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What Is Cyber Forensics? - Tools, Types, and Techniques

What Is Cyber Forensics? - Tools, Types, and Techniques
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What is Cyber Forensics?

Cyber forensics is the science of collecting, inspecting, interpreting, reporting, and presenting computer-related electronic evidence. Evidence can be found on the hard drive or in deleted files.

It is the process of examining, acquiring, and analyzing data from a system or device so that it can be transcribed into physical documentation and presented in court.

During the inspection, it is critical to create a digital or soft copy of the system’s special storage cell. The purpose of carrying out a detailed cyber forensics investigation is to determine who is to blame for a security breach. The entire inquiry is carried out on the software copy while ensuring that the system is not affected.

In the technological age, cyber forensics is an inevitable factor that is incredibly important.

How are cybersecurity and digital forensics related?

Cybersecurity aims to reduce the risk of cyber-attacks and protect against unauthorized exploitation of systems, networks, and technologies. While digital forensics focuses on the recovery and investigation of artifacts found on a digital device.

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Cyber Forensics Scope

As everything becomes digitalized, the scope of cyber forensics expands. It assists us in combating hostile actions by identifying underlying perpetrators. The evidence gathered during inquiries aids cybersecurity specialists in locating the hackers and crackers.

The role of cyber forensic experts is becoming much more crucial nowadays due to the increase in cybercrime. According to NCRB, cybercrime has doubled from 2016 to 2018, and it is predicted to increase as much as four times than the present day. This shows the importance of law enforcement in solving cybercrime and cyber experts facing various cyber forensics challenges.

Cyber forensics enables specialists to remotely examine any crime scene by reviewing the browsing history, email records, or digital trace.

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Process Involved in Cyber Forensics

Steps in Cyber forensics

Cyber forensics takes a systematic interpretation, sorting it out concisely.

Obtaining a digital copy of the under inspection system

This method entails producing a copy of the system’s data to avoid harm from being done to the actual system, which might lead to file confusion with the files already present on the computer. Cloning a hard disc entails replicating the hard drive’s files and folders. The duplicate is present on another disc by copying every small piece of data for analysis.

Authenticating and confirming the replica

After copying the files, experts verify that the copied data is consistent and exactly as it exists in the real system. 

Determining that the copied data is forensically acceptable

It is possible to change the format of the data while duplicating it from a device, resulting in discrepancies in the operating systems of the investigators and the one from which the data was copied. To avoid this, detectives ensure that the structure stays constant and that the data is forensically acceptable and is written on the hard disk drive in a format that is adequately used in the computer.

Recovering deleted files

Criminals think of innovative ways of deleting the scene and often remove some data that could indicate their misconduct; it is the work of the investigators to recover and reconstruct deleted files with state-of-the-art software.

Forensics specialists can recover files erased by the user from a computer; the files are not permanently wiped from the computer, and forensics specialists can recover them.

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Finding the necessary data with keywords

Researchers use specific high-speed tools to get appropriate information by employing buzzwords in the instance document.

The OS perceives vacant space in the hard disc as room for storing new files and directories; however, temporary files and documents that were erased years ago will be stored there until new data is entered. Forensics specialists look for these files using this free space.

Forensics specialists utilize tools that can access and produce pertinent information throughout all data for phrases.

Establishing a technical report

The last phase will be to produce a technical report that is relevant and easily understood regardless of the background of the individual. The result of this report is to state clearly the crime, possible culprits, and innocent individuals.

The technical report must be straightforward for everyone to grasp, irrespective of their background. It should focus mostly on who the culprit is and what techniques they used to commit the crime and how.

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Types of Computer Forensics

  1. Disk Forensics:
    • Disk forensics involves the examination of physical or logical storage media such as hard drives, solid-state drives, and removable storage devices.
    • Investigators analyze these storage media to recover deleted files, discover hidden data, and gather evidence related to digital crimes.
  2. Network Forensics:
    • Network forensics focuses on monitoring and analyzing network traffic and log data to investigate security incidents.
    • It helps in identifying the source of cyberattacks, tracking communication between devices, and understanding the extent of network breaches.
  3. Memory Forensics:
    • Memory forensics deals with the analysis of a computer’s volatile memory (RAM) to uncover information about running processes, network connections, and malicious activities.
    • It is particularly useful in identifying live cyber threats and rootkits.
  4. Mobile Device Forensics:
    • Mobile device forensics involves the examination of smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices to retrieve data, messages, call logs, and application usage history.
    • Investigators use specialized tools to access locked or encrypted mobile devices.
  5. Database Forensics:
    • Database forensics focuses on investigating database systems to identify unauthorized access, data breaches, or data manipulation.
    • Investigators analyze database logs and data structures to uncover evidence of wrongdoing.
  6. Cloud Forensics:
    • Cloud forensics deals with the investigation of cloud-based services and data stored in the cloud.
    • It includes examining cloud logs, access controls, and metadata to trace activities and assess security incidents.
  7. Malware Forensics:
    • Malware forensics involves the analysis of malicious software (malware) to understand its behavior, origins, and impact on systems.
    • Investigators study malware code and behavior to determine the scope of an attack.
  8. Email Forensics:
    • Email forensics focuses on the investigation of email communications to gather evidence for legal proceedings.
    • It includes tracking email senders, receivers, timestamps, and content.
  9. Live Forensics:
    • Live forensics involves analyzing a running computer system to identify ongoing malicious activities.
    • Investigators use techniques to preserve system state and extract volatile data without interrupting system operation.
  10. Incident Response Forensics:
    • Incident response forensics is conducted as part of a larger incident response process.
    • It includes collecting and preserving digital evidence to understand the nature of a security incident and support remediation efforts.

These types of computer forensics play essential roles in investigating cybercrimes, ensuring digital evidence integrity, and strengthening cybersecurity measures in both law enforcement and corporate environments. Each type focuses on a specific aspect of digital investigation, contributing to a comprehensive approach in combating cyber threats.

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Techniques of Cyber Forensics

Let’s discuss the techniques of Cyber Forensics in-depth

  1. Evidence Collection: Cyber forensics experts collect digital evidence from various sources, including computers, servers, mobile devices, and network logs. The process involves preserving the integrity of the evidence to maintain its admissibility in court.
  2. Data Recovery: Deleted or damaged data can often be recovered using specialized tools and techniques. This is crucial for reconstructing events and identifying the perpetrators.
  3. Network Analysis: Analyzing network traffic and logs helps in tracing the origin of cyberattacks, understanding attack patterns, and identifying vulnerabilities.
  4. Malware Analysis: Cyber forensics professionals dissect malware to understand its behavior, propagation methods, and impact on systems. This aids in developing countermeasures and attributing attacks.
  5. Memory Analysis: Examining the volatile memory (RAM) of a compromised system can reveal ongoing malicious activities, such as running processes and network connections.

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Skills Required for a Cyber Forensic Investigator

Technical Aptitude

Cybersecurity is a technology-driven field; you will probably be responsible for debugging, regularly updating the ISS, and offering protection systems in real-time. To conduct the normal operations of cybersecurity professionals, being technologically competent is necessary.

Beware of details

To preserve the vital elements of an organization and to avoid risks, you need to be very alert and detailed. You would, most likely, be required to conduct a thorough assessment of your infrastructure, swiftly spot issues, and develop ways to solve them in actual environments.

Analytical ability

A major part of being a cyber forensics specialist is the capability to analyze and build a clear comprehension of data.

Strong communication skills

A crime scene investigator must be able, as part of a case, to examine and explain technical facts to others in depth.

Cyber Forensics and Information Security

Cyber ForensicsInformation Security
Cyber forensics is used to collect and evaluate proofs of a specific computing device in an inquiry, and scanning that is acceptable for court filings Information security is the protection of information assets to ensure integrity and availability and to prevent unauthorized access, disclosure, interruption, amendment, or annihilation
Eg.: Defends hacking intrusionEg.: Computer system intrusion

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Learn more about Information Security

Cyber Forensics Tools

Let us take a look at some cyber forensics investigation tools:

Data capture tools

Data capture tools offer computerized assistance, among other things, for forensic testing, data collection, reporting, query resolution, randomization, and authentication.

File viewers

A file viewer is a software that correctly displays the data recorded in a file. In contrast to an editor, only the content of a file is visualized by the file viewer.

File analysis tools

Software for file analysis are developed to allow cyber experts to comprehend the file structure of an organization. These technologies index, search, monitor, and evaluate critical file data.

Internet analysis tools

Google Analytics is one of the best, free tool that any website owner can use to track and analyze data about web traffic.

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Cyber Forensic Career Path

Cyber Forensics as a Career

Cyberattacks are growing regularly, and to address them, cyber forensics is required. Cyberterrorism not only threatens an organization but also harms the lives of people through the online promotion of narcotics, militancy, etc. Therefore, it is crucial that cybercrimes are dealt with. There are ample job opportunities in the field of cybersecurity in India as well as around the globe.

According to PayScale, salaries in the field of cyber forensics in India range from INR four lakh per annum to INR eight lakh per annum.

Top 6 Cyber Security Jobs in 2021

(Source: naukri.com)

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Conclusion

The science of collecting, inspecting, interpreting, reporting, and presenting computer-related electronic evidence is known as cyber forensics. It assists us in combating hostile actions by identifying the underlying perpetrators. Cyberattacks are ever-growing, and cyber forensics is required to address such activities.

We hope that this blog has helped you in getting an overview of this domain.

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