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What is Forensic Readiness?

What is Forensic Readiness?

Risks to Business Continuity

Any organization’s operations may experience disruptions due to natural disasters, accidents, hacking attacks, sabotage or negligence. Many of these incidents lead to legal or regulatory issues, insurance claims or the loss of critical business data in which case computer forensics play a critical role. A business may mitigate the negative effects of such incidents by preparing ahead of time for quick discovery and retrieval of relevant evidence and the restoration of valuable data through digital forensics.

The Role of Digital Forensics

Through the use of digital forensic services such as those provided by Secure Data Recovery Services, the “footprints” left by users of computers, mobile devices, networking equipment or monitoring equipment can be traced. The subsequent reconstruction of timelines and artifacts are invaluable in locating an incident’s root cause, uncovering negligence or preparing a legal defense. Digital forensics also play a preventative role. When a business optimizes evidence collection, its preservation and analysis before an incident occurs, it significantly reduces the monetary and time costs of a post-incident investigation while increasing its effectiveness.

Forensic Readiness

Even medium-sized businesses generate tremendous amounts of data. The cornerstone of forensic readiness is the organization’s ability to sift this data to determine which of it may be pertinent in legal actions, disciplinary procedures or analysis of attacks on IT infrastructure.

Data Collection

Some data is likely to be collected already from backup files, desktop and server logs, audit trails or as a result of compliance with governmental data retention directives. Much of this data retention, however, is aimed at responding to rare, high-impact incidents. Forensic readiness also requires data collection for more frequent but less impactful events such as unauthorized access to company records or inappropriate browsing behavior. Thus, an enterprise’s forensic readiness plan must include additional types of data sources such as email, social media activity, chat programs, pluggable storage devices and mobile devices.

Benefits of Readiness

Applying digital forensics in a preparatory manner has multiple benefits:
  • Since 2015, US Federal Rules of Civil Procedure rules set out requirements that parties in legal disputes must take reasonable steps to preserve digital evidence and make it available as part of legal discovery. Forensic readiness reduces the cost of acquiring such evidence.
  • Should investigation be needed that involves digital evidence, forensics preparedness will minimize the costs of such investigations and lead to a faster resolution.
  • Forensic readiness creates another line of defense for a business against internal or external harmful activity since it will be easier to identify the culprit.
  • Better systems monitoring via forensic readiness means attacks, malware or unauthorized access attempts are uncovered more quickly before they penetrate deeper into the corporate IT infrastructure.

Avoid Exacerbating Disruptions

While most businesses plan for large-scale disruptive events, they often fail to prepare for unexpected incidents that violate corporate policy, impact IT infrastructure, operations or intellectual property. When such incidents occur, a reactive response leads to expensive investigations that have difficulty reconstructing digital evidence after the fact or in a manner that ensures a legal chain of custody necessary for introducing such evidence in a court of law. As computer technology continues to advance, new inappropriate or malicious threats will continue to arise. While forensic readiness is an essential defensive tool against such threats, it needs to be constantly reviewed and updated to maintain effectiveness.
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