They may sound similar but forensic data recovery is significantly different from the usual data recovery. While the end result may be the same, the process and the way they are achieved is quite different.
What is Forensic Data Recovery?
The usual data recovery refers to the process of salvaging corrupted, damaged, formatted or inaccessible data from a secondary storage when they cannot be accessed in a traditional manner. Forensic data recovery, on the other hand, refers to the forensic extraction of data from damaged evidence sources. In other words, data recovered in a forensic manner can be later used and relied upon in a court of law.
In forensic data recovery, it is important that the objectives are clear from the get-go. The hard drives, or any storage device to be extracted from, must be properly dealt with so as not to compromise its validity. Subsequently, the ‘forensic’ element in the data recovery results in information admissible for legal purposes or court proceedings, whether civil or criminal in nature.
The Job of Data Recovery Specialists
Data collection is done by a third party specialist, so as to prevent conflict of interest. Further, the job of the data recovery specialist is to extract and recover lost data. They are not legal advisers; therefore, they cannot offer technical advice on certain areas of the law. They can, however, acquire, isolate, and report electronics and digital media as evidence.
Aside from the expertise of the specialist, a forensic report is also normally required in the court of law. The report includes the details on how the data was recovered, from the process and the safeguards that were used for the extraction. Also included in the report is the professional opinion and answers posed by the legal teams.
In most cases, findings raise more questions from the initial investigation, which further facilitates the fact-finding process.
Uses and Benefits
The following are the main reasons why this method of data recovery is applied in the field of forensics.
Recover deleted and hidden files
Since data can be stored anywhere in the computer, specialists are trained to look everywhere. A person may assume that any incriminating email, text message, or photo may be gone after deleting it from their computer or phone, but the truth is, it is stored somewhere on the device.
A specialist can uncover any piece of evidence anywhere. This can be relevant in many cases, such as harassment, protection, child support, divorce, small claims, breach of contract, and so on.
Can analyze almost all memory-based devices
The list of devices that can be requested through the court extends way past cellphones and computers. Deleted files on USB, emails, external hard drives, and even cloud-based accounts, GPS devices and smart watches can all be examined for forensic data recovery.
And there are no limits on what type of data or file to recover. Specialists can dig up web browser history, photos and videos, documents, audio and video files, PowerPoint presentations, and even call logs, text messages, and emails. Even the smallest of details can be used to put up the puzzles of the case buildup.
Preserves data integrity
Data specialists preserve the integrity of the collected data by using writer-blocker. This is usually included in their report.
Additionally, specialists follow certain protocols for data analysis and recovery, and any deviations from the said protocols must be reported. Thus, it is important to hire the services of a forensic data recovery specialist that specializes on data extraction used for litigations.
Uncover the ‘unknown’
Specialists are highly trained to search for the unknown; they can search for patterns, find links between various sets of data, and connect the dots to uncover information that might not be initially considered, or facts that are thought to be irrelevant or inaccessible.