At first sight, digital forensics does not seem any different than common data recovery. The two terms are even used interchangeably. Data recovery entails recovering data from the damaged storage medium and the process for data forensics is similar too. Hard drives and storage devices may sometimes be subject to water or compact disks may be exposed to scratches or USB drives may have some ports physically damaged and data becomes inaccessible. Recovering this data from damaged drives involves disassembly of the media and many times repair of the damaged parts. Sometimes the data is completely retrieved and sometimes it’s not. But the process used to extract data from the devices for both processes are the same. What then is the difference between data forensics and data recovery.
Data Recovery and Digital Forensics - let’s take a look at each one of these terms separately:
Imagine that your hard disk crashed, or the data was accidently formatted. At first thought, you think that all the data you saved on the storage device is lost. But, that’s not usually the case. The data on your storage device may still be intact. This is exactly where data recovery specialists step in. Data recovery specialists analyse the damage and check how much data is recoverable. Unless there is severe physical damage to the device, the analyst can retrieve the data use specialised data recovery software and tools. Many times the process involves tearing the device apart, repairing the damage and (fixing those parts that caused the data to be inaccessible) and then attempt to recover the data from it. The recovered data is often transferred to a new medium.
While the first step for both processes is the same, there is a subtle difference between the two. Digital forensics is not only interested in recovering the data, but also interested in the content of the recovered data. Digital forensic experts analyse the recovered data and prepare a detailed report of what they were able to retrieve. This process is mainly used to assist law enforcement agencies where the findings from the content of the recovered data could be used as evidence in an on-going investigation. Businesses may request digital forensics for devices such as computers, hard disks and laptops when an employee exits or there had been disputes regarding the data due to employee misconduct. This is one example of how forensics helps.
Common cases in which data recovery is used
Failed drives, reformatted operating systems, and crashed servers:
Many times, storage devices crash or malfunction unexpectedly. Data recovery focuses on salvaging the data from these devices so that organizations do not need to suffer losses.
Common cases in which data forensics is used
Investigating internal policy violations such as intellectual property (IP) theft:
This is one of the most common and typical corporate use for digital forensics. If an employee leaves a certain organization and joins their competitor, and takes proprietary files like revenue model, customer databases or trade secrets along with them, digital forensic experts can run an investigation and identify what data was stolen. Further, digital forensics is also used to bolster cases against employees in instances of fraud within the organization. Laptops, social media applications and mobile phones can be used to derive data that can provide evidence in the form of conversation histories and geolocation data.
To sum it up…
So, in essence, data recovery is a part of larger data forensics. Digital forensics goes way beyond simple ‘getting the data back and handing it over to the owner’. It enables further analysis and helps in answering some crucial questions for investigative work whether it’s for law enforcement or employee misconduct in organizations.
Data recovery specialists as well as digital forensics specialists are experts at recovering and preserving digital data. The only difference lies in how their job functions help after the data has been recovered.
At ECS we offer digital data recovery as well as digital forensic services. Our data recovery professionals have the skills to recover almost any form of digital information that could prove useful and could serve as evidence in case required.
If data recovery is a concern or you would like a consultation on how data forensics can help your organization, contact us @ firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 898000 5006. we would be happy to set up a call to discuss your requirements further.