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5 Reasons Why You Need a Digital Forensic Examiner

Lists are all over these blogs, aren’t they?  But I bet you haven’t seen the top 5 reasons you need to hire a digital forensic examiner!  Not to be outdone, we’ll try to keep it to only five:

1) Data is everywhere

Think about all the digital devices you own and use.  Chances are, as this graphic shows, you probably use your handheld portable device(s) in the morning, transition to laptop/desktop computer(s) during work hours, then go back to mobile with heavy use of tablets during the evening hours (because you and your partner don’t want to watch the same TV shows).

This graphic doesn’t even take into account the internet of things (IOT) and cars with constant connectivity and GPS.  So the bottom line is, virtually everything you do during the day will involve a digital device on some level and leave a digital footprint.  That data is stored on those devices and if you’re involved in some sort of dispute, accident, encounter, etc. that may lead to legal action down the road, you’re going to want a trained digital forensic expert to acquire, analyze and report that data for you.

2) Data breaches affect everyone

In the past year or so, we’ve seen dozens of high-profile data breaches occur in the private commercial and government sectors.  Sony, Target, eBay & Anthem, just to name a few.  And no one has been immune from the spoliation of this data, even the rich & famous (i.e., Ben Affleck & Amy Pascal).  But for everyday consumers like us, it means that our personal information could be shared with unsavory types, so whether you’re hiring a digital forensic examiner yourself or your bank is hiring one to help find out what happened and by whom, it does affect you

3) Chances are, you’ll be involved in litigation at some point

It’s a fact that the U.S. houses roughly 50% of the world’s attorneys and attorneys make money by handling legal matters.  Not all legal matters are contested, but when they are, you want the data to show the truth.  And if you believe #1 (data is everywhere), the likelihood that you will not only be involved in some sort of contested litigation, but that that litigation will likely involve retrieving & reporting data that is pertinent to your case in a verifiable, forensically sound & virtually airtight manner is very real.  From divorces to child custody to distracted driving personal injury to criminal cases, the ubiquitous nature of the devices we carry and the data (i.e., evidence) they store cannot be denied.

4) Your IT guy probably doesn’t know squat about Digital Forensics

Information Technology (IT) is a huge field.  It encompasses everyone from help desk agents to information security officers and everyone in between.  Generally, when we think about IT, we think of the computer geek; the guy we call when we can’t access our email, when the computer “broke”, when our company-owned phone is acting funny or some other every day run-of-the-mill problem.  They’re good at that stuff and the information security guys are good at setting up networks and systems to prevent data breaches, but generally none of them are trained adequately to secure digital evidence, forensically acquire that evidence, analyze the evidence or testify about the evidence and the procedures they took.  These skills require special training and experience.  Do IT folks have access to it?  Yes.  Do most of them take this training? No.  Call a professional.

5) The Police can’t do it all

Cybercrime & electronically-facilitated crime is no doubt on the rise.  When we get calls from potential clients stating they’ve been hacked, we refer them to the police because computer trespass and theft of personal information is a crime, but most of the time, they call back a couple weeks later for our help.  The police, especially local police, don’t have the resources to investigate, analyze data and report as to what may have happened.  And hacking is just one example.  In a day & age when everyone carries a micro-computer with GPS, a microphone, camera and telephone in their pocket, which tracks their moves, the value of the evidence that those devices store cannot be understated.  Unfortunately, along with being involved in litigation, you’ll probably also be the victim of a crime at some point.  If the police don’t have the resources to adequately investigate the incident, it may be worth it to call someone who does!

So there’s our list.  If nothing else, we hope this serves to educate just some of the reasons why you may need a digital forensic examiner on speed-dial.  Is a digital forensic examiner someone you need every day?  No.  But much like your car mechanic, your exterminator and your lawyer, you sure want to know how to contact a good one when the time comes!

Did we mention our contact information is below?

Author:
Patrick J. Siewert, SCERS, BCERT, LCE
Principal Consultant
Professional Digital Forensic Consulting, LLC
Based in Richmond, Virginia

Available Globally
About the Author:
Patrick Siewert is the Principal Consultant of Pro Digital Forensic Consulting, based in Richmond, Virginia.  In 15 years of law enforcement, he investigated hundreds of high-tech crimes, incorporating digital forensics into the investigations, and was responsible for investigating some of the highest jury and plea bargain child exploitation cases in Virginia court history.  A graduate of both SCERS and BCERT (among others), Siewert continues to hone his digital forensic expertise in the private sector while growing his consulting business marketed toward litigators, professional investigators and corporations.

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