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04/05/2022

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Digital Forensic In Cybersecurity: How Is The Former Important?

Updated on: 20/05/2022

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Cybersecurity and digital forensics go hand in hand. Thus, cybersecurity would not be that impactful without the information collected via the digital forensics. Thus, digital forensic in cybersecurity is important as cybersecurity consumes the information that the digital forensics has to offer through various cases and also creates different ways to prevent the digital forensic investigations.

Additionally, digital forensics exists owing to the weak or failed cybersecurity tactics. Understanding both and how important they are to each other is essential for keeping your information secure and private. 

Digital Forensic vs Cyber Security: How Are They Different?

People often ask is digital forensics part of cyber security? Cybersecurity and digital forensics are both vital things that one needs to know and understand if they are using any sort of technology. Both the digital forensics and cybersecurity handle messages, keeping mails, and also keeps the account private. 

If you ask what is digital forensics, then it is simply referred to the investigation of a device, usually in the court of law, when an individual is under interrogation for breaching information or data. Digital forensics also recover the data making use of the complex tools in the bid to bring a person before justice for tampering with or exploiting the private data. The computer forensic services do the exact same thing. The only difference is that they only work with the computers as well as the routers or servers affiliated with a computer. 

On the contrary, cybersecurity specifically deals with the usage of tactics or software for protecting a device or the network from the hijackers or hackers. This sort of technology makes use of the information that the digital forensic services have acquired in order to prevent the cyber attacks. That being said, cybersecurity is dependent on digital forensics. Next, we will discuss the benefits of digital forensic in cybersecurity.

Advantages Of Digital Forensic In Cybersecurity

Below are some of the major benefits of digital forensic in cybersecurity and why they are being widely used. 

1. Prevents The Hijackers Or The Malicious Hackers

The digital forensic in cybersecurity has found some valuable information that permits the cybersecurity companies to develop technology preventing the hackers from accessing a network, device or a website. The malicious hackers or the hijackers are skilled enough at making their way into the device or network of a person or businesses. However, the digital forensics have collected the required data that cybersecurity can use to prevent the hackers from getting into a device or network. 

The trends that reveal how the malicious hackers steal, delete or even exploit the information, the cybersecurity software can detect the relevant data that is required to protect and can also constantly scan the networks to make sure that no outside parties are present. 

2. Prevents Malware & Viruses

Anti-virus software is perhaps one of the best advantages when considering how digital forensics has largely impacted cybersecurity. Digital forensics has discovered the ways with which the viruses get onto a device or a network. Usually, a malicious hacker will definitely implement a virus by sending a corrupt file or email. With the help of this information, the anti-virus software can pay special attention to the files and the emails that are coming in. 

In the same way, the software that has been developed from the digital forensic information can also detect the spyware or the malware and usually can remove it prior to the exploitation or deletion of any information.

3. Recover The Deleted Data

Recovering the deleted information is vital in a  digital investigation, in a civilian's life whose identity has been digitally stolen or in a data breach of your business. Digital forensics also recovers the information making use of the complex tools and the methods in the bid to present it in a court of law. However, the digital forensics have also permitted cybersecurity to develop the ways to conduct this if a person requires to recover information and that there is not any court case. 

Disaster Recovery or DR is an area of cybersecurity that has been designed to protect a network and is usually affiliated with a business, from a cyber attack. The disaster recovery curates a plan having step by step strategies for recovering the disrupted networks in case a cyber attack does occur. Thus, an emergency plan is already at disposal where the information will be stored in the different networks or servers that are so easy to recover. 

4. Helps To Analyse Ransomware

A reverse engineering process in cybersecurity involves taking a piece of hardware or software and analysing the functions and information flow in the bid to understand its behaviour and functionality. The cyber defence is often reverse engineered for combating the malware or ransomware. With the help of the gathered information through the digital forensics, the malware analysts aim to understand the behaviour and functionalities of the particular ransomware through reverse engineering. This helps him to take necessary actions following thereafter. 

5. Identifies The Areas Of Security Vulnerabilities Or Weaknesses

It is apparent that the areas of weaknesses or the security vulnerabilities are not easily noticeable. This is what makes it easier for the cyber attackers to access the information  or data without any issue. The digital forensic services also compile the information that can display the cybersecurity the exact typical areas of the weaknesses in the website or network. Then the cybersecurity software can pay special attention or fix all the areas of vulnerability or weaknesses. 

A specifically common area of vulnerability or weaknesses is simply the password thing of a network or the account. Often, the hackers gain access to all the required devices by conducting research on a company or a person and also guessing their password. It is crucial that you must not keep your password for anything that possesses a significant personal meaning like birthday, name or name of your pets that people can guess very easily. 

It is especially vital to keep all your passwords confidential and is especially true for the businesses. A major weakness amongst the owners of a business that the digital forensic investigators have discovered is that too many of the employees have access to the information that they generally do not even require. This permits cyber attacks and data breaches to occur within a business. 

What Are The Consequences Of Not Paying Attention To Digital Forensic In Cybersecurity?

The following are some of the consequences that you will face if you or your business are not paying proper attention to digital forensics.

Continued Access & Damage

The organisations that do not make use of the digital forensics often run the risk of the attackers that are remaining in their systems or have the continued access to their data. There can also be dire consequences to the outside forces that are gaining access to the data of the organisation both from the business perspective and legally. The most common thing  is that these bad actors steal sensitive information, which includes the credit card numbers, phone numbers, names constituting the PII or the Personally Identifiable Information

Loss of The Competitive Advantage & Legal Consequences

Losing your business information to the hackers or the thieves can also mean the loss of the competitive advantage for a company. It can also attract legal consequences if the data is the protected information belonging to a third-party or a client. Any organisation having access to this information possesses a legal as well as ethical duty to protect it. In most of the countries, they are obliged to report cyber attacks if data gets compromised. 

Why Must Businesses Act Quickly If They Require Digital Forensic Service?

For all the businesses that hold their customers’ data, it is important for them to indulge in digital forensics. In case of a cyber attack event, the digital artefacts and the evidence should be preserved immediately for an effective investigation that will take place. In this regard, an important point to note is that a digital forensic investigation will not do much in order to prevent a cyber attack. It is used after an attack that has already occured. 

This, however, does not literally mean that the information that has been acquired during the investigation cannot be used by the unaffected businesses in the bid to prevent future attacks. This is also effective in identifying the weaknesses in the existing security system that can either be replaced or fixed. The digital forensics can also determine in case there is still any suspicious activity and also alert you if the desired steps are required to be taken for mitigating the possible cyber threats. 

Digital Forensic In Cybersecurity: What Are The Processes involved?

The digital forensic in cybersecurity investigation can be broken down into 5 stages. Here is the digital forensics life cycle in cyber security:

  • Identification

This stage solely focuses on establishing the scope of an investigation and also outlines the goals and objectives that are required to be met. Identifying the evidence that requires to be collected and the devices used will aid guide the investigation.

  • Preservation

In this step, precautions are taken for ensuring as much digital evidence as possible is preserved on the affected network. The preservation is usually conducted in the form of an image backup file. It is of crucial importance to the digital forensics entity to possess imaging software that utilises the “write blockers” for ensuring no additional digital footprints have been left behind by the forensic examiner. 

  • Analysis

Digital artefacts and data are collected throughout the investigation and are then analysed and joined together for uncovering what exactly has happened during the cyber attack. The forensics investigators also dig into the incident for creating a timeline of events.  

  • Documentation

At this stage, all the digital evidence that has been collected is recorded as it pertains to the cybercrime at hand. The documentation solely contains the most critical information that is required to make an accurate conclusion, Then the findings will be prepared in a professional method for the use of presentation in the court of law. 

  • Presentation

This is the most important step of the digital forensic investigation. The forensic investigators will state what has happened during the cyber attack and also present their findings in such a manner that it can be easily understood by everyone. This is very important as the findings might be used for the internal investigations businesses following the cyber attack.  

Techniques Malware Analysts Use To Analyse Malware & Ransomware

Here are all the important techniques that the malware analysts employ while analysing the ransomware and malware.

Static Analysis

Also known as code analysis, it is the process of analysing the malware or the binaries without the requirement of actually running them. This can be as simple as looking at the metadata from a file. It can also range from conducting disassembly or the decompilation of the malware code for symbolic execution, which is considered something like the virtual execution of a binary without actually executing it in the real environment. 

Dynamic Analysis

Dynamic or Behavioural analysis is the process of analysing a piece of malware or ransomware when the malware analysts are actually trying it in a real environment. In such a case, they are mostly looking at the side effects of what it is doing. They are also running the tools such as process monitor to know what kinds of artefacts are produced by the malware or ransomware following its execution.

Automated Analysis

Many times, if the malware analysts are looking at the malware or ransomware that they want to automate things just in the bid to speed up the process for saving some quality time. However, the malware analysts use required caution as with the automated analysis, sometimes few things get missed as they are trying to do the things generically.

Manual Analysis

If a piece of malware contains specific things such as anti-analysis mechanisms or anti-debugging routines, the malware analysts might want to perform a manual analysis and that they are required to pick the right tools for that. 

Malware Analysis Tools Used By The Malware Analysts

In the bid to reverse the malware code or the ransomware code, the malware analysts will often make use of a couple of tools. Here are the most important ones. 

Disassemblers

A disassembler such as IDA Pro will differentiate an application for producing the assembly code. Decompilers are also available that convert the binary code into the native ones. However, the latter is not available for all of the architectures. 

Debuggers

The reversers make use of the debuggers such as x64dbg, Windbg, GDB for manipulating the execution of a program for acquiring insights into what it is doing when it is running. They also permit the engineer to control specific aspects of the program while it is still running like the areas of the program’s memory. This permits for more insight into what the program is actually doing and how it is impacting a network or a system.

PE Viewers

The PE  (or Windows Portable Executable file format) viewers such as CFF Explorer, PE Explorer extracts the crucial information from the executables in the bid to provide dependency viewing, for example.

Network Analysers

The network analysers such as Wireshark, inform a malware analyst how a specific program is interacting with the other machines. This includes what connections the program is making and what kind of data is being attempted to be transmitted.

The Latest Digital Forensic Techniques

The introduction of the Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 (also known as Web 3) technologies and the significant development in the digital space, has noticeably changed the paradigm of the entire world. These days, people are increasingly engaged in web-based interactions, sharing their experiences online and contributing to open projects. However, the ease of execution of all of the activities supported by anonymity is raising distress about the verifiability and trust. 

Thus, it is crucial to investigate all the challenges owing to the development of the digital space while simultaneously discovering the latest techniques in digital forensic. Here are some of the latest techniques of digital forensic in cybersecurity.

1. Cloud Forensics

Cloud forensics have recently gained much popularity by the forensics experts owing to the fact that the cloud computing offers a vast resource pool, dynamicity, cost-effective solution and wide access for the storage. The private, hybrid and public models of cloud computing exist, simultaneously to multiple services like database as service, security as service, software as service and integration as service. 

Furthermore, most of the organisations and companies transfer their products and services across the cloud on an everyday basis owing to several benefits including reduced cost of the IT infrastructure, high scalability, access to the automatic updates, and the business continuity. Owing to this, cloud computing has widely been accepted in multiple government and private companies. Similarly, the Communication Service Providers have also established their data centres across the globe in several jurisdictions offering cloud services for ensuring the service availability and value effectiveness. 

However, the rise in the cybercrimes and the security in the cloud environment are the major challenges for the organisations to transfer their systems to this platform. Additionally, since the forensic investigation in a cloud computing environment is essentially complex, the security analysts can see cloud computing as a potential area of concern. Thus, cloud forensics have gained a major attention from the forensic experts to resolve the cloud computing issues. 

Cloud forensics can also be described as the potential application of digital forensics in a cloud-based environment. This field specifically utilises the scientific principles, technological practices and proven methods to process the events in the cloud environment through examination, reporting, collection, preservation and identification of the digital data so that the events can be reconstructed later. 

2. Social Media Forensics

The advancement in the Web 2.0, 3.0 and the industry 4.0, the technologies have significantly raised the acceptance of social media platforms. It has become a basic source of socialisation. The users are actively engaged in sharing their information, creating numerous accounts, through these websites. This enables the hackers to be exposed to the different opportunities to exploit the accounts of the users. 

Additionally, various social media applications such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have been attacked with several kinds of cyber threats. Attacks on social media platforms can even take place outside the system or network or within the network. Cyber attacks can also be caused by third party involvement. Outside systems attacks usually include the most common DDoS or Distributed Denial of Service, 0day vulnerability etc.

Besides this, it has been established that the database of these social media apps is most vulnerable to such attacks. Taking into consideration such situations, the digital investigators have now shifted their interest to social media forensics. This branch of practice assists the experts in carrying out a criminal investigation wherein the social media posts serve as excellent evidence to the investigators. Similarly, the social media platforms are a perfect source of information regarding the potential suspects, offenders and the witnesses and considered supreme for profiling.

By combining the social media and digital forensics, the investigators can also acquire access to a diverse and modern subset of data sources which includes the photographs, demographic location, geolocation, contact lists and the text messages. The network data when combined with the metadata possesses the potential to assist the digital forensic investigation. 

In addition to this, the metadata can also be utilised to authenticate the online social networking facts. Thus, it can be contended that social media forensics is a growing trend in the digital forensics domain owing to its ability to efficiently offer adequate digital evidence.

3. Internet Of Things (IoT) Forensics

The IoT or Internet of Things is a recent paradigm that has notably changed the method mobile communication works. Using the concept, IoT can be well defined as the interconnectivity of the electronic devices that combines the situational knowledge as well as the sensing powers to execute the tasks pretty intelligently. The major IoT devices comprises the tablets, smartphones, personal computers (PCs), laptops and various other embedded portable devices. 

The continuous growth in this area of IoT systems has permitted the users to share their data across various platforms. Additionally, the IoT systems can efficiently communicate with each other either directly or through the internet application programming interface. IoT can also be controlled via the computing devices such as the cloud servers. The smartness of the IoT systems as well as its networking capabilities offer significant benefits for both the domestic applications and the businesses.  

Key Takeaways

Digital forensics in cybersecurity has acquired notable attention owing to the rise in cyber crimes. The rise in digital technology has benefited a lot of fields where the fact remains that it has definitely presented new ways of conducting cyber crimes. Besides this, methodologies, malicious software and the tools are being designed and implemented each day to pose a threat to the public as well as the private networks and additionally exploiting the data storage in the hope of extracting and exploiting the useful information. These cyber breaches and the security vulnerabilities have inspired the developments in the digital forensics domain so that the digital evidence can be easily extracted from the digital devices and used in the criminal and civil legal proceedings.

Digital forensic is something that needs to be handled by the cyber forensic experts. If you think you already seek the help for breach or to learn about the security vulnerabilities of your website, you must not hesitate to consult the best digital forensic experts.


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