QuickStudy: Computer forensics
Listen to the Computerworld TechCast: Computer Forensics.The television series CSI has given millions of viewers an appreciation of the role and importance of physical evidence in conducting criminal investigations. Each week, we see the confluence of fingerprints, DNA tests, autopsies, microscopic examinations and ballistic evidence used to solve a murder or explain the circumstances surrounding an unusual death. The drama lies less in the events that are portrayed than in the thinking that lies behind the collection, preservation and interpretation of the evidence needed to solve the case and support prosecution.
There are two categories of computer crime: criminal activity that involves using a computer to commit a crime, and criminal activity that has a computer as a target, such as a network intrusion or a denial-of-service attack. The same means of gathering evidence are used to solve both types of crimes. And the same kinds of skills used by the lawbreakers are needed to track them down.
It Takes an Expert
Computer forensics is not a task to be undertaken lightly by just any IT worker. Instead, it calls for specialized skills and careful, documented procedures. A forensics expert knows what signs to look for and can identify additional information sources for relevant evidence, including earlier versions of data files or differently formatted versions of data used by other applications.
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