The popularity of electronic devices is greater than ever, focusing more attention on the valuable data these devices hold. In legal matters, electronically stored information (ESI) is involved in nearly every matter, requiring ESI to be collected, searched, and interpreted. To ensure proper procedures are followed and the most up-to-date techniques are utilized, a digital forensics expert is often required. The expertise needed to accurately collect, examine, and report on digital evidence requires a skill level above and beyond the capabilities of most end-users or information technology personnel.
The term digital forensics originated from the term computer forensics and has been upgraded to include various devices that hold ESI other than computer systems. Digital forensics experts are now preserving and analyzing more mobile devices than computer systems.
Some examples of data found on both computers and mobile devices include electronic communications such as e-mail messages, instant messages (IMs), chats and text messages, databases, web-browser history, multimedia such as pictures, audio and video, configuration and activity logs, and third-party application data.
Some frequent sources of ESI include:
- Mobile phones
- USB flash drives and external hard drives
- Laptops, desktops, tablets (Surface Pro devices)
- Social media accounts
- Cloud storage
- Web-based or locally stored Email sources
- Email accounts (Microsoft 365)