Whenever a crime happens, everyone asks the same questions:
- How did the incident happen?
- How can it be prevented in the future?
The answers to these questions are difficult to determine as it depends on the severity of the incident. With regards to the first question, the role of forensics becomes significant. The evidence collected from the crime scene is carefully examined to understand the “who, what, where, and why” of the incident. Cyber forensic investigators make detailed reports of the incident to solve all queries and to use the collected information to prevent similar attacks from occurring in the future.
The term forensics, in its literal sense, stands for an established scientific process to collect, analyze, and present evidence collected from an investigation. The difference between a crime and cybercrime is that, when a cyber attack happens, the evidence is usually found in digital devices.
Cyber forensics also includes being able to present the findings in a way that is accepted in the court of law. The aim of digital forensics is to preserve evidence in its most original form so that a structured investigation can be performed to reconstruct past events.
As cybercrime increases, there is a strong need for cyber forensic expertise in all business models and more importantly among law enforcement agencies who rely on computer forensics to find cyber criminals.
Cyber Forensics—Tools and Tasking
Cyber forensic investigators are experts in investigating encrypted data using various types of software and tools. There are many upcoming techniques that investigators use depending on the type of cybercrime they are dealing with. The tasks for cyber investigators include recovering deleted files, cracking passwords, and finding the source of the security breach. Once collected, the evidence is then stored and translated to make it presentable before the court of law or for police to further examine.
Many believe that recovering false data is the key objective of cyber forensics. Though the creation of this science was meant to investigate false data, the enhancement of new techniques has added a larger scope through cyber forensics. The science of cyber forensics dates back to the era of floppy discs and since then it has evolved, growing parallelly in complexity with cybercrime.
Cold cases and cyber forensics
Cold cases stand for the type of cases that were not solved and left pending due to the lack of actual evidence. Law enforcement agencies are now reopening unsolved cold cases so that proper evidence can be gathered using cyber forensic methodologies.
Cold case of BTK solved after 13 years with the help of cyber forensic 
Between 1974 and 1991, BTK (bind, torture, kill) strangled 10 people and this was a mystery to the Wichita, Kansas police and FBI. BTK performed the acts out of bizarre fantasies by inflicting pain on his many victims, of whom two were children, 9 and 11 years old. The local police and FBI interrogated countless people, collected 1300 DNA samples, and analyzed his depraved writings that he used to send to local media along with puzzles and pictures. But all the efforts of law enforcement were in vain, and caused the case to go cold.
After 13 years, when BTK resumed communication with police and sent a message on a floppy disk, computer forensic experts analyzed the floppy disk for information and recovered a word document. The experts also retrieved metadata which is nothing but information about data where they found the name in the last modified file “Dennis” and the phrase “Christ Lutheran Church.” When searched online, on the website of the Lutheran church, Dennis Rader appeared as a president of the congregation council. The police initiated surveillance and a collected DNA sample from his daughter that proved that Dennis Rader was a criminal. He was then arrested in February 2005 and pled guilty. He was sentenced to 10 consecutive life sentences for his crimes.
Role of Cyber Forensics in Crime
The role of cyber forensics in criminal investigations is constantly increasing because of the skill that is required to retrieve information and use it as evidence. Though this task appears to be difficult for cyber forensic investigators, this is their expertise. Therefore, the demand for skilled professional is also growing. In the year 2015, Forbes Magazine declared the cyber forensic investigation as a number one profession . It is not just a critical position but the one that supports law enforcement by helping in solving the cases and impacting the overall efficiency of the team.