When you shred and dispose of a hand-written document, it will eventually be recycled or composted with no evidence left behind. When you delete a file on your computer, however, numerous traces of its existence remain. Information or sensitive data that was previously hidden, deleted, or corrupted can usually be retrieved, analyzed, and preserved. This practice, known as data or digital forensics, is a growing, evolving field now considered routine practice for numerous types of legal matters. In addition, the tools used for data forensicsalso apply to general data recovery in case of computer or hard drive failure.
How Data Can Be Manipulated
There are essentially two types of collected data, persistent and volatile. Persistent data is permanently stored, such as on a hard drive. This is much easier to locate than volatile data, which is hidden, transient, or otherwise difficult to recover.
Every time you open a computer file, you alter its data and add to its recorded history. When it comes to court cases, detectives quickly learned that computer evidence was easy to alter, corrupt, or destroy, accidentally or otherwise. Specialized tools and methodologies to search data had to be subsequently developed. Upon seizing a computer or hard drive, data forensics expertsimmediately duplicate and lock down a version of the data. With that in hand, the original data cannot be accidentally manipulated while being searched for evidence.
What Data Recovery Can Reveal
Data forensics can be used for both tracking and recovery, from corporate misconduct and file corruption to mobile device location tracking. Computer specialists, digging for digital evidence for attorneys or the law, can analyze temporary Internet files and determine when files were created, modified, or deleted. In addition, digital forensics can reveal if and when files were emailed, messaged, or even copied to a CD or portable flash drive. Long-lost email exchanges and hidden folders alike areconveyed to the surface with the right techniques and tools.
With this wealth of available knowledge and evidence, companies can see how computer-related activates may have affected their operations.Issues that can be revealed include fraud, bribery, discrimination, and theft of documents. If someone attempted to hide, alter, or destroy a file, you can find out when, where, and how it was done.
In addition to criminal investigations, data recovery is used to help settle civil disputes, lawsuits, human resources complaints, and more. Typically, specific warrants are required to search a suspect’s computer, but this practice is becoming more common and useful in courts worldwide, including a large number of high-profile cases.
Tools and Methodologies
Data speaks volumes by itself, but data forensics digs even deeper and expands further. Data recovery of any sort requires a certain set of tools and skills. The methodologies used include advanced searches, reverse engineering, decryption, analysis,and decoding.
The field of computer forensics in continually evolving, increasing our ability to retrieve data that has been hidden or even damaged. This comes in handy for data recovery outside the courtroom, too, as the tools used in data forensics make it possible to recover data lost to the malfunction of or mechanical problems in hardware, software, and hard drives. For these cases, consider using a specialized company such as Inter-Data Recovery Services, which will use technical expertise and experience to locate, decipher, and restore data.