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News

New York Company Set up to assist lawyers in computer forensics

Digital Forensic Group : 28 October, 2009  (Company News)
Digital Forensics Group to provide e-Discovery and IT Forensics services to the New York legal profession
Electronic evidence gathered from computer hard drives, laptops, e-mails and networks plays a major role in the outcome of many civil litigation cases today. To aid attorneys recover, preserve and investigate electronic evidence in a manner that meets modern court evidentiary requirements, The Digital Forensic Group has been launched in New York City.

Companies today commit less than 35 percent of all records to paper and more than 90 percent of all new information is generated electronically, according to Legal Technology News. The amount of work required to meet an electronic discovery request can be overwhelming for law firms and corporate legal teams, said Douglas A. Brush, founder of the Digital Forensic Group and its principal computer forensic investigator. Courts also are less tolerant of excuses made by a litigant when electronic evidence submission is delayed or handled improperly.

"Today whenever civil litigation is filed, electronic evidence such as e-mail, documents, spreadsheets or other form of computer data exists which can strengthen or weaken a case," said Brush. "As a result, one of the most critical aspects of litigation is the electronic evidence collection process."

A greater proportion of cases are being settled prior to trial these days because frequently a "smoking gun" piece of electronic evidence will be produced in discovery which dramatically favors one side and can have a powerful effect on forming the opinion of a judge or jury.

But it is not just the files in plain view on a computer or server that are important, these cyber sleuths recover data from system RAM or that is deleted, hidden and password protected. "When a file is deleted from your computer, portions or even the entire file can remain and be recovered," said Brush. "People often don't realize the digital tracks they leave behind every time they sit in front of a computer. We have the forensic programs that recover data and even crack files with passwords."

This leads to a digital blend of art and science that requires analytical problem solving skills, specialized tools and proper documentation. Appropriate observation of chain of custody issues (who had possession of the data and when) as well as adhering to federal and state laws governing electronic evidence admission also play a critical roles.

"If the courts have any reason to doubt the veracity of the evidence, they are most likely going to throw it out," said Brush. "It is critical to maintain an impartial view and only report the truth. Cases stand on the legs of the collection process, evidence preservation and data reporting; that's where we come in." These computer investigators believe that it is important to stand behind the findings and will testify in court or depositions as expert witnesses.
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