Home > Articles > Security > Software Security

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

15.3 Evidence Collection and Chain of Custody

A critical part of any computer forensic investigation is ensuring proper evidence collection and proper maintenance of the chain of custody of the evidence collected. Positive control is the phrase most often used to describe the standard of care taken in the handling of potential evidentiary material (e.g., suspect computer systems, hard drives, and any backup copies). You need to be sure that you can identify the who, what, when, where, how, and why of each piece of evidence or material that you collect during the investigation:

  • Who. Who handled the evidence?

  • What. What procedures were performed on the evidence?

  • When. When was the evidence collected and/or transferred to another party?

  • Where. Where was the evidence collected and stored?

  • How. How was the evidence collected and stored?

  • Why. For what purpose was the evidence collected?

If evidence must change hands multiple times, you may have a very long list of information to keep track of here.

At the beginning of the investigation in this case study we identified approximately 20 systems that required computer forensic analysis. Working with the client's IT department, however, we learned that the computers belonging to the people being investigated had recently been refreshed, and the old computers were still at the client site. That meant that we had to maintain positive control over approximately 40 computer systems.

The auditors on the team had already procured temporary office space near the client location to serve as the headquarters of the investigation. Because the investigative team members came from multiple firms, we needed a convenient space in which to work, and we certainly needed to be close to the client. The office space included a couple of offices that could serve as interview rooms, as well as a large conference room that would be the primary workspace. Before the team moved into that conference room, we had a locksmith install a new lock on the conference room door. (We joked that the owner of the facility might not be too happy that we were changing their locks, but the case warranted such action.) Only three keys to this door were produced, and all of them were marked "Do Not Copy." The keys were given to two of our investigators and the lead attorney. We all agreed to return the keys to the property owner at the end of the engagement.

The lead attorney expressed a lack of confidence in having the team's work papers secured by a simple door lock. The latch on the lock was so exposed that most of the team felt that any determined person could break into the room by simply using a credit card or wire coat hanger to move the latch away from the door frame and open the door. The security team was asked if anything else could be done to secure the room.

To add an extra layer of security, we recommended installing a miniature camera with a radar-based motion detector. The camera recorded to an extended-play VHS recorder and was turned on after hours, on weekends, and whenever any fewer than three team members were in the room. With the camera in place, we could monitor anyone entering, moving within, or leaving the room. We selected the radar-based motion detector because we needed to hide the entire apparatus in the conference room. During the day, many client personnel, including suspects, entered our room as a normal course of business, and we did not want any of them to know that the camera had been installed, so it needed to be out of sight. Further, if someone were to break into our room after hours, it was less likely they would uncover our camera and motion detector than if we had used an infrared-based motion detector that could not be hidden.

With the motion detector in place, the camera would automatically turn on when someone entered the room (and we wouldn't be recording hours and hours of no activity). For an extra level of protection, we added a battery backup to the camera and recorder in case power was cut to the room; our camera would run for an additional 60 hours on this battery (to cover a full weekend). In cases of fraud—especially when the dollar amounts involved start to rise—you don't take chances.

15.3.1 Take Your Hands off That Keyboard and Slowly Back Away

With the room secure, we proceeded to gather the computers and computer paraphernalia from the suspects. Several liaisons from the client's physical security team worked with us during this process. Their assistance proved an effective means of obtaining computer systems from company personnel (employees and executives), because those personnel were not expecting our request and were not prepared to resist the company's own physical security department. The fact that someone from the corporate security team was doing the confiscating made the process of turning over a computer system fairly tolerable. After all, yell all they might, the employees really had no choice. We needed this to be an exceptionally quick process because we wanted to mitigate the risk of anyone deleting pertinent files or e-mail from the systems we wanted to obtain. Therefore, we made the collection all at once, creating teams equal to the number of suspects.

Once the computers and all paraphernalia had been obtained by the liaison, with someone from our team present, we utilized a tracking form (see Figure 15.1) to ensure that we properly documented the chain of custody. Both team members (liaison and forensic investigator) signed our tracking form, as did the suspect. If anyone refused to sign the form, the refusal was noted and a witness (another employee who happened to be in the area) was asked to sign. (When faced with the threat of involving a witness, most suspects quietly signed.) This process was repeated when the computer was returned to the client.

15fig01.gifFigure 15.1 Chain of Custody Tracking Form

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020