Written by Riley Anne Johns
As more people depend on technology for both personal and professional endeavors, digital forensics has never been more important. Digital forensics is a branch of forensic science specifically focused on cybercrime, using computer evidence to support investigations. And it is a field that is growing at a rapid speed: Its global market value is projected to reach $8.7 billion by 2027, from $4.7 billion in 2020.
As digital forensics continues to grow, so do the mounting challenges its professionals need to face. After all, there are still vulnerabilities in cybersecurity systems, especially when you consider human factors and intervention; those could lead to data leaks and errors. Understanding how both your employees and attackers think is the key to creating better defenses in digital forensics.
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The Link Between Digital Forensics and Psychology
Psychology has been integrated into digital forensics because of the need to look closely into the motivations of cybercriminals. With psychology and digital forensics, businesses can gain insight into how, why, and where cybercriminals hack their systems. Furthermore, a business can better protect its assets through the psychology of its people, learning where the internal vulnerabilities lie. Overall, psychology has become more significant in digital forensics because of the inimitable relationship everyday people have with digital data and what it adds to their digital fingerprints.
The relationship between digital forensics and psychology for these applications has led to digital forensic psychology becoming its own field. As remote arrangements become more commonplace, people need more cybersecurity and protection. As it happens, these remote arrangements have also helped boost the forensic psychology field in higher education through traditional and more recently online degrees. Online forensic psychology programs teach the fundamentals of abnormal psychology, cognition, laws, and social services. Such subjects prepare professionals for roles in corporations and establishments that require expertise in forensic psychology to operate in today’s digital landscape.
All this is crucial today as rapid digitization makes individuals and businesses more vulnerable to attackers. But it has also strengthened digital forensics, adding valuable psychological expertise into the discipline.
The Roles of Psychology in Digital Forensics
Profiling Cyber Attackers
Behavioral analysis methods rely on the assumption that certain principles can describe, explain, and even predict human behavior. This has been used in traditional criminal investigations successfully, and it can also be modified for cybercriminal cases. Understanding the behavior of cyber attackers involves considering cybercrime typologies, categories of cyber trespassing, and internet usage for attacks. Looking at these aspects can help create a profile for various attackers so that businesses can prepare appropriate defensive measures.
Understanding Organizational Vulnerabilities
Those within the organization may not realize their vulnerabilities. Addressing these risks starts with understanding people’s behavior. For instance, some people may not use passwords on their devices because they don’t realize the possible threats if someone else accesses their computer. Others may find extra protective measures to be cumbersome, such as the steps in setting up two-factor authentication.
Study your people and understand how they work. Get to know their needs and pain points. These will guide your priorities for training, courses, and certifications for digital forensics required of your personnel in charge of monitoring these security risks.
Psychology’s role in digital forensics lies in the fundamental understanding of people who use technology. Whether it’s learning the motivations of attackers or understanding ways users may put you at risk, the focus on psychology is crucial to success in this field.
Understanding Data with Perspective
Many examiners in the field are exploring the value of psychology in their perspective on the data. Having that type of background has brought a new perspective to the digital investigation. As more data that becomes part of digital forensics comes from social media, smartphones, and cloud-related data it reflects more of the minute to minute of the digital life of a potential suspect. Looking at the psychology behind that data can add a deeper perspective that can be valuable to an investigation.
No matter what perspective you can always add value to any investigation by looking at the human aspects that come from psychology. In addition to this valuable insight, consideration should also be made to the investigator’s psychology and health and wellness after the review of potentially harmful digital data.
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