Computer forensics involves collecting evidence in situations where digital information is compromised. Computer forensics scientists assess digital media to identify, preserve, recover, analyze, and present facts about the information under investigation. Many firms across the world are spending huge amounts of money on an annual basis to ensure that their computer systems are protected against intrusion, which might lead to loss of essential information.
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Various approaches, such as consolidation of operating systems, installation of firewalls, and adoption of security polices, are used. However, if criminals unlawfully access protected computer networks, companies are required to sue them in courts of law. That notwithstanding, there should be credible evidence that should be presented in a court to support a case in relation to an intrusion.
Otherwise, such evidence becomes inadmissible, implying that a firm would lose such the case. Thus, it is of great importance for firms to meet legal requirements in the collection and preservation of digital evidence that can be admissible in a court of law. This paper focuses on discussing legal rules and requirements in the context of computer forensics laboratories in Maryland State. It is imperative to note that the discussion is with regard to the endeavors of XYZ, Inc. to become the leading firm offering computer forensic services in the US.
In this context, a forensics laboratory is a place where evidence is stored, and investigations are conducted. Thus, it would be typified by desktops, forensic workstations, laptops, and legacy software, among others. In order for XYZ, Inc. to collect digital evidence that can be used successfully in a court of law, it should meet certain legal requirements and rules, which are often complex, depending on the states involved. That notwithstanding, it should be emphasized that some legal codes are generally applied within the United States.
It is suggested that legal requirements should enable professionals to execute systematic analyses that provide fast and accurate solutions to problems that are associated with digital information. It is vital for the firm to develop some goals that should be accomplished in relation to the newly established computer forensics laboratory. The goals would take into consideration legal rules that should be adhered to, both in the short-term and long-term.
One of the requirements that XYZ, Inc. should adopt is with regard to laboratory certification. The management should aim at utilizing rules that are developed by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors (ASCLD). This is one of the leading not-for-profit organizations in the US that help firms and individuals interested in forensics. It is composed of highly trained persons who work in different companies. The management of XZY, Inc. needs to apply for accreditation from the ASCLD, which would only be offered upon meeting legal rules in relation to establishing a forensics laboratory.
In addition, the accreditation body would offer personnel of the firm crucial trainings that would improve their performance outcomes. For example, workers would be taught about the legal importance of collecting, storing, and analyzing digital evidence. Furthermore, such trainings would emphasize on the negative impacts that would result from conducting computer forensic investigations that would not founded on the platforms of the law. Thus, it would be critical for the firm to obtain an accreditation, and to have its personnel educated about various aspects of computer forensics laboratories.
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In the US, there are no bodies that that give licenses to individuals that participate in forensic examinations. However, it is notable that some states have adopted some licensing requirements for professionals in the field of private investigations. In fact, computer forensic professionals are classified as private investigators. That notwithstanding, it is vital to contend that there is little resemblance between the work of private forensic assessors and the work of computer forensic examiners. Some of the states that have legal rules governing private examiners’ licensing include Michigan, Illinois, and Oregon. However, Maryland State does not have such requirements, implying that private investigators can start operating without obtaining licenses.
In the context of Maryland, the following information is vital in relation to standards, inspections, and compliance:
Set standards and requirements
The secretary of the licensing body is required to adopt regulations that define and explain the standards that should be met by forensic laboratories. In fact, for a license to be offered, the secretary should be satisfied that XYZ, inc. meets the legal requirements that are contained in various documents. This goes a long way in ensuring that citizens are subjected to safe and accurate services that are based on the platforms of the law. The regulations require:
- The management teams of firms to establish and administer regular quality assurance programs that are acceptable to the secretary.
- The directors of forensic laboratories to maintain all case files for a minimum of ten years.
- The establishment of workers’ qualifications.
- The establishment of procedures that would be applied in the verification of backgrounds and training levels of staff of computer forensic laboratories.
- The secretary to suggest fees that should not exceed both direct and indirect costs that are outlined in other legal provisions.
- The establishment of additional standards, which the secretary may consider important in the provision of accurate and reliable computer forensic services.
Forensic proficiency testing
XYZ, Inc. would be required to demonstrate high levels of quality in relation to approved proficiency testing, especially that which would be related to a particular analysis being conducted. In this context, the secretary is required by the law to utilize regulations in proficiency testing. The standards define appropriate testing performance approaches. In addition, they should set the rules that should be followed by the forensics laboratory. It is also recommended that appropriate departments should review forensics laboratory proficiency assessments. The reviews would go a long way in ensuring the best outcomes.
From a legal perspective, inspectors aim at ensuring that legal rules and requirements are met by firms. In this context, XYZ, Inc. would be required to apply for an inspection that would culminate in a license. Due to the fact that the firm has one laboratory, only one inspection would be conducted.
In order for the secretary to ensure compliance with the established legal standards and requirements, he or she would be required to perform a compliance investigation that should not be influenced by the management of the firm. Finally, he or she is required by the law to perform a validation survey of the laboratory to ensure that the expected outcomes are achieved.
Although the discussed legal requirements and rules are in the context of Maryland State, some legal codes are generally applied in the US, for example, the US Code Title 28 and Rule 803(6). The two legal provisions offer critical considerations that should be used to make log files accepted in a court of law. Another important aspect to note vis-a-vis admissibility of digital log files is that they should not be altered. Issues of alterations can also be prevented by adopting effective storage approaches and encryption of information.
Generally, users’ expectations of privacy should be considered by the firm. The only way that XYZ, Inc. can establish that users do not have right to privacy is by using a logon banner with regard to computer systems and/or networks. CERT Advisory CA-1992-19 is important in addressing the issue of right to privacy, which is a legal requirement. XYZ, Inc. should also ensure that its workers adhere to security policies in a legal manner. This can be facilitated by emphasizing on the importance of workers signing policy documents that they read and understand.
In conclusion, this paper has demonstrated that legal requirements and rules are crucial in the context of computer forensic laboratories. XYZ, Inc. needs to consider the legal conditions discussed in this paper so that it can offer services that are within frameworks of the law. In fact, the management should focus on adopting the legal platforms that are applicable in Maryland State and the US. It is recommended that regular evaluations should be conducted within the company to assess the extent to which it follows the law in relation to the provision of computer forensic services. Thus, it will become a leading firm in the US that will provide customers with excellent computer forensic services.