Computer Forensic Investigation Process: From Incident Detection to Legal Action

Understanding the process of computer forensic investigation necessitates delving into the history of cyber crime, which has experienced a monumental growth parallel to the advancement of digital technology. Investigations into computer-related incidents have become increasingly crucial in maintaining security and law enforcement in the digital era. This blog post will walk you through the detailed process, from incident detection to legal action, providing an overarching view of the technical intricacies involved.


Incident detection is the first step in the labyrinthine process of computer forensic investigation. Often, the initial sign of a cyber incident comes in the form of behavioral abnormalities in system performance or unusual network traffic patterns. Alert systems are sometimes employed to detect discrepancies in patterns and to issue warnings in real time. Here, the history of cyber crime teaches us that such early warning systems play a pivotal role in mitigating the damage inflicted by cyber criminals.

Detection and Initial Analysis

Once an incident is detected, the next step involves the initial analysis. This phase attempts to understand the nature and scope of the incident. Depending upon the severity and complexity of the incident, this stage would involve the use of intrusion detection systems (IDS), log analysis, memory analysis or disk imaging tools. A careful comparative study of the current system to the baseline system measurements can reveal unusual activity.

Strategy Formulation

The next step in the process is based on findings from the detection and initial analysis. A forensic strategy is formulated, keeping in mind the type of incident, feasibility of the existing legal framework, and available resources. Additionally, strategies must consider the crucial variable in the history of cyber crime: the rapidly evolving techniques employed by cyber criminals.

Data Collection

Forensic data collection is one of the most critical components of the process. The intent here is to collect all potentially relevant data for analysis without altering or damaging the original data. This phase would involve the use of data acquisition tools and techniques such as live data forensics, disk imaging, network forensics, and physical artifacts collection. It's important this step adheres to a standardized protocol to ensure the integrity of the collected data.

Forensic Data Analysis

Data analysis is where the evidence begins to take shape. The collected data is scoured minutely to identify signs of intrusion, malicious activities, or unauthorized accesses. Specialized tools and techniques, such as file carving, network traffic analysis, and malware reverse engineering, may be adopted in this phase.

Legal Considerations

Many cyber incidents translate into legal scenarios and discovering digital evidence is just a part of the battle. The preservation and presentation of digital evidence in court is a complex task that requires meticulous attention to legal procedures. The history of cyber crime has seen tremendous debates and developments regarding the admissibility and preservation of digital evidence.

In Conclusion

The process of computer forensic investigation is a tapestry interwoven with technical acuity and astute strategy formulation. It also fosters the learning from the history of cyber crime. From incident detection to legal action, every phase relies tremendously on precision, engagement, and systematic approach. As digital technology continues to evolve, so too will the need for comprehensive forensic investigation methods that can withstand and surpass the ingenious methods of cyber criminals. It’s therefore crucial that the digital forensic community remains vigilant and innovative in the face of this continually evolving threat landscape.