February 8, 2021
Digital forensics is a forensics science focusing on data found online and on digital devices. In today’s digital world, digital forensics is a critical part of effective online investigations, allowing investigators to collect data and gather evidence, recover deleted files, and access content on the dark web. When applying digital or cyber forensics to an investigation, efficacy relies on a balance between best-practice techniques and technology.
One of the main issues investigators encounter when attempting to gather evidence from the internet is the sheer volume of information available. The surface web on it’s own includes massive amounts of data from websites, forums, and social media. Even more content and data lies in the deep and dark web, often used by threat actors to conduct illegal activity. This makes dark web intelligence both difficult to collect and absolutely invaluable for investigations. Investigators require access to the information contained on the dark web in order to follow the trail of criminals operating through it and to gain a greater understanding of their movements and motivations. This makes dark web monitoring a crucial aspect of collecting evidence in digital investigations that require advanced cyber security intelligence.
Digital forensic tools in the form of internet monitoring software have the capacity to collect data from a wide range of sources and provide dark web monitoring services. These tools allow investigators to monitor the dark web and can identify cyber threats coming from all layers of the internet as well as generate user alerts when significant information is identified. Digital forensic tools can also collate this information into reports which may be used for actionable insights or evidence in trials.
These tools are not just effective for collecting and analyzing data found on the dark web, but can access any information located on sources which are publicly available, also known as Open Source Intelligence or OSINT.
In addition to gathering information, web application monitoring tools can even be used to preempt crimes. Advanced monitoring tools, or OSINT tools, have the capability of analyzing content from OSINT websites, such as various social media platforms. These tools use social analytics features to gain social media insights, draw conclusions, and provide information which can be used proactively to prevent crimes such as cyber threats, fraud, and even terror attacks before they occur.
The most advanced of these monitoring tools operate on highly sophisticated algorithms in order to identify information on message boards and social media platforms of various languages. Additionally, they are able to present data in readable forms such as graphs or generate alerts when relevant information crops up to enable faster response times in time-sensitive investigations and cases that rely on cyber intelligence.
Having such crucial information at their fingertips allows law enforcement to take proactive steps, not only in crime investigation, but in crime prevention as well.