Digital Forensics: Think Like a Hacker

Taylor Karl
Digital Forensics: Think Like a Hacker 729 0

Digital Forensics: Think Like a Hacker

"Digital forensics is the process of uncovering and interpreting electronic data. The goal of the process is to preserve any evidence in its most original form while performing a structured investigation by collecting, identifying, and validating the digital information to reconstruct past events." -Technopedia

History of Digital Forensics

In the 1980’s digital forensics was known as computer forensics and in the 1990’s the field was renamed to what we now call digital forensics. The first ever digital forensics investigators worked for law enforcement, and it wasn’t until 2008 that the FBI established the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force that included more than 30 agencies from law enforcement, intelligence community and the department of defense. Fast forward to 2021, digital forensics plays a major role in numerous law enforcement settings.

What is Digital Forensics?

Digital Forensics is a branch of forensic science that works to determine who is responsible for a digital intrusion or other cybercrime committed. This process of identifying preserving, analyzing, and documenting digital evidence is a critical piece of Incident Response in business!

Know the Hacker:

When looking into any sort of investigation, you must know the individual on the other side of the screen. Identifying what type of hacker you are dealing with can be key to responding to a breach; here are 3 categories of hackers.

  • Black hat hackers are often known as the unethical hackers who hack systems for fun or some sort of financial gains.
  • White hat hackers referred often as "ethical hackers," are known to be hired by organizations and government entities to check for security vulnerabilities in systems.
  • Grey hat hackers are blend of both black and white hat qualities and they more often carry out hacking tasks without permission from any organization or person. For example, an individual can hack an organization’s cloud server and then request to be compensated for such findings without the knowledge of the organization.

Just like someone’s handwriting or signature, every hacker has a pattern of doing things. Each hacker has their own personal key stroke and can be identified by these patterns; digital Forensics helps determine information like this. Just like any other criminal, hackers exhibit certain behaviors. In a case study, Matt Wixey, the Head of Technical Research at PwC's Cyber Security practice in the UK, identified three different types of behavior hackers exhibit: navigation, how they move through a compromised system; enumeration, which is how they work out what kind of system they’ve gained access to; and exploitation, how they try to escalate their privileges and steal data.

Identify the Hack:

Digital forensics uses several types of software to help with investigations. There are 3 top commercial digital forensics suites used by investigators: Guidance Software’s EnCase Forensic, Access Data’s Forensic Tool Kit FTK) and Prodiscover. These tools are designed to for ease of use, efficiency, certification, good training, and reporting.

Closing Thoughts

Most hacks are due to human error and one of the easiest ways of reducing that error is education. Training employees, IT specific or end-user, can be the biggest roadblock you can create to stop hackers in their tracks. From training employees, you can then develop a response plan tailored to different types of breaches. Organizations who can detect and respond to data breaches are likely to spend $1.1 million less than companies who take 200 days or more. Less down time equals less money lost which is all around better for business.

Learn more about how you can increase the importance of cyber security at your organization by head to United Training page for EC-Council Computer Hacking Forensics Investigator (CHFI) v9.0 and CompTIA Penetration Tester+ (PenTest+) Certification.

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