18 Areas of Computer Forensics Services in a Nutshell

Knowledge
2022-05-23

Computer forensics services encompass a wide range of areas, including the ones not typically associated with the field of digital forensics in the traditional sense of the word. It’s truly one of the most diversified professions out there and every single case will test your mettle as a forensic computer examiner.

Contrary to popular belief, a certified forensic computer examiner is much more than someone who turns on a computer, goes through the files, and extracts whatever data may be of use when trying to crack a case. With the right set of skills, a cyber forensic expert can also recover the kind of data that criminals often try to hide, obfuscate, or delete.

To give you a better representation of what goes into the diversified landscape of computer forensics services, we’ll give you a glimpse into the various aspects of our work and present some unique challenges we may encounter along the way.

1. Intellectual property theft

intellectual property

The ease of access to information is one of the great things about living in a digital era. Unfortunately, it also makes it incredibly easy to steal intellectual property, especially if it’s a digital product. Even in a corporate setting, malicious insiders can sometimes just waltz into a room with a flash drive in hand and get away with copying sensitive company data without anyone being the wiser.

On the flip side, companies often hire sophisticated computer forensics services if they suspect something, and the good news is that intellectual property theft can be traced back to the perpetrators if enough clues are there.

2. eDiscovery

ediscovery

Also known as forensic electronic discovery, eDiscovery is a term used to describe the process of collecting vital information and evidence that’s relevant during litigation. Among other things, the field of eDiscovery forensics deals with examining and extracting all sorts of documents, presentations, and other multimedia files such as audio, video, and others.

Some cases require combing through big data, the kind that’s almost impossible to handle manually. Therefore, eDiscovery forensics experts have to rely on industry-grade tools such as Digital Forensic Lab that have the capacity to support big data analysis and present the relevant files in a court-friendly format.

3. Tracing email

tracing email

In the times gone by, telecommunications were the main channel of business correspondence. Nowadays, however, email has overtaken that role. But the very nature of email messaging platforms allows someone to create an account with little to no extra ID-verification steps, so impersonating someone else is easier than you may think.

This practice is otherwise known as email spoofing. Due to this, email forensics experts often face the challenge of having to trace down and unmask the true sender of email messages with malicious intent.

4. Computer forensics

harddisk detach

In recent years, computer and internet crime has been on the rise (the FBI received a grand total of 847,376 cybercrime complaints in 2021). This is due to the simple fact that computers and smart devices play an increasingly more prominent role in our society and day-to-day life.

A major part of computer forensics services is investigating the digital traces left behind by criminals and would-be hackers.

This can be:

  • Analyzing video footage
  • Going through computer logs
  • Tracing an IP address
  • Extracting data from encrypted files
  • Complete Database Forensics
  • etc.

Computer forensics is a much more extensive subject than it seems. After all, even a smartphone is in essence a computer that’s tailored to a specific purpose. And as time goes on, other types of digital devices may emerge, so digital forensics experts face a constant need to broaden their horizons.

5. Authentication of files

fingerprint

With nothing but basic computer literacy, creating a professionally-looking file is rather straightforward with today’s software. On the flipside, making an inauthentic forgery of a document is now also simpler than ever before.

For example, someone could take a screenshot of a payment statement and change a couple of numbers or change the date on an official document. One aspect of computer forensics services is making sure the document in question is legitimate.

6. Mobile technology

mobile

In the last decade or so, smartphones have evolved tremendously and are now readily accessible by anyone. These devices may be small in size, but in terms of raw processing power, they easily outperform even the best computers of the years gone by.

Unfortunately, just like computers, smartphones can be used as a vessel to conduct all sorts of illegal activity. The perpetrators may sometimes attempt to hide their tracks by deleting evidence, so a mobile device investigator will need to use sophisticated digital forensics tools like SPF PRO to recover the data.

7. Recovering data

data recovery image

Speaking of data recovery, this is an essential aspect of computer forensics services simply because the very nature of digital files makes them easy to delete. In some instances, a trained digital forensics expert can recover deleted files even if the device that stores them was damaged or its storage system corrupted.

For instance, Data Recovery System by SalvationDATA is one of the digital forensics software tools that can do this, all while preserving the integrity of the original file. Thanks to its cutting-edge functionality, data recovery experts can view the file’s usage history, the previous versions, who created it, and the list goes on.

8. IT control and audit

audit

Auditing is another lesser-known computer forensics service. However, since many businesses don’t have the IT background necessary to configure their systems in an optimal way, the service is very much in demand.

By hiring an IT control and audit expert, business owners can get to know their IT infrastructure better, optimize their network, and even see to it that there aren’t any cyber security leaks that could get out of hand.

9. Expert witnesses

expert witness

Oftentimes, digital forensics experts are summoned to court to testify as an expert witness. This is someone who has the proper education and knowledge on the subject so they can help shed some light on the truth of the matter and help the court reach a sensible conclusion.

Their area of expertise can be anything related to the digital investigation process or even malware, data breaches, video footage analysis, etc.

10. Family law

family law

Indeed, digital forensics experts play an important role in all sorts of legal proceedings, including family law.

As an example, a forensic analysis of email may reveal vital evidence of a spouse’s infidelity. It can also reveal whether the spouse is hiding assets, which is one of the tactics often used during divorce proceedings to avoid paying what is due.

11. Computer hacking investigations

using laptop

Whether it be as part of white-collar crime or simply dealing with unauthorized access issues, computer hacking is on the rise. According to Norton, more than 800.000 people get hacked per year.

Too often, someone might get hacked without even noticing, as this only gets apparent after their sensitive information gets stolen and misused in any number of ways. If you suspect something might be amiss, do not delay seeking help from qualified IT and cyber security professionals.

12. Workplace and fraud investigation

fraud

The workplace can be the source of all kinds of dubious or even illegal activity. It can be something as innocent as wasting time watching entertaining videos while the employees should be working, but they can also engage in something much more nefarious like stealing company secrets and sending them straight into the arms of the competition.

If the situation calls for a covert investigation, a digital forensics expert can accommodate. In the process, a forensic document examiner may look for traces of criminal activity by examining an employee’s device and looking into their email correspondence.

13. Internet investigation

hacker

The modern way of living we take for granted today wouldn’t be possible without the existence of the internet we use every day for shopping, banking, communicating, and other tasks. But there’s a dark corner of the internet in which shadier activities thrive.

Things like extortion, stalking, bullying, and slander, all of this are taking place in every breathing second of our lives, often in a place referred to as the dark web where people are engaging in illegal dealings while trying to conceal their true identity. It’s a digital forensic investigator’s job to uncover them and bring them to justice.

14. Search warrants

search warrant

In case the police have a legitimate and lawful reason to search someone’s home and seize their devices, they will require computer forensics services to properly extract and secure the evidence that may be present on them.

To make sure the evidence is admissible in court, the proper protocol needs to be followed and the chain of custody must be well documented.

15. Media conversion

play mobile phone

The legal system can have very specific requirements regarding what files and file formats are acceptable and what aren’t.

That’s why it’s often necessary to employ modern digital forensics tools like VIP 2.0 and its Ultra Transcoder feature that allows for lossless media conversion and thus preserves the integrity of the evidence.

16. Data duplication

text message

As a general rule of thumb, a digital forensics expert will always make an exact byte-for-byte copy of the original before proceeding to work on it.

This is to avoid accidentally ruining the integrity of the evidence and also to make the digital investigation process as smooth as possible and reduce disruptions if the device under examination needs to remain operational without being taken down for maintenance.

17. Document searches

discovery

In the old days, a digital forensics examiner would have to manually go through every file that’s stored on a device to extract the vital parts.

But thanks to modern digital forensics solutions like DRS by SalvationDATA, all the files can be extracted at the click of a button, which is a major competitive advantage for those who offer computer forensics services.

18. Electronic surveillance

video forensic analyst

Sometimes, a digital forensic expert is tasked with electronic surveillance, whether it be setting up the system, monitoring the premises, or analyzing the video footage with the help of sophisticated digital forensics tools such as VIP 2.0.

A part of the job may require the identification of objects and individuals in the camera’s lens or perhaps even measuring where a vehicle is headed and at what speed.

VIP 2.0 allows you to make accurate calculations like this on the fly.

Conclusion

As you can see, computer forensics services are as rich and varied as you can imagine.

By reaching the end of this article, you now have a better idea of what challenges one may encounter in this line of work and what software tools come in handy to overcome them and complete the job.

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