Computer Forensics Lab: 7 Golden Design Rules for Optimal Working Conditions

Work Tips

The outcome of a digital forensic investigation has the potential to change someone’s life forever. The analysis, the thinking process, the logical deduction… it all happens in a place called computer forensics lab. But although it may sometimes seem like it, it’s not magic that happens. It’s a structured process that’s based on science and technological breakthroughs.

As a matter of fact, the computer forensics technology that can be found inside a digital forensic laboratory is the result of years and years of research and refinement. For obvious reasons, as time goes on, better technology may emerge, so it’s important to keep your computer forensics lab up to date if ensuring optimal working conditions is the goal.

Contrary to what some might assume, the technological state of your forensic lab is far from being the only consideration to make. Anything that aligns with the purpose of optimizing the costs and providing an optimal workflow experience for the investigative team is very much relevant in this regard.

To break down what goes into the mix, the following are what we consider to be the 7 golden computer forensics lab design rules for optimal working conditions:

1. Scientific workflow


Ensuring an optimal scientific workflow is one of the most important, if not the most important aspect of running a modern target forensics lab, which is why we’ve listed it at the top. To make sure these conditions are met and that your digital forensics team can unlock your team’s highest potential, you need a professional and reliable Digital Forensic Lab solution that yields several benefits:

  • Time savings: due to not losing time on hardware and software incompatibilities, having the ability to automatically generate detailed forensic reports, having the option to uniformly visualize evidence on a single screen, not having to worry about maintaining the chain of custody at every step since the software does it for you, being able to access and scan multiple devices and file formats from a single point, including videos, databases, mobiles, and others.
  • Improved accuracy: due to being able to solve more cases, reliable methodology and the results that follow, stable hardware and software that won’t break down in a critical moment, optimized and refined work process, greater office comfort, streamlined case management, etc.
  • Increased reputation: due to modern and sophisticated training provided by SalvationDATA, modern hardware and software tools, and the consistent results you’ll get using our modern digital forensic lab setup.
  • Reduced labor costs: due to letting big data analysis accomplish in a fraction of time what would take a dedicated team of digital forensics experts hours if not days.

Get your scientific workflow to the next level with the help of SalvationDATA’s Digital Forensic Lab

SalvationDATA’s scientific workflow system revolves around the following steps:

  1. Case acceptance
  2. Consolidation
  3. Recovery and extraction
  4. Structuralization and export
  5. Big data analysis and result display
  6. Case discussion
  7. Generating a detailed forensic report


SalvationDATA’s workflow recommendations are the result of numerous years of experience and refinement.


2. Safety and security

Cyber Security Lock

You’ve likely heard the saying that ‘safety comes first, ‘better safe than sorry, or something similar. A cyber forensic laboratory is no exception; after all, it’s where the evidence is stored. At the same time, proper safety and security conditions also make for an important psychological factor that influences productivity.

After all, the digital forensics investigative team should be confident that someone vouches for their safety so they can focus on the task at hand.

To ensure proper safety and security in digital forensic lab requirements, keep the following points in mind:

Storing the evidence

When not in use, the evidence should be properly stored and locked away in a safe, a locker, or a locking cabinet. In other words, a digital forensics lab setup should intend for the evidence to be stored separately from other gadgets, documents, or gear.

By keeping it under lock and key, you get to control who has access to it and that the chain of custody is maintained at all times.

Internal workspace security

Ideally, the internal space should be separated into different sections not everyone can access. This allows you to take a certain staff member inside one room without necessarily granting access to another (where you store vital evidence or other sensitive documentation, for example).

A well-designed forensics science lab setup also controls which staff members have access to it based on a clearance level (low-security, mid-security, and high-security areas).

External workspace security

The security of your computer forensics lab is only as strong as its weakest link. The last thing you’d want is to have someone break in to threaten your staff, steal valuable digital forensics technology and equipment, or tamper with the evidence, so you should never skimp out on a good external security system with CCTV surveillance and an alarm.

For obvious reasons, you should always keep the premises locked and always check an individual’s ID before letting them in.

3. Heating and ventilation

Heating and ventilation

When discussing optimal working conditions for a digital forensic lab, it’s important to look at it not only from a technological and cost perspective but also from a psychological one. After all, the digital forensics experts likely spend a sizeable chunk of the day working there, and the working conditions they’re subjected to affect their mood and ultimately their productivity. Everything considered the temperature of the premises and how ventilated they are can be quite a big deal in many regards.

When tweaking your ventilation system, have the engineer run through a couple of common scenarios. What are the optimal settings when the room is full and does the same apply when the room is at about half of its capacity? Keep in mind that generally speaking, it costs less to have a smaller room ventilated (and vice-versa). Whether you’re about to heat or cool the room, always rely on what the thermometers are telling you.

4. Electrical


Keep in mind that your digital forensic laboratory is packed full of sensitive cyber forensics technology and gear that requires a stable source of power. In other words, any sudden drops in current can cause it to malfunction, so it’s important to provide the right electrical groundwork for it.

Since all the computers and hardware in your computer forensics lab tend to consume a substantial amount of power, you should divide the load in such a way that there are no more than 2 connected on each circuit. Circuit-wise, a good practice is to group similar digital forensics technology and devices together and separate computers from other types of office devices (such as printers, coffee makers, and similar).

Note that insufficient current causes additional stress in electrical devices, thus greatly reducing their lifecycle. Furthermore, it’s a good idea to have a backup power source in case of power outage so you can continue your work. To protect against sudden disruptions in power, connect every computer to a surge protector.

5. Spacing and furniture


The fact of the matter is, that spacing affects productivity, so don’t make your staff bump into each other for no reason. Instead, try to give every person plenty of room to do their job through clean space design. Granted, this is easier to accomplish when you’re setting up a digital forensic lab from the ground up. However, there is always the option to rearrange the space to create more suitable working conditions.

Space recommendations

  • The ideal table space per person should be between 24 inches and 48 inches. Try to provide enough space not only for the person working there but any computer forensics technology or piece of equipment you might be using as well.
  • Keep each section separated on the basis of its intended usage (such as the evidence section, main presentation area, and so forth).
  • Have a common area that is large enough to accommodate a decently-sized group of people.
  • Provide sufficient lighting so that the digital forensic examiners can clearly see what they’re doing (this is especially important when working with small parts).

Furniture and placement recommendations

  • Provide ergonomic and adjustable chairs and desks suitable for a long day at work.
  • Ensure plenty of storage space for documents and tech gear (lockers and drawers will do nicely).
  • The place where you’re storing evidence needs to be placed under lock and key, so consider using evidence lockers.
  • Place the monitors so that they don’t face the windows for privacy concerns.

Digital Lab Division in SalvationDATA

Although you can get creative with it to some extent, the optimal placement of objects comes down to science.

6. Acoustics


The computer forensics lab you work in is a place where sensitive case-related data is being shared. To address these privacy concerns and prevent any sensitive data from leaking outside of the lab or having someone eavesdrop on your team during a heated discussion, it’s important to soundproof it.

There are many ways to achieve this, and the more soundproofing elements you add in the equation, the better the result will be.


Placing a good carpet on the floor is a relatively non-invasive process, and it gets the job done wonderfully. Not only does it dampen the noise, but it can also be a nice stylistic improvement to what would otherwise be a dull-looking workspace.

In case it gets worn out or torn at any point, it doesn’t take much to replace it.

Tiled ceilings

Tiled ceilings are great for the purpose of soundproofing the room. Oftentimes, people soundproof every other part of the room but forget about the ceiling, failing to realize that sound can be transmitted through these as well.

Noise generators

To go above and beyond and truly make sure no one overhears a conversation, place a noise maker outside the forensic lab. You can get a dedicated white noise-making station, but if budget is a concern, a simple radio with decent loudness can work just as well.


White noise generators are potent privacy-ensuring tools.

Other considerations

Installing a raised floor can help make the room more soundproof. You should also consider soundproofing the perimeter walls.

7. Cyber security

Network Security

Keeping your cyber forensic lab in line with the latest cyber security standards and best practices is just as important as physical security. Don’t forget you’re working with sensitive data, which could spell out a colossal disaster if someone were to intercept it, alter it, or steal it.

Although there’s no way to cover the extensive field of cyber security in merely a couple of sentences, we’ve condensed it down to the most important points to keep in mind.


Make sure no one can sniff out the network traffic – that includes your very own employees and staff. A good approach is to encrypt network traffic which is typically accomplished by using a secure transfer protocol or by using a VPN.

Consider installing a firewall so you’ll be the first to know whenever there’s a suspicious-looking inward or outbound connection.


Software and operating systems that are out of date are like sending out an invitation for someone to compromise your cyber security defenses. An issue with open source digital forensics software is the fact that sometimes the original developers abandon the project and no longer release any updates for it.

On the other hand, professional digital forensic software solutions such as SalvationDATA’s very own Digital Forensic Lab don’t suffer from this problem and you can always count on ongoing maintenance and support.


Coming up with strong passwords is one of the computer security essentials. In many cases, it’s the only layer of protection against an unauthorized third-party accessing your sensitive data, so it’s your responsibility to have them include:

  • Numbers
  • Special symbols
  • Capital letters
  • Non-repetitive strings that are not easily guessable

In addition, you may want to consider implementing 2FA as an additional cyber security measure.


Your staff should be trained to recognize modern cyber security threats and risks such as:

  • Phishing
  • Unsecured Wi-Fi
  • Social engineering
  • Untrusted websites
  • Lack of 2FA
  • Weak passwords
  • etc.

This includes every staff member and everyone who ever comes in contact with the cyber forensics technology and computer systems that your department is using.


The way you design your computer forensics lab can make all the difference between success and failure in the competitive fields of digital forensics.

If you apply all the lessons we’ve discussed above, you will be positioning yourself for the former rather than the latter.