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Technological advances mean more sophisticated attacks on devices such as smartphones and laptops. These days, most business and personal transactions are performed electronically, and confidential data is stored on network drives and in the cloud. What happens, then, if your data is stolen or deleted? How will you retrieve the lost information, secure your data in the future, and determine the cause of the breach?
Digital forensics software can help with these and other cybersecurity concerns. These tools aid efforts to collect and preserve evidence, and analyze digital footprints found on devices/in a system after a data breach. Digital forensics software lets you recover data from devices, read encrypted files, and document evidence as needed in response to cybersecurity attacks.
Digital forensics software is closely related to network monitoring and investigation management software. Understanding the differences between these tools and selecting the right fit for your business can be overwhelming. Don't give up; this digital forensics software buyers guide has all the information you need to choose the right software for your organization's needs.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- What is digital forensics software?
- Common features of digital forensics software
- What type of buyer are you?
- Benefits of digital forensics software
- Market trends to understand
What is digital forensics software?
Digital forensics software can be used within your IT system to collect digital evidence (in the form of documents, files, records, or data) to determine the cause of security incidents. These tools are used to identify, collect, preserve, analyze, interpret, document, and present evidence gathered from hardware or network logs to recreate security incidents on an electronic device or determine how a device was used to commit a crime.
Digital forensics tools can specialize in specific areas, including database forensics, email analysis, network analysis, memory forensics, disk and data capture, computer forensics,and file analysis. Some tools offer functionality in multiple areas, essentially providing a single toolkit to address varied digital forensics needs.
Common features of digital forensics software
|Investigation management||Track and capture data from multiple sources so you can quickly search, identify, and prioritize potential evidence for cybercrime investigations.|
|Data management||Acquire, validate, store, protect, and process data including system logs, application logs, user authentication logs, and database logs in one location.|
|Evidence management||Collect, document, and secure evidence in a centralized platform for easy access and sharing with investigators.|
|Reporting/Analytics||Generate easy-to-read and interactive reports for legal proceedings.|
|Data/File recovery||Recover data and files that were lost or deleted as a result of cybercrime or unauthorized access.|
|Incident response||Define a set of policies and procedures to quickly identify, contain, and respond to cyberattacks.|
|Network monitoring||Track network aspects such as traffic, bandwidth utilization, uptime, and performance. This can help users monitor anomalous traffic, and analyze email or chat sessions to identify intrusions and insider threats.|
|Computer and mobile device acquisition||Acquire data from a variety of devices including computers and mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, and GPSs.|
|Decryption||Convert encrypted data to its original form so it can be understood by both users and systems. This can be used to find protected and hidden files, detect deleted data, and recover complex passwords during forensic investigations.|
|Keyword search||Find specific evidence within a large collection of data. Users can add multiple keywords at once to search digital documents and attachments.|
|Timeline analysis||Collect and analyze chronological event data to determine what occurred and when within a filesystem for forensic purposes. This can help answer questions about when a computer/device was used or what occurred before/after a security incident.|
What type of buyer are you?
Understanding the different types of digital forensics software buyers in the market will help you determine what type of buyer you are and make an informed purchase. The majority of digital forensics software buyers fall into the following categories:
- Legal enforcement agencies: These agencies use computers and software to fight crimes in both criminal and civil cases, as well as present evidence in court. These buyers should look for solutions that can help them in cases concerning mishandling of government data, identity theft, privacy concerns, and sexual harassment. A multipurpose digital forensics tool that offers electronic discovery, memory forensics, cyberforensics, and remote forensic capabilities would be a good fit for these buyers.
- Commercial organizations: These organizations often deal with insider threats, cyberthreats, or data loss, which can be costly. Using digital forensics software to gather information from company devices can be more cost-effective than hiring a dedicated investigative team. These orgs should consider digital forensics tools with features including network monitoring and data/file recovery to aid in instances of intellectual property theft, employment disputes, bankruptcy investigations, and fraud compliance.
Benefits of digital forensics software
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of using a digital forensics tool:
- Ensure system integrity: These tools manage vast volumes of digital evidence without altering the data within a system. This means users can document who accessed the system, when, and from where to maintain system integrity and determine whether it was subject to any criminal activity or policy violations.
- Recover stolen/deleted information: In a business data breach or case of stolen identity, recovering stolen or deleted information is crucial. Digital forensics software can help users recover stolen or deleted files, passwords, and other data that was erased or damaged.
- Prevent hackers and viruses: Data collected with a digital forensics tool can impact future cybersecurity. The trends identified from collected data can help users learn how a virus was introduced to a device or network, or how hackers accessed, stole, deleted, and exploited information. Such data can help companies to prevent cyberthreats, detect relevant data to protect, and pay special attention to emails and files that they receive.
Market trends to understand
Here’s a digital forensics software market trend to keep in mind when making your purchase:
- Increasing role of artificial intelligence (AI) in digital forensics software. Digital forensics investigators are exposed to ever increasing amounts of data from social media, the cloud, personal networks, smart sensors, and video footage. AI technology has improved investigators' ability to identify and investigate the root cause of cybercrimes. Digital forensics software paired with AI technology offers intelligent analysis of unstructured data to identify potential suspects or predict where cybercrime is likely to occur. In the future, software providers may use AI to facilitate collaborative analysis of cybercrime and recognize patterns in programmatic signatures of suspected criminals.
Note: The application selected in this article is an example to show a feature in context and is not intended as an endorsement or recommendation. It has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.