Digital Evidence

Digital evidence is any information or data “stored on, received or transmitted by an electrical device” (“A Simplified Guide”). The launch of the Internet created a whole new platform for criminals to transmit and share illegal activities. The Internet made it possible for criminals to hack into virtually any agency or website they want to. This new capability created a challenge for investigators to keep up with any new technological advances used to steal anything from money to identities.

Computers and cell phones are part of the ever-growing world of digital evidence. Both can be used to store, transmit, and receive any amount of information. Information can also be removed or deleted from the devices.

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Examination of devices suspected or known to be involved in criminal behavior must be carefully examined. The data stored on them can be easily manipulated, lost, or contaminated if the examiner is not careful and if the device is not transported correctly. All material on the device is placed on another clean storage device, and other precautionary measures are taken to ensure that the information on the device cannot be manipulated by an outside source. After this, the examiners go through the files and anything that is stored on the device. They can go through “the system of Internet addresses, email header information, time stamps on messaging and other encrypted data” to figure out what the owner of the device was doing and create a timeline of activity (“A Simplified Guide”).

Digital evidence can be a vital part of an investigation, especially if that was a main form of communication between criminals. A perpetrator can unknowingly give investigators exactly what they need to put the criminal in jail and sometimes, put an end to a crime ring or stop a crime before it happens.

Source: “A Simplified Guide to Digital Evidence.” Forensic Science Simplified. 2013. Web. 20 Jan. 2016.

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