Tracking the Cybercriminal with Digital Forensics
Digital forensics, a branch of forensic science that uses technology for detecting cybercrimes, has been receiving a lot of attention lately. This is because of the increasing instances of cybercrimes globally. Data reveals that in the past year, businesses suffered a loss of $1,797,945 per minute due to cybercrime! These are figures that cannot be taken lightly.
With the advancements in technology, there has been a thrust for businesses across the globe to shift to a digital domain. This shift has, unfortunately, led to an increase in cybercrime in the digital realm. Cybercrimes may be cyber threats that are malicious acts to damage or steal digital data. Cyber threats may be in the form of computer viruses, data breaches, Denial of Service (DoS) attacks, and more. A successful cyber threat is a cyber-attack. A cyber-attack aims to gain unauthorised access, damage, disrupt, or steal an information technology asset, disrupt a computer network, or damage intellectual property. Data on cybercrimes reveals that cyber criminals can penetrate 93% of company networks. Therefore, digital forensics has become an essential technology.
Digital forensics technology is used to track the “digital fingerprint” left behind after the occurrence of cybercrime. Digital forensics entails the identification, preservation, analysis, and documentation of digital evidence that can be presented in a court trial. The data is extracted from digital devices such as computers, mobiles, hard disks, etc., by digital forensic investigators.
Digital forensic investigators have the expertise to investigate encrypted data using highly specialised software and tools. Cyber investigation techniques include recovery of deleted files, cracking passwords, and finding the source of a security breach.
Some types of criminal activity that can be investigated using digital forensics include:
- Cyber attacks
- Industrial espionage
- Data security breach
- Financial fraud
- Identity fraud
- And a host of other criminal activities.
Digital Forensics Investigators analyse threats by collecting evidence such as:
- Time spent by an individual on a webpage.
- The time when they were actively using the internet.
- Type of device used.
These are the digital fingerprints that enable the digital investigator to retrieve critical data for solving the case.
Digital Forensics has gained importance in the following areas:
Cloud computing offers a myriad of benefits and has been adopted widely. Most businesses use cloud computing services extensively. Several documents, products and services pass through the cloud all the time. Cloud computing is now an integral part of operations in both private and government sector organisations. One of the main drawbacks of cloud computing is its security. Cybercrimes in the cloud environment are increasing at a rapid rate. This has led to the development of cloud forensics. This branch of digital forensics technology investigates cybercrimes in a cloud-based environment.
Digital data is processed, and cloud attacks are reconstructed, investigated, and analysed.
Social Media Forensics
In recent years, social media platforms have become a hub for socialisation. Users create accounts, share a lot of information, and have interactions with other users through these sites. Each such interaction involves exchange of digital data. This provides hackers with a great opportunity to exploit the accounts of users.
Popular social media applications like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter are vulnerable to cyber threats and malware. Cyber-attacks on social media can occur within the network or outside the network.
Social media forensics investigates cybercrime on social media channels. Social media posts are analysed as evidence in social media forensics. Digital footprints on social media platforms reveal information that points to offenders. Advances in digital forensic technology have increased the efficiency of social media forensics.
The Internet of things is a rapidly growing technology because of the benefits it offers. Some of the common IoT devices are smartphones, tablets, laptops, PCs, and a host of other embedded devices. IoT facilitates sharing of data across multiple platforms, communication via the internet APIs or directly. IoT devices can also be controlled by cloud servers. These aspects of IoT systems make them vulnerable to cyberattacks like mass monitoring, ransomware, Denial of Service (DoS), and more. IoT systems also contain large volumes of data making them vulnerable to a data breach.
Digital forensics investigators use data from IoT systems in conjunction with digital forensics techniques to track and even prevent cyber-attacks in the IoT environment.
Digital forensics has advanced from addressing minor computer crimes to investigating international criminal cases that affect the world. Increased use of embedded technologies, social media, cloud, etc., coupled with stringent government regulations, and increased instances of cybercrimes are prime movers for the rising demand for digital forensics software. This is the reason why The Global Digital Forensics Market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.97% from 2021 to 2026.
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