We all know what forensics is used for with investigative work on criminal cases, but digital forensics might not be as clear to our readers. In this article, we cover digital forensics, what it is, why it’s useful and how it can save your sanity.

What is it?

People who work in digital forensics look at your computer or network to determine how a data breach occurred, where the intruder was on the network, and what files were accessed, copied/moved, deleted or transferred off the network.

One variant of this kind of work is remote forensics. This is where a team of digital forensic experts accesses your PC or network by connecting from their office to yours to complete their investigation. Using remote forensics, it provides access to distant locations in situations where the PC isn’t releasable for review or has sensitive data that cannot leave the office building.

What Are the Signs That Your System Has Been Hacked?

It’s fair to say that when you think someone has successfully hacked into a PC or a smartphone, then you’re in trouble.

The signs are sometimes subtle and hard to track at first. Maybe files start to get corrupted, moved or go missing? The hard disk or CPU could be working overtime for no apparent reason. Or, the internet access is being utilized when there’s nothing running that would require it. Perhaps a bot is now installed in the background as part of a botnet and being controlled from a distance?

It’s important to realize that not all hacks, malware installations, or viruses are immediately obvious. Sometimes, they burrow into the system and lay dormant. Other times, they leak out information gradually a bit at a time to avoid discovery. It’s all very sneaky!

When is Forensics Needed?

When you’re unclear as to whether you’ve been hacked or how an intrusion occurred, it’s a real issue. At that point, it’s time to get some help.

Regular PC users or IT departments rarely have any training on how to deal with that kind of issue, so the skilled hacker has a significant advantage. Leveling the playing field means bringing in some experts to render assistance.

How is it a Life Saver?

Digital forensics is a life saver because they can confirm that you’re not going crazy – there has been a penetration of your PC or network. That you’re not imagining it and your suspicions were correct is not good news per se, but at least you’re not chasing mental ghosts now. You’ve confirmed, yes, there is a real problem and you’ve got people in to resolve it.

Remember, investigations can be run remotely if needed. A digital forensics team don’t have to even be in the same city to assist you. This is very useful when you need someone to look at the problem almost immediately if the threat is still present.

The peace of mind that comes from resolving a potential intrusion into your computing systems and strengthening your systems against further problems is invaluable. With data breaches on the rise, it’s always a good idea to stay vigilant too.

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By Annabel Johnson

Part time gamer, reviewer and blogger. Full time geek and tech expert!

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