What Is Digital Forensics? | Definition | History | Process | Types and Challenges

What is Digital Forensics?

Digital Forensics is defined as the process that can be used by the court of law to preserve, identify, extract and document computer evidence. It is a science of digital media evidence such as a computer, mobile phone, server, or network. This provides the best techniques and tools for the forensic team to investigate complex digital crimes.

Digital Forensics assists the forensic team in examining, reviewing, identifying and storing the digital evidence on different types of electronic devices.

In this digital forensic tutorial, you will learn:
  1. What is Digital Forensics?
  2. History of Digital forensics
  3. Objectives of computer forensics
  4. Process of Digital forensics
  5. Types of Digital Forensics
  6. Challenges faced by Digital Forensics
  7. Example Uses of Digital Forensics
  8. Advantages of Digital forensics
  9. Disadvantages of Digital Forensics
  10. History of Digital forensics

Here, are important landmarks from the history of Digital Forensics: 

Hans Gross (1847–1915): first use of scientific study to conduct criminal investigations
FBI (1932): create a forensic laboratory for all law enforcement officials and other agencies in the U.S. 

The Florida Computer Crime Act recorded the first computer crime in 1978.
Francis Galton (1982–1911): first recorded fingerprint analysis • Computer Forensics was used in academic literature in 1992. 
The International Computer Evidence Organization (IOCE) was established in 1995. 

• The First Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory of the FBI was founded in 2000.
• In 2002, the Electronic Evidence Scientific Working Assembly (SWGDE) published the first book on digital forensics entitled "Best Practices for Computer Forensics."
• Digital investigation issues were recognized by Simson Garfinkel in 2010.
Objectives of computer forensics

Here are the essential objectives of using Computer forensics: 

It helps to recover, analyze and preserve computers and related materials in such a way that it helps the investigative agency to present them in court as evidence.
It helps postulate the motive behind the main culprit's crime and identity.
Developing protocols in a suspected crime scene that will help ensure that the digital evidence obtained is not compromised. 

Data acquisition and duplication: recovery and validation of deleted files and partitions from digital media. 

• Helps you to quickly identify the evidence and also enables you to estimate the potential impact of malicious activity on the victim • Create a computer forensic information that provides a comprehensive investigation method report.
• Proof preservation by following the custody chain.
• Digital forensic process

Digital forensics entails the following steps:

  1. Identification
  2. Preservation
  3. Analysis
  4. Documentation
  5. Presentation
  6. Process of Digital Forensics
  7. Let’s study each in detail
  8. Identification
It's the forensic process's first step. The process of recognition includes mainly effects such as what evidence is present, where it is stored, and how it is stored – in what format. Personal computers, mobile phones, PDAs, etc. can be electronic storage media.


Data are isolated, secured and preserved at this stage. It includes preventing people from using the digital device to prevent the manipulation of digital evidence.


In this step, investigative agents are reconstructing data fragments and drawing conclusions based on found evidence. Nonetheless, multiple analysis iterations may be needed to support a particular theory of crime.


A record of all the visible data needs to be created in this process. This helps to reconstruct and study the crime scene. It involves proper criminal prospect documentation along with photography, sketching, and mapping of the crime scene. 


The process of summing up and explaining the conclusions is done in this last step. It should, however, be written in the terms of a layperson using abstract terminology. The specific details should be referenced in all abstract terms.

Types of Digital Forensics 

Three types of digital forensics are:

Disk Forensics:

This manages the retrieval of data from storage media by searching for active, changed or deleted files.

Network Forensics:

It's a digital forensics sub-branch. The purpose of collecting important information and legal evidence is to monitor and analyze computer network traffic.

Wireless Forensics:

It is a technical branch of the network. Wireless forensics ' main goal is to provide the resources needed to collect and analyze wireless network traffic data.

Database Forensics:

It is a branch of digital forensics related to database study and review and related metadata.

Malware Forensics:

This section deals with malicious code detection, researching their payload, malware, worms, etc.

Email Forensics

Deals with email retrieval and analysis, including deleted emails, calendars, and contacts.

Memory Forensics:

It deals with the raw collection of system memory data (system registers, cache, RAM) and then the carving of Raw dump data.

Mobile Phone Forensics:

This mainly deals with mobile device monitoring and analysis. It helps to get contacts from phone and SIM, call logs, incoming and outgoing SMS / MMS, audio, videos, etc.

Challenges faced by Digital Forensics

Here, are major challenges faced by the Digital Forensic:

• Increasing the use of PCs and Internet access
• Easy access to hacking tools
• Lack of physical evidence makes prosecution difficult.
• The large amount of Terabyte storage space that makes this research difficult.
• Any technological change requires the solution to be upgraded or changed.
Example Uses of Digital Forensics

In the present time, in the following types of cases, business organizations have used digital forensics:

  • Intellectual property theft
  • Corporate espionage
  • Job disputes
  • Fraud investigations
  • Inappropriate use of the Internet and email in the workplace
  • Insolvency inquiries • Insolvency investigations
  • Problems of regulatory compliance Advantages of Digital forensics

Here, are pros/benefits of Digital forensics

• To ensure computer system integrity.
• Provide evidence in court that may lead to the guilty party being punished.
• This helps companies retrieve important information when they have damaged their computer systems or networks.
• Cyber criminals are effectively tracked from anywhere in the world.
• Helps protect the money and valuable time of the organization.
• Allows the factual evidence to be collected, analyzed and interpreted, thereby justifying the cybercrime case in court.

Disadvantages of Digital Forensics

Here, are the most important cos/ drawbacks of using the Digital Forensic 

• Accepted digital proof in court. Nevertheless, it must be proven that there is no manipulation
• Processing and preservation of electronic records is an extremely expensive affair
• Authorized professionals must have thorough technical expertise
• Need to provide accurate and convincing evidence
• If the device used for digital forensics is not in compliance with established requirements, then the proof may be disapproved by the court.
• The investigating officer's lack of technical knowledge could not provide the desired result 


• Digital Forensics is the security, identification, drawing up and recording of digital evidence that can be used in the regulatory court

• Digital Forensics technique requires 1) Identification, 2) Presentation, 3) Analysis, 4) Recording and 5) Protection

• Different types of Digital Forensics include Disc Forensics, Network Forensics, Wireless Forensics, Server Forensics.

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