Glossary of digital forensics terms

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Digital forensics is a branch of the forensic sciences related to the investigation of digital devices and media. Within the field a number of "normal" forensics words are re-purposed, and new specialist terms have evolved.


The process of creating a duplicate copy of digital media for the purposes of examining it[1]


Computational forensics
Computational forensics are digital forensics with the use of artificial intelligence.


Digital media
Used within the fields to refer to the physical medium (such as a hard drive) or data storage device


E-discovery or eDiscovery
A common acronym for electronic discovery[2]
Digital media seized for investigation is usually referred to as an "exhibit"[2]


Within the field "hashing" refers to the use of hash functions (e.g. CRC, SHA1 or MD5) to verify that an "image" is identical to the source media[2]


A duplicate copy of some digital media created as part of the forensic process[3]
Synonym of "acquisition"[1]


Live analysis
Analysis of a piece of digital media from within itself; often used to acquire data from RAM where this would be lost upon shutting down the device[2]


Slack space
The unused space at the end of a file in a file system that uses fixed size clusters (so if the file is smaller than the fixed block size then the unused space is simply left). Often contains deleted information from previous uses of the block
The word steganography comes from the Greek name “steganos” (hidden or secret) and “graphy” (writing or drawing) and literally means hidden writing. Steganography uses techniques to communicate information in a way that is hidden.[4]


Unallocated space
Clusters of a media partition not in use for storing any active files. They may contain pieces of files that were deleted from the file partition but not removed from the physical disk[5]


A term used to refer to the hashing of both source media and acquired image to verify the accuracy of the copy


Write blocker
The common name used for a forensic disk controller, hardware used to access digital media in a read only fashion[3]


  1. ^ a b Maarten Van Horenbeeck (24 May 2006). "Technology Crime Investigation". Archived from the original on 17 May 2008. Retrieved 17 August 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d Various (2009). Eoghan Casey (ed.). Handbook of Digital Forensics and Investigation. Academic Press. p. 567. ISBN 978-0-12-374267-4. Retrieved 27 August 2010.
  3. ^ a b Casey, Eoghan (2004). Digital Evidence and Computer Crime, Second Edition. Elsevier. ISBN 0-12-163104-4.
  4. ^ SANS Institute (2003). "Steganalysis: Detecting hidden information with computer forensic analysis". Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  5. ^ Aaron Phillip; David Cowen; Chris Davis (2009). Hacking Exposed: Computer Forensics. McGraw Hill Professional. p. 544. ISBN 978-0-07-162677-4. Retrieved 27 August 2010.