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Computer Forensics

We define computer forensics as the art and science of applying computer science to aid the legal process. That’s right, it is both an art and a science. Although plenty of science is attributable to computer forensics, most successful investigators possess a nose for investigations and a skill for solving puzzles, which is where the art comes in.

This subtle distinction is highlighted to encourage investigators to think outside all the structure provided in the forthcoming methodologies. That is not to say readers shouldn’t follow the presented methodologies, but they should strive to use individual thought when applying methodologies, check sheets, and recommendations provided.

With such a broad definition of the subject, our work is cut out for us. What may prove more helpful than defining the term is identifying the primary goals in computer forensics. These goals are to collect, preserve, filter, and present computer system artifacts of potential evidentiary value.

Computer forensics for some time was considered more of a task than a profession Most practitioners of computer forensics were people from varied backgrounds attempting to collect digital artifacts in support of a criminal or civil legal matter.

Today computer forensics can be considered an emerging but true profession, or more accurately, a metaprofession comprising the skill sets of several professions and subspecialties such as law enforcement, information technology, and the legal services field.

For some time, computer forensics has been approached slightly differently when supporting criminal versus civil proceedings. The earliest computer forensics support for civil matters was usually focused only on recovering e-mail or financial data whereas criminal investigations took a more in-depth approach to identification, collection, and analysis.

As the profession becomes more formalized, the distinction in methodologies used between civil, criminal, and corporate investigations is becoming less differentiated.

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