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DFIR Investigations And Witness Testimony Course Review

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By: Prasanna Peshkar

March 11, 2021

Cybercrime is more common than ever, and the attacks are getting more complicated. The eyes and skills of a qualified expert witness are crucial. The possibility of becoming an expert witness in court can be a difficult one. The question and answer scenario in which one must witness can look uncomfortable. This course addresses the purpose of the expert witness, the method an expert should understand from the gathering of digital data to reporting, the process of testifying in court, the laws that direct experts, and the dos and don'ts of a valid testimony.

The target audience for this course is digital forensics and incident response professionals preparing to testify for the first time, those interested in learning more about the process from collection and analysis to testimony.

DFIR Investigation

When showing testimony – electronic or otherwise – to judges, it is important to have expert testimony supporting the evidence. This DFIR Investigations and Witness Testimony course from Cybrary is intended for digital forensics and incident response professionals preparing for first-time testimony. Being an expert witness in court can be difficult. This course is geared toward any witness who awaits to testify at trial as an expert.

Students start by learning about expert witnesses' roles and then conducting a bit of a forensic concept review. Next, they learn more about the investigative process and the expert report that comes out of that process. Finally, they finish up with some testimony and Do's and Don'ts.

The syllabus of this course has been broken into ten modules. Module 1, the students learn about the role of an expert witness. In this module, students discover that an expert witness testifies because they have the experience, ability, background, practice, or education and has the skill that may be important to a party trying to uphold its side of the incident. The expert is not summoned to testify because of prior engagement in actions that pressed the lawsuit. Students also learn that an expert witness testifies intentionally by complying with one of the defendants or the court.

In Module 2, students review the forensic concept. This module explains how digital forensics is applying science to the classification, compilation, analysis, and interpretation of data while preserving the integrity of the data and preparing a stringent chain of custody for the data.

Modules 3 and 4 shows the investigative process and the expert report. In this module, students ascertain how planning digital forensic actions set a framework for identifying and stopping needless rework, time, and obstacles. They also understand how to plan, use checklists and standard procedures, and why the process is unpredictable. Finally, they learn the role and importance of the expert report. In other words, students realize that the expert report is the official record of findings, analysis, and how an expert will speak during testimony. It's going to be prepared and signed by the witness and prepared according to federal rules.

Modules 5,6 and 7 cover the US Constitution, the trial process, and the federal rules of evidence and procedure:

  • The modules give an overview of how the US Constitution establishes the court system.
  • They review the difference between a judge and a jury trial and several different rules such as the federal rule of evidence, federal rule of civil procedure, federal rule of criminal procedure number, state and local rules, and a concept known as the work product doctrine.
  • Students learn about the anatomy of a trial and the process of identifying who the members of the jury are going to be in a process known as a voir dire.
  • The testimony will often start with a jury trial. Identifying who the members of the jury are going to be in a process known as a voir dire and voir dire for the jury is very similar to the voir dire that experts go through.

Module 8, 9, and 10 cover how to provide depositions and affidavits, the difference between written and oral testimony, and how affidavits and declarations are important. These modules will give students the testimony experience. This is where they learn what's known as a redirect examination, and it's great that there's an opportunity in many cases to have a redirect examination. Students will learn the most important part of how the redirect examination allows them to clarify ideas through cross-examination. The testimony comes from reliable principles and methods. The reliability argument is important here, and students understand how to generate the argument and whether the process is reliable.

Once all the modules are covered, students will be able to:

  • Understand and explain the role of an expert witness.
  • Understand the rules that direct expert witness work and testimony.
  • Recognize the differences between a consulting expert and a testifying expert
  • Understand the value of documentation and effective investigation procedures.
  • Feel confident with keeping their work on a witness stand.
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