The life and work of a professional cyber forensics officer can seem highly adventurous, but it is also an extremely arduous task to procure hard evidence from digital devices not always found in the best conditions.
If you want to know more about how cyber forensics specialists exploit data in the laboratory, this blog will give you a glimpse into the work behind analyzing digital evidence. Once this evidence has been delivered to the laboratory, a forensic analyst will follow the steps explained below to collect and study the available data.
- Protecting the device from contamination: It is simple to grasp cross-contamination while at the crime scene or a DNA lab. However, digital evidence on devices faces similar challenges that need to be mitigated by the officer. Before analyzing any digital evidence, they have to create a replica or work duplicate of the original storage device. While gathering information from a device, the replica is saved in a different type of media to make sure the original file is uncorrupted. Forensic analysts have to start with a “clean” storage media to avoid contamination mix-up of data from a different source.
- Segregate Wireless Devices: Mobile phones and wireless devices are examined in the isolation chamber initially based upon availability. This stops the device from connecting to external networks and maintains the sanctity of the evidence at hand. The wireless device can be linked with analysis software from inside the chamber. If the investigation unit lacks an isolation chamber, the agents generally put the device in a Faraday bag. They also put the phone on aeroplane mode to curb any network reception.
- Integrate a write-blocking tool: To stop any changes being made to the data on the suspect media or device, the analyst has to add a block on the working copy to keep the data read-only.
- Select extraction methods: Once a working replica of the device is created, the forensic analyst will choose a digital forensics tool for data extraction by retrieving all the intel available. These extractions are based on retrieving existing data on such devices as well as shared spaces, deleted files, hidden data, cache, third-party apps, and others.
- Submit device or original media for traditional evidence examination: Once the data has been retrieved, the suspect device is moved back to the evidence facility. There could be traces of DNA or fingerprint and additional evidence found on it. With the working copy, the forensic analyst can now work without worrying about tampering with trace evidence.
- Proceed with the investigation: The analyst will take the help of their digital forensics software to view the said data. This process is rather lengthy since it involves fine combing the device for anything related to the crime. Once the evidence is gathered, it is noted and submitted to be corroborated.
There you have it! The work of a digital forensics professional on an adventurous day looks like these phases. We hope you gained some deep insight and developed further interest in this profession by reading our blog!