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Digital forensic process A digital forensic investigation commonly consists of 3 stages: However, the growth in size of storage media and developments such as cloud computing  have led to more use of 'live' acquisitions whereby a 'logical' copy of the data is acquired rather than a complete image of the physical storage device.
This approach has been embodied in a commercial tool called ISEEK that was presented together with test results at a conference in Inan article in the International Journal of Digital Evidence referred to this step as "an in-depth systematic search of evidence related to the suspected crime.
The evidence recovered is analysed to reconstruct events or actions and to reach conclusions, work that can often be performed by less specialised staff.
Traditionally it has been associated with criminal law, where evidence is collected to support or oppose a hypothesis before the courts. As with other areas of forensics this is often as part of a wider investigation spanning a number of disciplines.
In some cases the collected evidence is used as a form of intelligence gathering, used for other purposes than court proceedings for example to locate, identify or halt other crimes.
As a result, intelligence gathering is sometimes held to a less strict forensic standard. In civil litigation or corporate matters digital forensics forms part of the electronic discovery or eDiscovery process.
Forensic procedures are similar to those used in criminal investigations, often with different legal requirements and limitations. Outside of the courts digital forensics can form a part of internal corporate investigations. A common example might be following unauthorized network intrusion.
A specialist forensic examination into the nature and extent of the attack is performed as a damage limitation exercise. Both to establish the extent of any intrusion and in an attempt to identify the attacker.
However, the diverse range of data held in digital devices can help with other areas of inquiry. For example, personal documents on a computer drive might identify its owner.
Alibis and statements Information provided by those involved can be cross checked with digital evidence. For example, during the investigation into the Soham murders the offender's alibi was disproved when mobile phone records of the person he claimed to be with showed she was out of town at the time.
Intent As well as finding objective evidence of a crime being committed, investigations can also be used to prove the intent known by the legal term mens rea.
For example, the Internet history of convicted killer Neil Entwistle included references to a site discussing How to kill people. Evaluation of source File artifacts and meta-data can be used to identify the origin of a particular piece of data; for example, older versions of Microsoft Word embedded a Global Unique Identifier into files which identified the computer it had been created on.
Proving whether a file was produced on the digital device being examined or obtained from elsewhere e. Document authentication relates to detecting and identifying falsification of such details.
Limitations[ edit ] One major limitation to a forensic investigation is the use of encryption; this disrupts initial examination where pertinent evidence might be located using keywords.
Laws to compel individuals to disclose encryption keys are still relatively new and controversial. For civil investigations, in particular, laws may restrict the abilities of analysts to undertake examinations.
Restrictions against network monitoringor reading of personal communications often exist. The computer misuse act legislates against unauthorised access to computer material; this is a particular concern for civil investigators who have more limitations than law enforcement.
An individuals right to privacy is one area of digital forensics which is still largely undecided by courts. The US Electronic Communications Privacy Act places limitations on the ability of law enforcement or civil investigators to intercept and access evidence.
The act makes a distinction between stored communication e. The latter, being considered more of a privacy invasion, is harder to obtain a warrant for. The ability of UK law enforcement to conduct digital forensics investigations is legislated by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.network, security, spreadsheet, technology, word processing, informatics, • Discuss data management and the difference between data mining and data cleansing in health care.
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