Computer forensics is the oldest of the sub-disciplines that make up digital forensics. Computers are often the main source of digital evidence in civil litigation cases, and with good reason. Computers can contain a massive amount of useful information in a case in and of themselves. They can also contain useful information about other devices like USB thumb drives, cell phones, digital cameras, portable hard drives, server shares, and cloud data. Almost all devices at one point or another circle back around to a computer. For instance, to create a backup of the information on your cell phone, it can be connected to the computer. The same is true if you want to get the pictures off a digital camera or USB thumb drive.
Computer forensics consists of examining evidence found on a computer hard drive and, in some instances, the examination of data on other hardware components within the computer, like the memory. The foundation of computer forensics is data recovery, and much of this sub-discipline revolves around that aspect.
While cell phones have surpassed computers as the primary form of evidence in most case types, computers still reign supreme in many forms of civil litigation. It is hard to imagine working without the use of technology today, and the hyper-connectivity of businesses is only accelerating. This connectivity requires computers, servers, and peripheral electronic devices to facilitate our modern work environment.
While this connectivity can increase the efficiency and quality of our work, along with it comes challenges, mostly surrounding the protection of sensitive data. Confidential customer lists, proprietary information, and executive strategy documents are being transferred out of an organization by employees, or former employees, as we speak. These transfers do not require technical sophistication. These activities might be intended by the employee, or at other times, it is done by accident or by an automated process of the computer. In all of these instances, a computer forensic examination would be needed to determine the root cause.