Computer Forensics & Cyber Crime Investigations

Computer forensics pertains to legal evidence found in computers and digital storage media. The goal of computer forensics is to explain the current state of a digital artifact; such as a computer system, storage medium, electronic documents. The scope of a forensic analysis can vary from simple information retrieval to reconstructing a series of events.

Special measures are required for forensic investigations where results might be used in a court of law. One of the most important measures is to assure that the evidence has been accurately collected and that there is a clear chain of custody from the scene of the crime to the investigator.

All digital evidence must be analyzed to determine the type of information that is stored upon it. For this purpose, specialty tools are used that can display information in a format useful to investigators. In many investigations, numerous tools are used to analyze specific portions of information.

Typical forensic analysis includes a manual review of material on the media, reviewing the Windows registry for suspect information, discovering and cracking passwords, keyword searches for topics related to the crime, and extracting e-mail and pictures for review.

Once the analysis is complete, a report is generated. This report may be a written report, oral testimony, or some combination of the two.

Cyber crime refers to any crime that involves a computer and network, where the computers may or may not have played an instrumental part in the commission of a crime. Issues surrounding this type of crime have become high-profile, particularly those surrounding hacking, copyright infringement, and child pornography. There are also problems of privacy when confidential information is lost or intercepted, lawfully or otherwise.

Computer crime encompasses a broad range of potentially illegal activities. Generally, however, it may be divided into one of two types of categories: crimes that target computer networks or devices directly; and crimes facilitated by computer networks or devices, the primary target of which is independent of the computer network or device.

Computer fraud is any dishonest misrepresentation of fact intended to let another to do or refrain from doing something which causes loss.

The content of websites and other electronic communications may be distasteful, obscene or offensive for a variety of reasons. In some instances these communications may be illegal.

Whereas content may be offensive in a non-specific way, harassment directs obscenities and derogatory comments at specific individuals focusing for example on gender, race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation. This often occurs in chat rooms, through newsgroups, and by sending hate e-mail to interested parties.

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