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Challenges to Digital Forensics: A Survey of Researchers & Practitioners Attitudes and Opinions
Al Fahdi M, Clarke NL, Furnell SM
Proceedings of ISSA (Information Security South Africa), Johannesburg, 14-16 August, ISBN:978-1-4799-0809-7, 2013

Digital forensics have become increasingly important as an approach to investigate cyber- and computer-assisted crime. Whilst many tools exist and much research is being undertaken, many questions exist regarding the future of the domain. Indeed, prior literature has widely published the challenges that exist within the domain, from the increasing volume of data (e.g. SANs, hard drive capacities, databases) to the varying technology platforms and systems that exist (e.g. tablets, mobile phones, embedded systems, cloud computing). However, little effort has focused upon understanding the reality of these challenges. The paper presents research that seeks to identify, quantify and prioritise these challenges so that future efforts can be concentrated on the issues that actually affect the domain. The study undertook a survey of researchers and practitioners (both law enforcement and organisational) to examine the real-challenges from the perceived challenges and to understand what effect the future will have upon the digital forensic domain. A total of 42 participants undertook the study with 55% having 3 or more years of of experience. 45% were academic researchers, 16% law enforcement and 31% had a forensic role within an organisation. Overwhelmingly, 93% of participants felt that the number and complexity of investigations would increase in the future. Apart from the plethora of findings elaborated in the paper, the principal future challenge priorities included cloud computing, anti-forensics and encryption. Respondents also identified, improving communication between researchers and practitioners and the need to develop approaches to identify and extract “significant data” through techniques such as criminal profiling as essential. Interestingly, participants did not feel that the growth in privacy enhancing technologies nor legislation was a significant inhibitor to the future of digital forensics.

Al Fahdi M, Clarke NL, Furnell SM