What is Computer Forensics, or CyberForensics?
Originally posted to wibc.com on 05/03/2011
Computer forensics, also called cyberforensics, is the application of computer investigation and analysis techniques to gather evidence suitable for presentation in a court of law. The goal of computer forensics is to perform a structured investigation while maintaining a documented chain of evidence to find out exactly what happened on a computer and who was responsible for it.
Forensic investigators typically follow a standard set of procedures: After physically isolating the computer in question to make sure it cannot be accidentally contaminated, investigators make a digital copy of the hard drive. Once the original hard drive has been copied, it is locked in a safe or other secure storage facility to maintain its pristine condition. All investigation is done on the digital copy.
Investigators use a variety of techniques and proprietary forensic applications to examine the hard drive copy, searching hidden folders and unallocated disk space for copies of deleted, encrypted, or damaged files. Any evidence found on the digital copy is carefully documented in a “finding report” and verified with the original in preparation for legal proceedings that involve discovery, depositions, or actual litigation.
Computer forensics has become its own area of scientific expertise, with accompanying coursework and certification.