Cyber forensics, now at crossroads, has traveled a long way over the past decade. Digital forensics has now taken the baton, driven by the growing significance of digital investigation and fostering demand for consulting services in the field of digital forensics. Surpassing the typical trench coat-clad investigation officers and the CSI-style gadgetry, forensics has now arrived at a point far beyond merely dusting for fingerprints.
Resolving complex corporate crimes requires tech-savvy sleuthing, and digital forensics does exactly that. It broadly covers identification, evaluation, examination, and peer review of computer or mobile device related artifacts. The coverage however continues to evolve with the emergence AI (Artificial Intelligence) and IoT (Internet of Things) enabled platforms, high security mobile devices, and other overarching trends in the technology world.
New-age forensics experts are clad in digital trench coats
With mushrooming cases of digital crimes such as illegal data transfer, company information misconduct, mishandling of sensitive organizational data by employee(s), and cyber attack, reliable digital forensics practices are repeatedly highlighting their significance. Businesses are rapidly pre-strategizing on having dedicated digital forensics experts to keep crime scenes at bay.
While infidelity cases are often resolved on the basis of available information in the form of emails, texts and social media tools, litigation experts encounter multiple challenges when it comes to examining cellphones or other mobile devices of suspects. This is where digital forensics steps in.
Widely used to uncover data breaches, including corporate data theft, illegal use of consumer data, or inter-organizational data transfer, digital forensics is lately playing a critical role in demystifying corporate crime cases.
IP misconduct & loss of data – more common use cases
Internal corporate policy violations, probably the most commonplace use case for digital forensics experts serving corporate world, typically involves IP (intellectual property) theft. High-profile IP misconduct or industrial espionage cases often stake millions of dollars, in compensation of the loss of revenue.
Fraud, sexual harassment, and even wrongful injury or death can be efficiency dealt with by digital forensics practices. Digital forensics software can also help extract lost data from malfunctioning storage devices.
Mobile devices leading the way to future of digital forensics
Compared to network forensics, computer forensics, and database forensics among others, mobile device forensics is showing highly attractive opportunities in recent years. Globally, mobile device forensics represents a thriving landscape likely to build a million dollar market within the next two years.
While computer forensics has been leading the pack till a couple of years ago, mobile usage has seen a spectacular surge across the world recently, positioning mobile device forensics as the most preferred choice among digital forensics experts.
Projected for a robust double-digit yearly growth in revenue, mobile device forensics can extract a significant information trove in cases of distracted driving. A seasoned mobile forensics expert can easily extract information about the driver’s actions at exact time of an accident. Mobile phones also provide a wealth of data when it comes to conversation histories and physical geo-location data.
Emergence of cybercriminals demanding more of digital forensics
Digital forensics software and services that are used in cases of cybercrime currently account for just about $430 million. Currently, digital forensics are applicable for information security violations and corporate litigations related cases. However, in the light of increased use of personal mobile devices, social media, and advanced technology tools for extraction, storage, and transfer of data, cybercrime is likely to generate substantial demand in the years to come.
Healthcare and banking & finance organizations are generally more vulnerable to cyber attacks leading to customer information breaches. The multi-layered, complex, and most importantly, borderless economy of cybercrime has already reached $1.5 trillion in 2018, and no one at the receiving end can afford to remain complacent about security.
Data breach incident management, SIEM (security information and event management), and fraud detection are also creating considerable scope for digital forensics software and services.
The road ahead is seemingly onerous
Although tight coupling of physical and technology worlds has enabled possibilities such as resolving criminal cases with the help of digitalization, it also carries a set of potential threats that are always associated with its usage.
While the most common recent cyber attacks include those on DDoS (distributed denial of services using bot-nets), smart vehicles, and VoIP devices, they clearly point to the scope of development for digital forensics over the course of coming years.
According to industry veterans, it remains a major challenge for digital forensics specialists to invest in the development of novel techniques and tools that can address the demands of bulk data analysis, and the reporting of potential digital clues that may direct further investigation.
Moreover, they emphasize critical attention to the human’s ever-evolving critical thinking ability that certainly will remain an indubitable part of AI systems used in digital forensics, which is still in its nascent stage.