Our electronic devices, from laptop computers to our smartphones, contain a plethora of information about our lives and personal matters. As such, electronic devices and digital forensics have had an increasing role in court cases. When it comes to obtaining information and digital forensics from electronic devices, it is incredibly important that the device and the data contained on it are not manipulated or altered in any way. Otherwise, the data could be deemed inadmissible in court. Because this field of forensics is relatively new, being able to properly seize and securely store digital devices is a skill that legal practices are still learning.
The following tips will help attorneys and legal staff take the right measures to ensure an electronic device is not altered in any way before a digital forensics examiner has a chance to look at said device.
One of the most important aspects of digital device seizure is to keep track of the device’s movement with documentation. Be sure to note who you are receiving the device from, the time and date when the device was received, and the chain of access to the device. Having documentation of the chain-of-custody is extremely important in these cases.
When you receive the device, do not turn it on and look through the files for immediate answers. Doing so could manipulate data and ruin the credibility of any potential evidence on the device. The best thing to do is leave the device untouched until it is in a digital forensics experts hands. Once the device is in your custody, secure it safely in a locked area with limited access. These steps apply to all computers, tablets, smartphones, and other electronic and mobile devices.
When dealing with computers specifically, the first thing to do upon seizure is to ask the client about the computer’s system. Make sure you are aware of any passwords, information about the hard drive, such as if it is encrypted, how many people have access to the computer, and any other relevant information. Remember not to look through the computer or its file system, as data, settings, and files are altered with every use.
Like with computers, it is important when seizing a mobile device to find out from the client any passwords associated and also not to manipulate the device and its data through examination. However, there are a few more steps to consider when dealing with a mobile device or cell phone. Upon acquiring the device, make sure it is on airplane mode and any network connections, such as wi-fi or Bluetooth, are disconnected. Doing so may cause some change in the device’s data, but will also prevent further destruction of data while remaining an acceptable piece of evidence.
Following these steps is the best possible way to ensure that you obtain admissible, helpful evidence through electronic devices, and will also help the digital forensics expert to work more quickly and efficiently. If you have more questions or are looking for a digital forensics expert to help your client, contact Liberty Business Associates today.