Testimony and Ethics
Computer forensics entails carefully examining and collecting any kind of electronic evidence, which evaluates the damage to a computer system because of an electronic attack but to also recover any lost data from an electronic system to prosecute a criminal. It also entails the identification, preservation, documentation, extraction and interpretation of computer information and data. With the mounting significance of computer security in the present society and the gravity of cyber crime, it is quite critical for the professionals in the computer forensic field to comprehend the technology that is used in computer forensics. This paper will discuss the ethical behaviors and considerations that computer forensics investigators should follow on a day-to-day basis and develop a code of ethics as well as the code of professional conduct of the professionals.
The three significant steps that a computer forensic investigator follows in a forensic investigation are acquiring, analyzing and authenticating the data. When acquiring the data, the forensic investigator creates a bit-by-bit copy of the hard drive of the computer. In the authentication process, the computer forensic investigator ensures that the copy used to perform the forensic investigation is a precise imitation of the original hard drive’s contents by evaluating the checksums of the original and copy. The analysis is the most significant part of the forensic investigation because it is where the incriminating evidence is normally found. Because of the significance of information and data that can be derived from a computer forensic investigation, computer forensic investigators should consider some ethical considerations.
Computer forensics is basically a way of gathering any type of electronic evidence when conducting an investigation. It is an important field that requires the computer forensic investigator to possess a complicated nix of legal knowledge, technical skills and ethical behavior patterns. These forensic investigators normally use some powerful software tools, which uncover the multitude of data to be sorted and it is up to the forensic investigator to figure out the significant facts and to present them well in an ethical manner. Therefore, to use this data to indict any criminal act as well as to avoid suppression during a criminal trial, the evidence should be collected legally and carefully. It is very important for a computer forensic investigator to be well informed of the privacy rights of victims, uninvolved third parties and victims. The computer forensic investigator must be knowledgeable of several statues and laws that govern the collection of electronic evidence.
Ethical considerations of a forensic expert
- The computer forensic investigator should only provide his or her professional opinion only when it is initiated upon sufficient knowledge of all the facts, upon a background of honest conviction and technical competence when giving his or her testimony as an expert witness.
- The computer forensic investigator should ethically follow the general methods used in computer forensics as described in the table below.
|Protect||The computer forensic investigator should protect the subject computer system from any kind of data corruption, alteration, and physical damage and from any kind of infection from viruses.|
|Discover||The computer forensic investigator should follow all the rules when uncovering all the files in the computer system. These files may be such as hidden, normal, password protected encrypted and deleted files.|
|Recover||The computer forensic investigator should follow the rules and regulations when recovering the deleted files in the computer system.|
|Reveal||The computer forensic investigator should guarantee that he or she reveals all the contents of the temporary and hidden files in the computer system to the superiors.|
|Access||The computer forensic investigator should only access the encrypted and protected files only if they are legal.|
|Analyze||The computer forensic investigator should scrutinize the relevant data from the computer system, even including data allocated in file slack and unallocated file space.|
|Report||The computer forensic investigator must print out a catalog of all the appropriate files and provide an honest opinion of the examination of the whole computer system.|
|Testimony||The computer forensic investigator should strive to provide expert consultation or testimony if necessitated.|
My own internal code of ethics as a computer forensic investigator
- I should conduct myself honorably in the course of my computer forensic profession.
- I should strive to promote to the utmost of my power the interests of the society as a whole.
- I should have special regard at all times to the maintenance of the highest standards of integrity and competence in the course of my profession.
- I should only undertake any forensic activities corresponding with and in the areas within which I am accredited or registered by the society.
- As a computer forensic investigator, I should strive to effectively manage the discovery of any confidential data in the computer system that may even seem irrelevant at hand.
- As a forensic investigator, I should acknowledge any type of errors that might have happened in the course of the forensic investigation.
- During the course of a computer forensic investigation, as a forensic investigator, I should not be biased during the whole duration of the investigation. In most cases, when a forensic investigator is involved in a forensic investigation with the hope that the main suspect will be found innocent, sometimes the forensic investigator might ignore some aspects of the evidence pointing in the direction of the guilt of the suspect and instead only report the evidence that suggests the innocence of the suspect. An ethical problem arises at this point and is thus necessary for a computer forensic investigator to remove all kind of biasness during the whole period of the computer forensic investigation.
- As a computer forensic investigator, I should strive to spend the required time to completely and thoroughly scrutinize the subject computer for evidence. This is because it is quite significant to completely evaluate the computer machine with the proficiency needed and any insufficiencies in this venture can ruin the whole investigation within a split second.
- Furthermore, as a computer forensic investigator, I should strive to maintain responsibility and control for the forensics equipment.
Code of professional conduct of the computer forensics professionals
- A significant legal challenge for the computer forensic investigators is they must do their work in an ethical and lawful manner especially when discovering any kind of incriminating evidence. If they fail to do this, then the evidence collected will not be admissible in the courtroom.
- Additionally, these forensic investigators should be knowledgeable of all the ethical and legal issues involved in their line of work. They must comprehend what adds up to the different laws governing securing and obtaining evidence, so that the evidence will not be comprised at all. They must also know what exactly forms the overall legal search of stand-alone computers as different to computers on a network (Nelson 122).
- On the other hand, the computer forensic investigator when giving out a testimony in a court room should find a way to prevail over the general lack of information that is in the court room setting. In such a case, the computer forensic investigator should deliver his or her testimony in an honest and professional manner, that is, without leaving any miniature detail.
- According to the ASCE Code of ethics, computer forensic investigators, when serving as expert witnesses in a courtroom, should only present their honest professional opinion only when it is instigated upon adequate knowledge of all the facts and upon a setting of technical proficiency.
- A computer forensics investigator’s testimony and findings can have detrimental effects on his or her professional reputation, on the business and on the personal lives of the parties who are indicted of a forensic crime (Nelson 145). For this basis, if the computer forensic investigator’s ethics in the whole investigation process and his or her advocacy or impartiality are very open to inquiry, then ethical considerations should be taken very seriously by his forensic investigators.
Therefore, during a forensic investigation, all the afro mentioned points are quite crucial since the computer forensic investigator is bound by the ethical considerations of the computer forensic practice. Moreover, the computer forensic investigator has a responsibility of being loyal to the clients within the scaffold of the forensic ethical practice, which places truth and honesty above all other ethical considerations in the computer forensic investigation field.
Nelson, Bill. Guide to Computer Forensics and Investigations. Boston, Mass: Thomson Course Technology, 2008. Print