Computer Forensics Definition

If you are thinking about starting a career in computer forensics, you may be wondering what is computer forensics? What is the formal or technical computer forensics definition? The primary goal of computer forensics is to perform a structured investigation of digital evidence and prepare this evidence for presentation in the court. Professionals in this field learn how to trace various types of digital activity and play an important role in solving cases that involve cybercrimes, identity theft and other crimes related to computers. Investigators are trained to use a variety of techniques and forensic applications to examine digital evidence and encrypted files.

What Exactly is Computer Forensics?

The field of computer forensics has grown to become a science in itself and individuals interested in pursuing this career path must complete formal training at a college or university, and get their computer forensics certification. Computer forensics is also known as cyber forensics. It involves applying computer investigation and analysis techniques to solve a crime and provide evidence to support a case. Investigators often use proprietary forensic applications and software programs to examine computer hard drives, extract certain types of data from files and folders, and also to recover information from encrypted files. This digital information must be organized and documented into an official report form to be presented in a court of law.

Computer Forensics Defined

The computer forensics definition can be broken down into several technical aspects of the actual science of computer forensics. The general definition of computer forensics is the processes and investigative methods used to find digital evidence and prepare it for legal proceedings. The more in-depth definition includes the preservation of media and data, identification of computer-related evidence, extraction of the data and interpretation. Interpretation is perhaps the most important element of the computer forensics definition because this is where forensics experts must draw conclusions from a formal forensic analysis.

Throughout the process of data gathering and interpretation, the computer forensics specialist must document everything in a structured fashion. They must report exactly what types of investigations were performed and document all of the steps taken to retrieve various files, folders and data. The courts can then apply various types of methodology and testimonies in order to determine whether evidence presented can actually be used in the legal proceedings. This is why computer forensics specialists must learn about the different legal processes involved in an investigation and make sure that there is always a high level of integrity of evidence.

Why the Computer Forensics Definition Can Change

It's important to recognize that there are two main types of computer forensics investigations so the computer forensics definition can change. The first involves investigations where a computer or digital technologies were used to perform the crime (cybercrime). The second is when a computer is used as the target of a crime, such as when a hacker retrieves sensitive information or someone has their identity stolen online. In both of these situations, the computer forensics definition may change slightly because the investigator uses different techniques and methodologies to solve the crime.