The importance of understanding digital forensics in our increasingly technology-driven world cannot be overstated. In today’s environment, where digital data intertwines with almost every aspect of our lives, understanding digital forensics means gaining a lens through which we can view our interactions with technology.

For corporations and law firms, this knowledge is key in recognizing how digital evidence is utilized and interpreted in legal proceedings. Whether it’s corporate litigation, intellectual property disputes, or employee data theft investigations, digital forensics provides the tools and expertise necessary to unravel complex digital trails.

Defining Digital Forensics

What is digital forensics? A standard definition would be the practice associated with the identification, preservation, acquisition, examination, analysis, and reporting of digital evidence. The primary goal of this process is to preserve the data’s integrity in a manner that is legally admissible in a court of law.

Essentially, it’s a process where experts use specialized techniques to recover, authenticate, and analyze electronic data. This data can then be used to reconstruct events or actions that are under legal scrutiny in civil proceedings and corporate investigations.

Digital Forensics Protocol

Digital forensics experts are trained to handle the evidence carefully, adhering to strict protocols to maintain a documented chain of custody. The protocol often involves several structured steps, each crucial for ensuring the integrity and admissibility of digital evidence in legal or corporate settings. Here’s a breakdown of the typical digital forensics process:


The first step involves identifying potential sources of digital evidence relevant to the case or inquiry. This may involve pinpointing specific devices such as work computers, corporate smartphones, or network servers, as well as relevant cloud-based data sources like company emails, business databases, social media accounts, and cloud storage systems. The focus here is on gathering digital assets that might hold information related to the matter at hand.


Following the identification of potential evidence sources, the preservation step involves safeguarding the original state of the data. This is where the concept of a legal hold becomes pertinent, particularly in matters of civil litigation, criminal litigation, or corporate investigations.

Preservation includes securing the physical device in order to employ software measures to prevent any alteration, loss, or tampering of the data. Similar software measures are used to secure cloud data when a physical device is not in scope. The preservation  process  involves maintaining a documented chain of custody to ensure the data’s integrity from the point of device or account handoff to its eventual use in legal proceedings.

Acquisition / Collection

This step is about creating a digital copy of the data from the preserved sources. It involves using forensically sound methods to ensure the copy is a replica of the original data at the time of preservation. Tools such as write blockers and hashing techniques are used to prevent any modification to the source during this process.


During this phase, digital forensics experts use various tools and techniques to extract and examine the relevant data from the acquired copies. Among these techniques is keyword searching, which is employed to efficiently locate specific information within the data.

This step may also involve recovering deleted files, cracking passwords, or analyzing file structures. The combination of keyword searching with these methods, as well as date-filtering, allows experts to effectively sift through and identify relevant information from often large datasets, ensuring that important details are not overlooked.


Analysis involves interpreting the extracted data to draw conclusions relevant to the case or investigation. This might include linking files to their creators, establishing timelines, or uncovering patterns of behavior. The analysis must be thorough and unbiased, often requiring a deep understanding of how different digital systems and applications operate.


The findings from the examination and analysis are compiled into a detailed report, tailored to be accessible and understandable for stakeholders with various backgrounds, including attorneys and corporate executives.

This  report, available upon request, carefully explains the conclusions reached and provides an overview of the methodologies used, ensuring clarity and transparency. It also often addresses any limitations or challenges encountered during the investigation, providing a complete and balanced view of the process and findings.


In legal contexts, the digital forensic expert may be required to present their findings in court as an expert witness. This involves explaining the technical aspects of the evidence in a way that is understandable to the attorneys, judges, and the jury, while defending their methodologies and conclusions under cross-examination.


This field is continuously adapting to technological advancements, ensuring that the handling of digital evidence remains comprehensive and relevant. By bridging the gap between technology and legal processes, digital forensics not only enhances the credibility of evidence in legal contexts but also enhances an organization’s resilience against digital threats and disputes. Its importance in navigating the complex challenges of our digital era is a testament to its indispensable role in maintaining fairness, accuracy, and justice in the digital realm.


Angel Garrow


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Angel Garrow is a digital forensics expert with extensive experience in preserving, extracting, and interpreting electronically-stored information (ESI). Her expertise encompasses collecting and analyzing data from physical and virtual devices such as computers, mobile devices, cloud accounts, and social media. With a deep knowledge of the latest forensic tools and techniques, Angel is adept at collecting ESI for eDiscovery matters as well as performing digital investigations into user activity. Learn more about Angel.