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Digital Evidence: A Brief Guide

Are you a fan of Sherlock Holmes, Bad Boys for life, or other detective movies that feature several intense crime scenes?

If yes, then the chances are that you know how crime scene investigations are carried out. First off, the crime scene is cordoned to preserve pieces of evidence.

Afterward, evidence is collected, and the investigation starts to determine and arrest those responsible for the act.

A typical crime scene consists of two major types of evidence; physical and digital evidence. Most physical evidence is obvious and easy to gather.

Digital evidence, on the other hand, is difficult to gather, and not everyone understands what this type of evidence entails. In light of this, we have highlighted a few things regarding digital evidence.

Let’s begin with the first:

What is Digital Evidence?

Digital evidence is the data derived or found on any electronic device like mobile phones, computers, smart TVs, emails, RAM system files, Phone calls (video, audio), etc. All electronic gadgets combined with IoT tech contain digital evidence which will come in handy for forensic investigations.

Forensic investigators collect, determine and conserve the evidence derived from digital sources to trail the culprit and present them to court for trial. Also, pieces of evidence gathered using a digital forensics tool often come in handy when verifying a timeline of events. In a nutshell, digital evidence makes crime-solving easier and faster.

Having understood what digital evidence is, let’s take a look at the types of digital evidence.

Types of Digital Evidence

As I said earlier, digital evidence is any data that is stored and derived from digital sources. This evidence can also be recovered from wireless networks and RAM. There are several types of digital evidence. Each type of evidence is retrieved, stored, and analyzed differently. Here are some common types of digital evidence:

  • Databases
  • ATM transaction history
  • GPS history
  • Computer backup files
  • Digital files (including text files, spreadsheets, PDFs, bookmarks, e-books, etc.)
  • Phone calls (both video and audio)
  • Emails
  • Media files (video, audio, photo)
  • Social media logins
  • Concealed and encoded data
  • RAM system files

Now that you have some insights into what digital evidence is, including some of the types of digital evidence that exist, what next? Next up, we’ll be looking at how digital evidence is gathered and analyzed.

How is Digital Evidence Gathered and Analyzed

Unlike physical evidence, which may include blood-stained clothes, a strand of hair, etc., digital evidence is gathered and analyzed by a unique methodology. Digital forensic experts determine the type of digital evidence then proceed to examine it using the appropriate method.

In the case of cybercrime, forensic experts always begin with containment then follow up the process by gathering and analyzing digital evidence. While working on digital evidence, forensic experts always ensure that they isolate evidence sources after acquiring the available electronic data.

Worthy of note is that forensic investigators must seclude and stash the digital data gotten from the evidence to ensure that it remains valid. Altered data or evidence is not allowed in a court of law. Next, at the appropriate time, evidence gathered is analyzed for vital information to solve the case.

Conclusion

Digital evidence is often present in most crime scenes. When gathered and analyzed with the help of forensic experts, they often produce clues and insights of what transpired at the scene.

With these clues, and a proper understanding of the event that took place at the crime scene, law enforcement agencies can apprehend the perpetrator.

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