What is Digital Forensics?
Digital forensics also known as digital forensic science is a discipline of forensic science that entails the recovery and study of digital traces discovered in digital devices, frequently in relation to computer crime. The phrase digital forensics was coined as a synonym for computer forensics, which is now extending to the study of any devices capable of storing digital data.
Digital forensics is a branch of forensic science concerned with identifying, obtaining, processing, analysing, and reporting on electronically stored data. Electronic evidence is present in practically every illegal activity, and digital forensics assistance is critical for law enforcement investigations.
Computers, cellphones, remote storage, unmanned aerial systems, shipborne equipment, and other devices can all be used to gather electronic evidence.
The primary purpose of digital forensics is to collect data from electronic evidence, convert it into actionable information, and present the results in court. To guarantee that the findings are acceptable in court, all processes employ good forensic methodologies.
The Evolution of Digital Forensics
The Florida Computer Crime Act acknowledged the first computer crime in 1978.
The phrase “computer forensics” first appeared in academic literature in 1992.
The International Organization for Computer Evidence (IOCE) was founded in 1995.
The first FBI Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory was created in 2000.
The Scientific Working Group on Digital Evidence (SWGDE) produced the first digital forensic book, “Best Practices for Computer Forensics,” in 2002.
Simson Garfinkel found concerns with digital investigations in 2010.
Types Of Digital Evidences
- Electronic evidence includes, but is not limited to, the following examples:
- Media files (photo, video, audio);
- User account data (usernames, passwords, avatars);
- Emails (content, senders’ and receivers’ information, attachments);
- Web browser history;
- Phone calls (video, audio);
- Accounting program files;
- Windows registry system files;
- RAM system files;
- Any type of digital files (text files, spreadsheets, PDF files, bookmarks, etc.);
- Records from networking devices;
- ATM transaction logs;
- GPS logs;
- Electronic door logs;
- CCTV camera records;
- Hidden and encrypted data;
- Printer, fax, and copy machine logs;
- Computer backups.
The Digital Forensic Process
The identification process primarily entails determining what evidence is there, where it is held, and, finally, how it is stored (in which format).
Personal computers, mobile phones, PDAs, and other electronic storage devices are examples of electronic storage medium.
Data is separated, protected, and preserved throughout this period. It entails stopping individuals from utilising the digital device in order to prevent tampering with digital evidence.
In this stage, investigators rebuild data fragments and develop inferences based on evidence discovered.
During this phase, a record of every visible data must be produced. It aids in the recreation and reassessment of the crime scene. It entails adequate documenting of the crime scene, including photography, drawing, and crime-scene mapping.
In this final phase, the process of summary and explanation of findings is accomplished.
List of Some of the Best Forensic Tools
Below are some of the best digital forensic software tools:
ProDiscover Forensic is a computer security tool that allows you to locate every data on a computer drive. It can safeguard evidence and produce high-quality reports for use in legal proceedings. This application allows you to extract EXIF (Exchangeable Image File Format) information from JPEG images.
Sleuth Kit (+Autopsy) is a Windows-based utility package that facilitates forensic examination of computer systems. This tool helps to examine ones hard drive and smartphone.
CAINE (Computer Aided Investigative Environment)
This tool can be integrated as a module into existing software tools. It automatically generates a timeline from RAM.
Encase is a programme that assists users in recovering evidence from hard drives. It enables investigator to do an in-depth investigation of files in order to collect proof such as papers, images, and so on.
SIFT Workstation is an Ubuntu-based computer forensics distribution. It is one of the greatest computer forensic tools for conducting digital forensic and incident response investigations.
AccessData’s FTK Imager is a forensic toolbox that may be used to obtain evidence. It can make duplicates of data without altering the original evidence. Investigator may use this tool to limit the quantity of useless data by specifying criteria such as file size, pixel size, and data type.
Bulk Extractor scans for files, directories, or disc images. It extracts data without processing the file system or file system structures, allowing it to access different areas of the disc in parallel and hence be quicker than the typical utility. The second benefit of Bulk Extractor is that it can handle virtually any type of digital media, including hard discs, camera cards, cellphones, SSDs, and optical drives.
Framework for Digital Forensics
The Digital Forensics Framework (DFF) is a free and open-source computer forensics framework based on an Application Programming Interface (API). The programme can study hard drives and volatile memory, as well as provide reports on system and user behaviour on the device in question.
ExifTool is a system for reading, writing, and altering information across numerous file formats. The reading of metadata, which may be accomplished using command-line operations or a simple GUI, is of special relevance to the digital investigator. Investigators, for example, can drag and drop different files, such as a PDF or a JPEG, and discover when and where the material was created—a critical component in establishing a chain of evidence.
The SANS Investigative Forensics Toolkit (SIFT) is an open-source incident response and forensics technology collection designed to conduct extensive digital investigations in a variety of scenarios. The toolkit can investigate raw discs and several file types in a safe, read-only mode without altering the evidence discovered.
Also Read: Digital Forensic Tools and Software