What is Forensic Analytics?

The term “forensic analytics” is one that often evokes thoughts of deep investigation and sleuth happenings. While this concept is certainly one of investigative technique, there is much more to it than just that. Here are the basics of this curiosity-evoking subject.

Big Tech and Data World

It goes without saying that the world we live in today is full of digital information and technology. Years ago, all data records were put on paper and stored physically for use as needed. Now, the difference is that there is collectively far more information about, and its most common environs of storage and use are computers and digital technology as opposed to paper and ink.

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From time to time, in certain situations, this data must be culled for some investigative purpose. This purpose may be one of law enforcement concern or it may be one of personal, business function. Either way, in order to fully comb the depths of the often vast sums of digital info, there must be a system, or process used – a specialty investigative process.

Forensics Meet Big Data

This specialty investigative approach we speak of is what we call “forensic analytics”. Forensic science itself is defined as the use of sciences and technology as a matter of law and the pursuit of the discovery of some particular matter of fact. The forensic analytic field is therefore the use of such scientific and legally backed method in the pursuit of facts that must be discovered within digital data.

The process of gathering these facts can be straightforward and simple or extremely complex and timely. This all depends on many factors including the amount of data to be searched, the difficulty in identifying key pieces of data, data age and storage integrity, and even the use of deletion, movement, and intentional hiding in rare cases. As aforementioned, this process is also one that may be undertaken by law enforcement through the search and seizure of data, or it can be one of in-house investigation and answer-seeking for some matter of concern.

Examples in Action

A forensic data analyst for the FBI has just received a case. His task is to determine if illegal, inside trading has taken place within a stock trading company. The analyst finds a lot of information through basic data analysis of company computer drives and histories. The key info however, is found to be stored on an outside device owned by a company executive’s relative. There, it had actually been deleted, but through deep forensic analysis, file traces were resurrected, and proof of inside trading activity was found.

This hypothetical emulation of a real life happening illustrates law enforcement use of forensic data analysis. Another hypothetical example could be seen in a private business setting without any law enforcement involvement whatsoever. Here, our example company is a boat manufacturing company.

In this case, executives have reason to believe that someone at a manufacturing location is taking funds and altering records to hide it. Privately hired forensic analysts are then called in to process all data in digital form at the location. A different type of analysts or auditors will then review and gather key data that is found in non-digital form at the site. In the end, with all puzzle pieces joined, the company finds that although some mistakes were made in digital reporting, the officials at this manufacturing location actually did nothing meaningfully malicious.

Forensic data analysis is extremely important in this age of digital data and operations. Not only does law enforcement rely on its abilities, but so too do private companies themselves. These are the basics of this specialized field of data research and investigation that we call “forensic analytics”.