Computer Forensics – Criminal vs Civil – What’s The Difference?

In the field of computer forensics, as in the field of law, procedures in civil cases differ somewhat from those in criminal cases. The collection of data and presentation of evidence may be held to different standards, the process of data collection and imaging can be quite different, and the consequences of the case may have very different impacts.

A couple of quick definitions may be in order. Criminal law deals with offenses against the state – the prosecution of a person accused of breaking a law. Such offenses may of course include crimes against a person. A government body, or the representative of a government body accuses the person of having committed the offense, and the resources of the state are brought to bear against the accused. Guilty outcomes can result in fines, probation, incarceration, or even death.

Civil law covers everything else, such as violations of contracts and lawsuits between two or more parties. The loser in such a dispute often must give payment, property or services to the prevailing party. Imprisonment is not at issue in civil cases. As a result, the standard for evidence is not as high in civil cases as in criminal cases.

For the law enforcement computer forensics specialist, a certain amount of extra care should be taken in collecting data and producing results, for the standard of proof is higher. There are advantages on the data collection end, however. For once a court has authorized a search warrant, an officer (and possibly several) with badge and gun can go seize the defendant’s computer by surprise and by force. Once the computer has been seized and imaged, all data is accessible and may result in additional charges being brought against the defendant.

By contrast, in a civil case, there tends to be a lot of negotiation over what computers and what data can be inspected, as well as where and when. There is not likely to be any seizing of computers, and quite a long time may take place between the time the request to inspect a computer is made and the time the computer is made available to be inspected. It is common for one party to have access to a very limited area of data from the other party’s computer. During this time, a defendant may take the opportunity to attempt to hide or destroy data. The author has had several cases wherein the computer needed for analysis was destroyed before the plaintiff had the opportunity to inspect. Such attempts at hiding data are often discovered by the digital forensic sleuth, who may in turn present evidence of such further wrongdoing in expert witness testimony.

Opportunities for learning techniques and interacting with other professionals may differ as well. While some computer forensic software suites and training, such as Access FTK, EnCase, or SMART Forensics are available to most who can pay, others, such as iLook are available only to law enforcement and military personnel. While many support and professional organizations and groups are available to all, some, such as the High Technology Crime Investigation Association (HTCIA) are not open to professionals who provide for criminal defense (with a few minor exceptions).

When law enforcement has a case involving computer forensics, the intention is to locate enough data to find the defendant guilty in court, where the standard for information presented tends to be fairly high. From the time digital data or hardware is seized and acquired, Rules of Evidence must be kept in mind (Cornell University has the complete and voluminous code on its website). Law enforcement personnel must follow accepted procedures or evidence could be thrown out. Acquisition of data and discovery in criminal cases often must follow sometimes strict and differing procedures depending upon whether the jurisdiction is federal, state, or municipality and at times depending upon a judge’s preferences.

In a civil case, the initial processes of electronic discovery may be just to find enough data to show one or the other party whether they are likely to prevail, should the case go all the way to court. As such, the initial presentation of data may be fairly informal, and be just enough to induce the parties to settle the case. On the other hand, the data found may be so minimal the line of inquiry into electronic evidence is dropped.

Although we use many of the same tools, computer forensic professionals in private practice and those in law enforcement are held to different standards, have access to different resources, and their work results in substantially different outcomes between the criminal and civil cases to which they contribute.

Basic Checks Before Visiting a Computer Repair Center

Today, computers are everywhere. It’s difficult to ideate life without computers. Directly and/or indirectly, computers have really changed our lives. If you are a regular computer user, then you must have experienced different types of problems. It doesn’t matter if the problem is a minor or major, if it gives problem when you need it, it’s real frustrating. If your computer still covers warranty period, then it is not a problem. If the warranty period is already over, then you may need to take it to the computer repair center to fix it. Before you visit any computer repair center, there are some basic checks you must do to find what the problem might be:


First and foremost thing that can affect the health of computers are viruses. If you do not have an anti-virus, which is up to date, then your computer is prone to getting affected with these viruses and malwares. Usually, these viruses enter your system through internet downloads. If your computer is slow, unable to open local disks, or restarting for no reason, then most probably your computer is affected by viruses and malwares. If your anti-virus is not updated, it is advised to keep your anti-virus up to date. If the problem still continues, then you may need to visit a computer repair center where professionals can find out what the problem is.

Hardware Drivers

Computer hardware devices come with plug-and-play option and also with the drivers. A driver is software that allows the computer to identify and run hardware properly. Some of them are included in the OS and some are not. If any of your hardware is not working properly, then chances are that the drivers are not installed properly or are corrupted. When you try to connect any external device or hardware to your computer, it always asks for the driver. Almost all the hardware devices come with the driver. If you have not received one, check with the retailer or you can get it installed at computer repair center as they own driver CDs for all the major brands of computer.

Excessive Heating

Computers can be used for any long but it should have proper cooling system. All computers come with the fan attached to reduce the excessive heat it generates while it is on. When computers get overheated, chances are that it will cause it to malfunction. Computers must be kept in cool place. Clean the dust regularly so to allow proper air flow. Always check if the fan is working properly.

These are just some of the basic things you must check before visiting computer repair centers so that you know what to expect from them and get your computer into working condition soon.

What Is Computer Troubleshooting? Here Is Short Guide

The usage of the Internet not only provides you information and getting up to date rather it also poses you to security threat so it is of prime importance to stay assured of your personal computers security. If there is any threat that causes your system to malfunction you always can browse online for tips to troubleshoot your computer and make it healthy again by your own self instead of wasting your hard earned money for getting it done by professionals.

By taking small and basic steps you can ensure that your system is protected. Install anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall to stay protected. At the start when computers were invented the troubleshooting was not an easy task people spend lots of money to get it to keep going even if it needs a prick to work again. But with the passage of time computers emerged as reliable machines and become a vital part of daily life. Moreover, the rise of Internet and accessibility to information easily now common users can perform basic tasks to troubleshoot their computers all by themselves.

It’s your assignment and you have all in mind you just need to write the report but “duh” I switched on my Personal computer many times but it is not working. What to do? There are perhaps multiple reasons why your machine has ditched you but you can always check to fix it if the problem is minor in nature. Check the outlet if the plug is correctly inserting try running another electrical device from the same outlet to ensure its working or supplying power. Now my central processing unit is running but what happened to my monitor the screen is not visible and the power button is not blinking.

Check that all sockets are correctly inserted and power is supplied to it through CPU. If the power button is on and the screen is blank perhaps there is something wrong with your display of images. You perhaps need to get professional help or need to repair or install new video card to run it properly again. If the windows beta software is causing problems and giving error messages or shuts down unexpectedly.

Restart your system, scan your computer by running the anti-virus that has proved effective in past. If the problem still persists format your personal computer and reinstall windows from the recoverable compact disk. If there is any problem with running external device try updating the drivers after installing them correctly. Make sure they are compatible with the platform and plugged in correctly If the computer is moving with tortoise speed you need to clean the hard drives, cache, de-fragment the disks, scan your system occasionally, clean the registries and free your desktop from unused icons.

Perhaps increasing the size of physical RAM is also useful. If your Internet is working slowly attach the cables properly, make sure the firewall is not blocking the required application if so, change the settings and unblock the applications. Do clean your temporary Internet files and cookies for optimized speed

By following these tips you will only need to consult the professionals when your system is suffering from a major problem only saving your resources.