In this modern age, criminals have far more ways to incriminate themselves than they did even ten years back, let alone fifty years ago. One reason for this is the growing popularity of the internet. Just about everyone uses the net, but to the criminal kind, this super computer network is like a dream come true. Hacking. Fraud. Identify theft. These guys are all over it. Thanks to digital forensics and the ever increasing use of eDiscovery in the legal realm, criminals can now be foiled in countless new ways.
What is Digital Forensics?
Crime scene investigators apply a myriad of forensic techniques to collect evidence to use in solving crimes. From dusting for fingerprints to DNA sampling, there are endless methods that can be used to collect this evidence, including digital forensics, which entails gathering it from electronic devices. This sort of forensics encompasses all digital devices that are capable of storing data, including PCs, smartphones, tablets, and the whole shebang.
Digital forensics typically happens in three stages. The first stage involves the acquisition of evidence. In this stage, the evidence is sometimes duplicated and blocked, to prevent the original information from being modified. Next, the evidence is analyzed by experts on either side of the case; both defense and prosecution. Finally, once conclusions have been drawn about the findings, a report on the findings is created and presented in court.
Often, though not always, digital forensics is used to aid in investigating computer crimes. However, it can also be employed by companies in private industries, enterprises, and small businesses to examine possible network intrusions and drive other internal investigations. Additionally, this data-driven practice is commonly used as part of the eDiscovery process in civil and criminal court cases.
What is eDiscovery?
eDiscovery encompasses all discovery in litigation that involves any exchange of information that took place in an electronic format. Once an attorney becomes privy to eDiscovery in a court case, it is put on a legal hold and digital forensics is applied to substantiate the validity of the claim. It can make for a lengthy court process that sees many stages before evidence is finally deemed admissible in court. The stages of the official eDiscovery process as implemented by court systems are identification, preservation, collection, processing, review, and production.
Since 2006, many forms of electronic transmissions have been introduced as possible evidence in court cases, including emails, voicemails, and even instant messages. December 1, 2006 brought about the first amendment to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, allowing electronic transmissions to be considered in court. The FRCP was further amended in 2010.
The Impact of eDiscovery on Courts
Introducing eDiscovery has become a cornerstone in the way crimes are investigated and tried in a court of law. It can have a huge impact on court proceedings because if a party is guilty of electronic crimes or noncompliance, it offers what is essentially a foolproof way to uncover the evidence necessary to prove the crime. Due to the emergence of data mapping and the plethora of informational sources at our disposal, digital forensics, a specialized form of eDiscovery, can be used to trace almost any electronic transmission to its origin.
Digital forensics and eDiscovery are on the rise, and the business world would be wise to take notice. Already viewed as an integral part of IT security, digital forensics offers a highly effective way for companies to curb issues such as fraud and misuse of computing resources by employees. eDiscovery has implications that could help companies save money and mitigate the risks that threaten to put them out of commission. Both offer solutions for governing critical data, satisfying regulatory compliance, and adopting better business ethics.
MSPs can make some extra profit by providing forensic recovery services. Check out this post to learn more.
Photo Credit: West Midlands Police via Flickr