Understanding the Legalities of Computer Forensics

Have you or your company been hit by a cyber-attack? Did an intruder penetrate your network and install illicit programs? Or did someone try to steal or destroy valuable digital assets?

These things happen every day to organizations, both big and small. Such attacks can be averted with simple precautions.

However, once you fall prey to them, computer forensics can help you figure out what happened, who did it, and how to prevent it from happening again.

But before you start collecting evidence and building your case, it’s essential to understand the legalities of computer forensics.

So, let’s dive deep into it.

What is computer forensics?

As LY Lawyers explain it, computer forensics is the branch of digital forensic science pertaining to evidence found in computers and digital storage media.

The goal of computer forensics is to examine digital media in a forensically sound manner to identify, preserve, analyze, and present facts and opinions about digital information.

Why is computer forensics important?

In recent years, the importance of computer forensics has grown exponentially.

With the rise of computers and digital media, crimes involving technology have grown too. Although following the best practices for attack surface management helps, computer forensics plays a vital role in investigating these crimes when precaution fails.

Using forensically sound methods, computer forensics examiners can collect and analyze evidence from computers and digital media. This evidence can then be used to help solve crimes and prosecute offenders.

Understanding advanced computer forensics laws might be challenging as you need some technical knowledge.

But, having a basic understanding is easy as computer forensics follow the same legal rules as other physical forms of evidence.

There are two types of issues related to computer forensics:

  • Those relating to the collection of evidence
  • Those relating to the analysis of evidence

Let’s examine both in detail.

Issues relating to the collection of evidence

Maintaining evidence integrity

One of the most critical issues relating to the collection of evidence is ensuring that it is collected in a way that does not compromise its integrity.

If evidence is not collected properly, it may be deemed inadmissible in court. This could have a significant impact on the outcome of a trial.

So, all steps taken during the computer forensics process must be well documented to maintain the integrity of the evidence.

Access authorization

Another issue that can arise during evidence collection is unauthorized access to data. This can occur if an examiner or investigator accesses data they are not authorized to view.

Unauthorized access to data can lead to the evidence being considered tainted and, as a result, inadmissible in court.

So, before an examiner begins their work, they must obtain authorization from the proper authorities.

Issues relating to the analysis of evidence

Correct analysis

Once evidence has been collected, it must be analyzed in a forensically sound manner. If evidence is not analyzed properly, it could lead to false conclusions being drawn.

One issue that can arise during the analysis of evidence is the use of invalidated or unproven methods. This can lead to incorrect or misleading results.

So, only methods validated by the law should be used during the analysis of evidence.

Following proper protocols

Another issue that can occur during the analysis of evidence is the failure to follow the proper chain of custody procedures. If evidence is not correctly tracked, it could be lost or tampered with.

Chain of custody issues can also lead to evidence being deemed inadmissible in court. Therefore, all steps taken during the analysis of evidence must be correctly followed and well documented.

Only trained investigators should conduct analysis

Finally, only trained and certified computer forensics investigators should conduct the analysis of evidence. Untrained personnel are likely to make mistakes and damage the evidence, leading to incorrect results.

Although it requires a technical background with IT knowledge, the steps to becoming a forensic investigator are easy to follow.

So, these are some basic rules and principles to help you understand the legalities of computer forensics. Now that you know the basics, you can go on to learn technical IT terms and read about computer forensic legalities in detail.