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Ethics in Computer Forensics

Written by Darshan Karia

Computer forensics is an integral part of the widely increasing field of digital forensics, as with any investigative field there comes a time when ethical issues will arise, here we look at some of the ethical issues associated with computer forensics.


Computer forensics is the art of collecting, analysing, preserving and presenting digital evidence collected from a computer in a legally acceptable manner. The process of computer forensics is thus quite complex and involves various activities. Due care must be taken that the evidence is not altered or tampered with in any way. The role of the investigator is therefore crucial and any mistake on their part may put the whole investigation in jeopardy. To counter this problem the forensic investigator must follow the basic guidelines and rules suggested by ACPO and / or NIST.


The rules and guidelines provided by ACPO and NIST address the legal and technical issues but not the Ethical and Moral issues. These issues are not published but they form an integral part of professional life. Like every other profession, computer forensic investigations must also be conducted under an ethical framework.


Ethics in general is considered as “Behaviour of an individual with relation to something”. The legal dictionary [2] defines ethics as “The branch of philosophy that defines what is good for the individual and for society and establishes the nature of obligations, or duties, that people owe themselves and one another.”


The digital world has its own view of the term ethics, [3] “Ethics in computer forensics is a set of moral principles that regulate the use of computers; some common issues of computer forensics include IPR, Privacy Concerns and how computers affect society.”


Thus, almost all the definitions of ethics revolve around the principle of morality. By morality I mean the degree of conformity to moral principles. However, with respect to computer forensics, the definition provided by the digital world looks more relevant as it not only covers ethical and moral issues but digital issues as well. Therefore, some important areas in computer forensics must be identified where ethical and moral codes should be followed… see issue 5 for the rest of this article - subscribe now!


The full article appears in Issue 5 of Digital Forensics Magazine, published 1st Nov 2010. You must log in with a valid subscription to read on...


 
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