How Digital Forensics Assists in Collecting Evidence
Businesses may sometimes need to conduct an investigation to uncover details about employee theft, expose cyberattacks on the network, and determine whether an unauthorised person accessed critical business information. This is when digital forensics can assist business owners in finding evidence based on which they can take appropriate action.
Commercial clients acquire the services of a private investigator for this purpose, since PIs have the expertise to extract reliable information without compromising on data integrity, whilst abiding by the law during the process to avoid legal issues.
Digital Forensics Investigation
When it comes to any investigation, the importance of digital evidence can’t be denied. Private investigators use cutting-edge technology and search computer systems to recover deleted data files, collect relevant information by monitoring the internet search history, and expose security breaches.
These investigation services are critical in solving digital or cyber attack crimes as well as other concevntional crimes, so a business may find digital forensics useful in the following scenarios:
• When an employee or business partner has allegedly stolen confidential files to cause harm to the company
• When an employee under investigation deleted data files from their work system to hide their unethical activities
• When the internet history and logs of digital activity can assist in solving a corporate crime
• To identify the origin of a cyberattack on the network
• To expose the threat level of network security breaches
• When collecting the record of correspondence including emails and messages is required
When businesses need forensic investigation services, they usually hire private investigators with expertise in corporate investigation services. These investigators visit the client’s office to access digital devices for data extraction, as in accordance with Australian law, PIs can’t acquire these devices on their client’s behalf.
Conducting A Forensic Investigation – Process
A Forensic investigation may prove effective in investigating the allegations of corporate misconduct. For this purpose, PIs explore data files stored on the system hard disk as well as collect information from the cache and volatile memory. They may also check the record of emails and social media activity to collect relevant information.
When the security of the network is comprised due to malware attacks, then installing antivirus software isn’t enough. Knowing the origin point of the malware attack helps in improving the network security down the track. Further, you can identify whether an employee deliberately targeted the system with malware to inflict harm to the business.
In such cases, private investigators would need to monitor network traffic and analyse programs installed on the system to identify the starting point of the malware attack.
The essential part of the investigation process is to collect information whilst ensuring its integrity, in order to preserve evidence credibility. A suitably qualified investigator may take a forensic image of the hard disk to analyse data present on the disk and then store the original device at a secure place to preserve evidence.
This forensic image is basically an exact copy of data extracted from the hard disk. It can be analysed by the investigator to extract evidence which is then added to the investigation report. Business clients can refer to this information to strengthen the security of the network and take legal action against fraudulent employees or associates if necessary.
Sources of Collecting Digital Evidence
Private investigators gather and analyse information and then present evidence to clients through the investigation report. During the investigation, they may need to access multiple data sources to collect information.
The most common data source is the system hard disk, but investigators may need to use data recovery software to recover deleted files. Similarly, it’s important to access hidden data files that aren’t accessible to users such as Metadata.
Metadata provides information about data files created and stored on the hard disk.
What if the user manipulated the original data? What if they changed the file extension to deceive investigators and hide critical information?
Metadata, therefore, validates the reliability of collected data and ensures it can be presented as evidence during legal proceedings.
Furthermore, the investigator accesses backup data files created to avoid data loss. Whether the backup is stored on external storage devices or cloud storage, they would access the source and retrieve data for evidence gathering.
How Apple Company Revealed Employee Data Theft Through Digital Forensics Investigation
In 2014, Apple’s Autonomous Car Division started hiring a team of engineers to work on self-driving vehicles. Xiaolang Zhang was recruited in 2016 and was originally from China, but moved to the US for employment opportunities.
After working with the project “Titan” team for around two and a half years, he resigned from the company, sharing with his manager that he intends to return to China to stay with his mother. The management came to know he intends to join an electric vehicle manufacturing firm back in China and got suspicious of his strange behaviour and sudden resignation.
Their cyber security team conducted a forensic investigation and analysed his work devices to look into his online activity. A few weeks prior to his resignation, his network data consumption had significantly increased.
Alarmed by this unusual activity, they looked into data files and download logs to find out he had accessed and downloaded a myriad of data files from the company’s database which contained trade secrets and confidential information about products.
Based on this digital evidence, the company took him to court for conspiring with a competitor and stealing intangible business assets.
Forensic investigation experts don’t only assist businesses with collecting reliable digital evidence but they also abide by the law to save them from legal issues.
Do you need Internet Forensic Computing Investigation services to inspect digital devices and extract valuable information? Then our team can guide you through the process!