Data is the new gold and businesses in the UAE, just like businesses operating in other parts of the world, have vast volumes of data that they use to improve, grow, and expand. However, this has also increased the risk of fraud and corruption. As a result, the need of the hour is strict regulations and enforcing these regulations to prevent cybercrimes, fraud, and corruption. However, before that can happen, it is essential that organizations centralize their data storage, which is not the case at the moment.
So, when critical issues arise, businesses have to collate and analyze data from multiple sources, including computers, smartphones, tablets, servers, and cloud storage. This is a mammoth task and most organizations do not have the resources or expertise to collect and analyze current and historical data which may be needed in case of disputes, whistleblower allegations, litigations, cyber breaches, and legal issues. That is when organizations require the services of experts, who are well-versed in electronic discovery (e-discovery) and computer forensics.
Understanding e-Discovery and Computer Forensics
e-Discovery focuses on collecting active data and metadata from hard drives as well as other digital storage media. Active data refers to e-calendars, emails, databases, and word processing files while metadata is the information related to the documents’ authors, time of creation, source as well as history.
Usually, e-Discovery is limited in scope and does not delve deep into the data, and focuses on data that is readily available and retrievable. On the other hand, when your business requires deeper discovery, you will need digital forensics. Computer forensics not only looks at readily available data but also checks hidden folders and unallocated disk space to get access to data. This data is not easily accessible and that is when a digital forensic examination is required.
Types of Data Collected by Digital and Computer Forensics
Computer forensics looks to retrieve accessible and inaccessible data like:
- Automatically Stored Data: Data is often automatically stored on computers. So, even if a file is purged or removed from the server, computer forensics can still find a copy on the computer’s hard drive.
- Deleted Files: When you delete a file, it is not really deleted; you cannot see it. The file remains on the hard drive until it is wiped out or overwritten.
- Ghost Data: Sometimes, data is not readily available, such as file fragments. This residual data is recoverable using the right technique and expertise.
- Wiping Software: Many times, culprits may end up using a wiping software, believing that they have purged the data and hidden their crimes. However, computer forensic experts use special software to detect this.
The Roles of e-Discovery and Computer Forensics
e-Discovery does not investigate or analyze data. It merely functions to gather and organize data. On the other hand, when it comes to hidden or deleted data, e-Discovery cannot find. That is when cyber forensics comes into play. It delves into hidden depths to find files and data that otherwise are not visible and organizations are unaware that they exist.
Both e-Discovery and computer forensics work in tandem, where one is responsible for collating the data that is easily accessible while the other is responsible for conducting a deep search to find data that is not visible or accessible. Forensics also restores lost, deleted, and inaccessible data.
Choosing the Right Service Provider
Both e-Discovery and computer forensics are highly technical and require lots of expertise. So, make sure you find the right service provider, who is experienced in both disciplines, who can come to your rescue when you need it the most. That will minimize your stress and bring clarity and assurance when your business faces a crisis.