As more people depend on technology for work and personal affairs, cybercrime has become a growing threat to individuals, corporations, government agencies, and more. Cybercrime has become so prevalent in today’s society that the FBI now publishes a list of cybercrimes’ “most wanted” in addition to the traditional “most wanted” criminal lists.
Law enforcement officers must now investigate true-life crime and cybercrime that Private Investigators are often hired to assist. Cybercrime investigation plays a significant part in keeping the internet safe, and specialists in this area with training in online investigation techniques are in high demand.
What Does a Cybercrime Investigation Involve?
Cybercrime is an illegal act that comprises a computer, mobile phone, or other electronic device connected to a network. These digital devices can be utilized to either initiate a cyber-attack against others or receive one from a malicious source.
In a cybercrime investigation, Private Investigators or other digital experts examine and recover important forensic electronic data from networks associated with the cyberattack. The goal of the inquiry is to discover the creators of the cyberattack and their real agenda.
Cybercrime investigators must have a thorough understanding of computer science along with how networks and hardware interact, including:
● File systems
● Operating systems
They establish how the interactions between these parts occur to understand what happened, why it happened, who was responsible, and how victims can avoid that type of cybercrime from happening again.
Who Performs Cybercrime Investigations?
Various organizations perform cybercrime investigations, depending on where it happened and the networks involved.
Criminal Justice Agencies
Criminal justice agencies handle campaigns on cybercrime prevention along with the investigation and prosecution of cybercriminals. Every country is different, but in the U.S., criminal justice agencies that investigate many digital crimes include:
● U.S. Secret Service
● The FBI
● U.S. Postal Inspection Service
● Internet Crime Complaint Center
● Federal Trade Commission
National Security Organizations
National security organizations typically investigate digital crime linked directly to the organization. For instance, an intelligence agency may be called to examine a cyberattack that has some relation to their organization, like one against its employees, networks, or digital files.
The U.S. military operates its own cybercrime investigations that employ qualified internal staff instead of depending on federal authorities.
Private Security Agencies
The military and national government organizations run their own servers and networks that make up a small amount of the overall digital infrastructure kept in operation by private companies and individuals worldwide. Private Investigators and cybersecurity specialists from security agencies take the lead in investigating cybercrime against networks and systems running on home-based computers and third-party private data centers.
Private Investigators from a private agency handle a wide variety of digital crime that may include:
● Identity theft
● Virus and malware distribution
● Social engineering
● Denial-of-service (DOS) attacks
What Techniques Are Used to Investigate Cybercrime?
The techniques used in cybercrime investigations vary depending on the type of crime and the person handling the investigation. However, a variety of popular methods are used to investigate most cybercrimes, especially in the beginning phases, that include:
Establishing the facts in the background of the digital crime helps investigators compose the initial cybercrime report. That provides a starting point to understand exactly how much they know, what they need to discover, and what kind of threat they’re facing.
A key component of any cybercrime investigation is gathering as much information as possible. Investigators will seek to uncover answers to questions like:
● Was it a human-based targeted attack or an automated attack?
● What was the full impact and scope of the attack?
● Could the attack have been performed by anyone, or only by an individual with special skills?
● Are there any potential suspects?
● What were the cybercrimes committed?
● Where can evidence be discovered?
Questions like these are essential matters to uncover during the information-gathering phase.
After the initial background of the cybercrime has been collected, investigators must analyze the digital systems that were impacted or implicated as the source of the attack, including:
● Hard drives
● Caching devices
● Network connection data
● File systems
After these systems are evaluated, a cybersecurity researcher pursues any leads, searching for digital fingerprints in networks, system files, web-browsing history, emails, and more.
Improve Your Investigation Techniques with NITA’s Online Courses
Cybercrime investigation techniques are ever-evolving as technologies become more sophisticated. Private Investigators interested in specializing in cybercrime can advance their professional development with the online courses at the National Investigative Training Academy, Inc. (NITA).
All courses are created for 100% student satisfaction and developed by industry professionals who have enjoyed rewarding careers in the investigative industry. Once enrolled, you can complete your course at your convenience, at any time, with 24/7 access to your course materials. To learn more about NITA’s professional development courses for Private Investigators, call 1-800-730-NITA (6482) or fill out our online contact form today.