Digital Forensics Tutorial: The Ultimate Guide

This Digital Forensics Tutorial focuses on identifying, analyzing, and reporting on the digital activities of users from digital footprints:

People leave digital footprints when using a computer. The footprints are in the form of browser history, cookies, timestamps, and log files. In addition, digital footprints can be in the form of file fragments, headers, and metadata.

Cybersecurity professionals can track online activities through a digital forensic investigation.

But what is digital forensics? How do experts carry it out? You can learn the answers by reading this informative tutorial.

Digital Forensics – A Complete Review

Digital Forensics Tutorial

Market Trends: The digital forensic market size was $4.5 billion in 2019. The market size is expected to grow to $9.45 billion by 2027.

The following graph shows the increase in the global digital forensic market size between 2017 and 2027:

Digital Forensics Market Size

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Expert Advice: Digital forensic is generally used in investigating cybercrime. It involves attribution and identifying online breaches and other malicious activities.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q #1) What is digital forensics?

Answer: Digital forensic is a branch of Forensic Sciences that focuses on identifying, analyzing, and reporting on the digital activities of users. The activity is used by cybersecurity professionals to trace online criminal activities.

Suggested Reading =>> Top leading Cyber Security Companies

Q #2) What is INTERPOL Digital Forensics Laboratory?

Answer: The INTERPOL Digital Forensics Laboratory (DFL) provides specialized forensic assistance in tracing global online criminal activities. The team at the DFL offers operational support, guidance, and capacity building for member countries.

Q #3) What is the goal of digital forensics?

Answer: Digital forensic aims to extract actionable intelligence from digital footprints. The findings are used to trace the culprits responsible for an online attack. Evidence gathered from certified digital forensic experts is admissible in court.

Q #4) How much money does digital forensics make?

Answer: A survey carried out online found that digital forensic investigators earn an average yearly salary of $63,600.

Q #5) What are the types of digital forensics?

Answer: It is of many different types depending on the type of digital medium being investigated. The common types include Network Forensics, Disk Forensics, Wireless Forensics, Malware Forensics, Database Forensics, Memory Forensics, and Email Forensics.

Digital Forensic Process: An Overview

1IdentificationDetermine the goal of the investigation
Ascertain resources required to carry out the investigation
2PreservationIsolation and security of data
3AnalysisUse digital forensic tools to process preserved data
Interpret the results
4DocumentationDocumenting the analysis and results
5PresentationPresentation of data using crime-scene maps, sketches, and snapshots of online criminal activities

Investigation of Digital Footprints

Digital forensics is carried out to identify and trace online criminal activities. An investigation will be done to assess the following incidents:

Digital forensics can be internal that is carried out by corporations to find out criminal cases within the organization. It can also be external to trace the culprit behind a hacking incidence affecting a company’s operations.

In addition, digital forensics can also be civil or criminal. A civic forensics investigation is conducted when one party sues another for intellectual property theft. Meanwhile, criminal digital forensic is carried out to identify a criminal wing responsible for illegal activities, such as the distribution of child porn or breach of confidential data.

Steps Involved in Digital Forensics

The digital forensic investigation consists of a series of steps to investigate online criminal activity.

The first step involves determining the scope or goal of the investigation. The next step is the preservation of data to ensure that evidence of the attack remains untouched. This involves working on copies of the original data to ensure that future investigations can be carried out to assess the digital footprint.

Analysis of preserved data is carried out using specialized digital forensic tools. The tools are used to extract information from the infected network or file.

Once the investigation is completed, digital forensic experts must document the findings. They only record critical information that can help in making an accurate assessment of the attack.

The last stage of digital forensics is the presentation of the findings of the report. The presentation is in the form of graphs, reports, and pictures. The findings are presented to help law enforcement agents and corporate executives determine the source of the attack. Digital evidence can also be presented in court to incriminate an individual or group.

Responsibilities of Digital Forensics Investigators

Digital forensic experts help organizations and government agencies track online criminal activities.

Some of the responsibilities of digital forensic experts include the following:

  • Incident response.
  • Determining infected networks, apps, and files.
  • Analyzing digital footprints to identify the nature and source of the attack.
  • Preserving digital footprints.
  • Documenting the results of the digital forensic investigation.
  • Providing expert witness in court.

NIST SP 800-86 Digital Forensic Standard

NIST SP 800-86 guides cybersecurity professionals and organizations to carry out incident responses using forensic techniques.

The standard aims to help in investigating and resolving online threats. It offers guidance for carrying out digital forensics investigations. The standard provides guidance on addressing cybersecurity-related issues from an IT expert perspective rather than a legal perspective.

The standard for digital forensics is developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The purpose of introducing the standard is to inform about the various effective techniques to investigate online threats.

NIST SP 800-86 contains information on the basic steps involved in data forensics that include the following:

  • Data collection
  • Examination
  • Analysis
  • Reporting
  • Recommendation

NIST standards also specify techniques for collecting through a forensic toolkit. Some of the tools recommended by the NIST standard for digital investigation include file viewers, graphical directory structures, SHA-1, and MD5 algorithms. The standards also recommend performing pattern matches and string searches to find out about online threats.

Metadata analysis is also a recommended technique for carrying out digital forensics. The metadata of files can provide important information, such as when the file was last accessed, date stamps, and any user-defined comments.

NIST standard for digital forensic investigation also guides analyzing network performance. It offers advice on analyzing traffic security event management software and network analysis tools.


Digital forensic involves identifying, isolating, and preserving digital criminal activities. Investigations carried out by digital forensics experts can prove invaluable in preventing cybercrimes.

You can pursue a career in digital forensics by completing a cybersecurity degree specializing in digital forensics. Digital forensic experts can be employed in different fields. They can be part of a cybersecurity team of corporations and government law enforcement agencies, such as the INTERPOL Digital Forensics Laboratory, and also become private digital forensic investigators.

Digital forensic can help prevent future incidents of online attacks. In this increasingly connected world, the risks posed by cyber-attacks are high. Digital forensics experts actively participate in addressing online attacks.


Research Process:

  • Time Taken to Research this Article: It took us about 5 hours to research and write this tutorial on Digital Forensics.