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The Growing Field of Digital Investigation

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By: Rachel Laura M

June 8, 2015

Computer related crime is very prevalent in this day of global communication, people bringing their personal electronic items to work as well as many companies having people who do not work in house but instead opt to work remotely. For this reason, the field of digital investigation is an emerging field and up to date knowledge of the latest practices and technology in the field is paramount for the following professionals:
  • Anyone who may encounter a crime scene that might involve digital evidence.
  • Everyone who processes a crime scene that includes digital evidence.
  • Everyone who supervises personnel who process such crime scenes.
  • Everyone who manages an organization that processes such crime scenes.
The field of digital investigation involves the collection of digital evidence. Digital evidence is information and data of value to an investigation that is stored on, received, or transmitted by an electronic device. This evidence is acquired when data or electronic devices are seized and secured for examination. It is latent, like fingerprints or DNA evidence, crosses jurisdictional borders quickly and easily can be easily altered, damaged, or destroyed and is often time sensitive.The following are some potential sources of digital evidence:
  • Computer networks
  • Computer systems
  • Storage devices: external and internal hard drives, USB drives and memory cards
  • Handheld devices: tablets, smartphones, iPads
  • Peripherals: web cams and microphones
Digital investigators collect evidence with the following process:
  • Recognize, identify, seize, and secure all digital evidence at the scene.
  • Document the entire scene and the specific location of the evidence found.
  • Collect, label, and preserve the digital evidence.
  • Package and transport digital evidence in a secure manner.
Tools needed to collect digital evidence include:
  • Cameras (photo and video).
  • Cardboard boxes.
  • Notepads.
  • Gloves.
  • Evidence inventory logs.
  • Evidence tape.
  • Paper evidence bags.
  • Evidence stickers, labels, or tags.
  • Crime scene tape.
  • Antistatic bags.
  • Permanent markers.
  • Nonmagnetic tools.
Prior to collection digital evidence, investigators MUST make sure they have the legal authority needed to obtain said evidence and that the scene has been appropriately secured and documented.As digital investigation is such a growing field and so necessary, there are a variety of sources available for today’s professional to learn the skills needed in this field. In addition to providing valuable skills and knowledge, studying digital investigation and gaining knowledge is necessary in order to take the exam to obtain the Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator Certification.There are classes available both in the traditional classroom format as well as online and many of them are free. A good source of knowledge about the growing field of digital investigation is Cybrary IT, which offers free classes in an easy-to-follow self-paced online format. Participants can choose to watch all the training videos one at a time or use all the time they need to view them all. Studying digital investigation and gaining knowledge is necessary in order to take the exam to obtain the Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator Certification.
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