Thursday, April 06, 2006

Hard Drives Can Give You a Hard Time

Facts may be stubborn, but data is positively infuriating in the way it insinuates itself in computer hard drives. For those who have lost valuable information on their computers, a new industry has been developed by the sleuths that can track it down.

Digital Forensics, the acquisition and analysis of digital information, has become a significant legal tool. Important evidence can be gleaned from digital storage devices. Even when cell phone numbers are erased, the phone’s memory can still bare a trace of the number. Appointments on a device such as a Blackberry can provide information about a person’s schedule. TV shows, if recorded on TiVo, can reveal when a person was watching it or when they paused. Theoretically this evidence can be recovered.

Police were able to unmask a serial killer; using Guidence software’s Encase Forensic application they found erased files on a floppy disc that revealed his identity. The software was also used to assemble the case against Scott Petersen for his wife’s murder. Computer records revealed he had looked up tidal conditions in San Francisco Bay where his wife’s body was found.

Because files are easy to erase, it has lulled people into a false sense of security; the computer’s memory still retains the evidence. The computer is the ultimate witness.

Data never truly vanishes in the old fashioned sense of the word, and companies need to be mindful of the implications of this. If companies do their utmost to protect their companies and their staff and the integrity of their business dealings they can build a stronger business.

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