal of attention to detail to examine a large amount of data to identify proofs.
3. Knowledge about law and criminal investigation: A forensic investigator must have knowledge about criminal laws, a criminal investigation, white-collar crime, etc. as much as he understands technology.
4. Good communication skills: A forensic investigator must be able to analyze and explain technical information in detail to others in the organization or in the court as part of a case.
5. Understanding of cyber security basics: Cyber security and cyber forensics are closely related fields and a strong foundation of cybersecurity helps in making a good career in cyber forensics.
6. Analytical Skills: Forensic experts need to have a good analytical understanding to analyze proofs, understand patterns, interpret data and then solve crimes.
7. Urge to learn: The field of cyber forensics is constantly changing, and the forensic aspirants must be enthusiastic to learn about emerging trends.
8. Enthusiasm to work with challenges: The crime investigations pertaining to law and order often consists of disturbing contents and events. The forensic aspirants must be able to work in such a challenging environment.
Cybercrimes are increasing on a regular basis and we need cyber forensics to solve these crimes. Cybercrimes are not only a threat to the organization but affecting human lives as well by encouraging drugs, terrorism, prostitution, etc. online. Hence it is important to fight cybercrimes.
Cyber Forensics as a Career
Looking at the current trends in technology and particularly cybercrime, it is the future of the IT industry. Indian market is growing like the U.S market, so security is of main concern and cyber forensics people are going to be the next highly paid people in the industry.
People will rely on computers, for security, and there will be people who will break them. The world will need people who can stop this from happening and think as these hackers do. Therefore, the demand for security professionals will continue to rise and cyber forensics is an evergreen field.
This has been a guide to Cyber Forensics. Here we discuss the need, advantages, future, and skills required to learn Cyber Forensics. You may also have a look at the following articles to learn more –