Computer Forensics can reveal what appears to be hidden.
Computer forensics refers to the process of collecting and analyzing latent evidence generated by computers and other digital devices. The elements required include knowledge of the law and computer science in addition to data collection techniques.
Investigations in will also include collecting and analyzing data collected from computer networks, electronic storage devices,wireless networks,and electronic devices and preparing collected evidence to be presented in courts. Electronic devices leaves invisible trails that can not be shredded. Exploring that trail, by digging up data to expose what, when where and why is a primary purpose of computer forensics.
Computer forensics falls within the broader legal concept of electronic or e-discovery. The process includes gathering data,documents or email in preparation for legal action that may lead to trial. With the increase in the use of the internet, the instances of Cybercrime has increased in parallel and so has the need for Computer Forensics experts. Searches for cybercriminals are now processed by megabytes, but computers, network logs and wireless devices are not only used for evidence as proof of guilt. Electronic trails can also be used as alibis for those who are wrongly accused. Computer Forensics sees the computer as crime scene.
Electronic evidence can now be found everywhere. Digital memories never forget. A hard drive is a gold mine for locating every file that was ever created, saved, downloaded or even deleted. In short, a hard drive can be seen as the perfect time machine. Handheld devices, smartphones, digital cameras, iPads and flash drives, email and instant messaging can also be used to discover electronic evidence.
Anything that contains digital memory may hold evidence. GPS devices can be used to track a persons location and any digital device used to access the web can be searched for Listing of places the visitor has visited on the web.
Social networks can also provide transcripts of chats and posts and due to the prolific use, are quickly becoming the primary source of e-evidence. Networks or Internet Service Providers are now required by law to maintain records for all transactions that can be examined as evidence.
Computer forensics can be both a skill and a science.
Computer forensics is much more than digging through data, documents and memos. The more important component is examining the evidence and figuring out what it says. Examining evidence marks a shift from the science of forensics to the demanding art of investigation. There is still no complete technology that can assemble clues or test theories, follow intuition or interpret evidence. Scientific inquiry is more an art than science, that requires rational and creative thinking, which is still the domain of human beings.
The field of computer forensics is a relatively new discipline and the governing and related laws are still in a state of flux as knowledge is required of more legal issues of presentation of evidence as it applies in the courts.