One of the biggest threats facing businesses and corporations today is that of Cyber-attacks and threats. If these are large enough in scale and magnitude, it could even be considered as an act of Cyber-attacks, in which a significant impact can be felt in both regarding cost and human emotion.
In this regard, once the lines of defense have been beefed up, these tests can push these defense mechanisms to their absolute breaking point, to determine and uncover any hidden weaknesses or holes.
Regarding the former, this is where the role of forensics comes into play. For instance, any remnants of the Cyber-attack and any evidence left behind at the scene needs to be collected very carefully collected and examined. It is from this point onwards then the questions of “who, what, where, when, and why” can be answered by the forensics examiners and investigators.
It is important to keep in mind that the field of forensics, especially as it relates to Information Technology is very broad in nature, and involves many subspecialties. These include digital forensics, mobile forensics, database forensics, logical access forensics, etc. to just name a few.
A Definition of Computer Forensics and Its Importance
The term forensics literally means using some sort of established scientific process for the collection, analysis, and presentation of the evidence which has been collected. However, all forms of evidence are important, especially when a Cyber-attack has occurred. Thus, a formal definition of computer forensics can be presented as follows:
“It is the discipline that combines the elements of law and computer science to collect and analyze data from computer systems, networks, wireless communications, and storage devices in a way that is admissible as evidence in a court of law.”
Obviously, when a Cyber-attack has occurred, collecting all relevant evidence is of utmost importance to answer the questions which were outlined above. However, keep in mind that the forensics examiner/investigator is particularly interested in a particular piece of evidence, which is known specifically as “latent data.”
In the Cybersecurity world, this kind of data (also known as “ambient data”) is not easily seen or accessible upon first glance at the scene of a Cyber-attack. In other words, it takes a much deeper level of investigation by the computer forensics expert to unearth them. Obviously, this data has many uses to it, but it was implemented in such a way that access to it has been extremely limited.
In this article, we provide an overview of the field of computer forensics. We focus primarily on what it is about, the importance of it, and the general steps that are involved in conducting a computer forensics case.
A computer forensics job involves conducting investigations, data recovery, and electronic discovery. As one, you need to possess a solid foundation of technical experience and expertise, possess strong communication skills and the ability to meet an individual’s expectations. The job scope is very wide. Let’s look at 10 of the key responsibilities as below.
1. Plan, organize, conduct, and manage a variety of computer forensic examination activities such as conducting live analysis on networks, and multiple platforms.
2. Provide advice on related technical issues to enhance forensic engagements.
3. Provide computer forensic services such as digital evidence preservation, analysis, data recovery, tape recovery, electronic mail extraction, database examination and etc.
4. Manage and perform comprehensive technical analyses and interpret of computer-related evidence such as e-mail, accounting software, various databases, and information stored on electronic devices.
5. Ensure that evidence collection methods are conducted, managed, and archived in a manner consistent to maintain preservation and protection of data and evidence.
6. Ensure all lab hardware and software are verified and validated as required by the State Law.
7. Evaluate and troubleshoot a variety of technical issues including hardware and software troubleshooting.
8. Conduct security assessments, penetration testing, and ethical hacking and conduct exams on compromised computers and servers.
9. Work according to the budget by completing it within the timeframe.
10. Perform other job-related duties as necessary such as demonstrate effective communication and work closely with partners, managers, staff, and clients.
The list goes on.
It is worth mentioning that as computer forensics, you are expected to have knowledge and experience in operating systems such as Windows, Macintosh, Linux or UNIX, and DOS. Besides, you must possess good writing and communication skills. Last but not least, as a result of multi-tasking, the ability to manage it is critical. Hence, critical thinking, problem-solving, and the ability to endure long working hours is vital.