Types of Forensic Activities
Secure Data Recovery computer forensic services involve a number of activities related to the collection and preservation of digital evidence:
- Crime scene investigations to collect and analyze all sources of digital data at the scene
- Tracing corporate network breaches and their root cause
- Recovering and rebuilding evidence from erased or damaged storage media
- Collecting evidence for company policy violations or personal matters such as infidelity
- Producing detailed investigative reports on collected evidence
- Collaborating closely with attorneys or law enforcement
Forensics engineers are also called upon to educate organizations on best practices for data protection and how to preserve evidence of wrongdoing.
Steps in Computer Forensics Investigations
The work of our computer forensics engineers requires rigor and awareness of the sensitive nature of the data under investigation. They follow a strict protocol of activities to ensure data preservation and evidence collection that stands up in court.
This step collects the details of the incident requiring investigation, which determines the best approach to take in identifying the evidence to collect and preserve.
A full system description is created including its technical specification, the OS, installed software plus its network configuration. Physical location, storage devices, amount of RAM and peripheral devices are also noted.
A chain of custody is established over data sources including storage, RAM, running process profiles, network connections, ARP cache plus open files or programs. Only trusted programs collect data rather than system-resident programs.
Timeline and Artifact Reconstruction
This step deeply analyzes file systems to determine file access and modification activity. It creates a detailed record of data artifacts, actions performed on them and their order. Sophisticated tools reduce information volume and help reconstruct a picture of programs executed, files downloaded, files opened or modified, the use of external storage and browsing activity.
Raw Image Reconstruction
Byte signatures known as “magic cookies” or string searches are applied to identify the format of raw data images that can be reconstructed such as images or executable code.
Additional data is recovered at this step that is hidden, encrypted, corrupted or deleted. Again, advanced software tools are employed by the forensics expert to accomplish these tasks.
Finally, the expert constructs a detailed report of his or her analysis by describing the analyses performed and their results. The report will display a logical, factual, scientific approach that may be replicated. It may also include recommendations for further investigative steps that may be necessary.
Additional Skills of Top-Notch Forensics Engineers
Besides an engineering degree and the discipline to conduct forensics investigations with exactness, the best forensics engineers require flexibility plus creativity since no two cases are ever quite the same. Unexpected challenges may arise such as the presence of anti-forensic software or broken components.
They also possess excellent communication and interpersonal skills as they often work with legal or law enforcement teams and may be called upon to provide expert testimony in court.
Despite such challenges, the work of computer forensic experts is overall quite rewarding. They have the satisfaction of knowing that their role is crucial to the successful and just resolution of many personal, business, civil and criminal matters.