Article:

The future of forensic data collections

24 June 2021

Stan Gallo, Partner, Forensic Services |
Quin Rijnders, Executive Director, Forensic Services |

The COVID-19 pandemic has sped up process digitisation and automation across many industries, and forensic services is no exception. When confronted with the onset of the pandemic last year, our practitioners had to find ways to avoid unnecessary travel.

In the ‘old world’, it was quite normal to be onsite, by the client’s side, for one or multiple days, collecting evidence directly off hardware. However, as organisation’s transition to working from home regularly, this approach is far less feasible. Organisation’s and forensic specialists alike have to innovate in order to remain effective.

Remote data collections in forensic services

Recent technological advancements have already seen forensic work move to more flexible infrastructure, such as cloud based data hosting.

In order to conduct our forensic services within laboratories, secure ways of logging on remotely had to be identified and implemented to enable flexible work practices. However, at the start of COVID-19, there wasn’t yet a ready-made solution for the evidence collection phase of our work.

In collaboration with software vendors, BDO’s Forensic Services team identified an approach to deploy lightweight digital agents on our clients’ networks, to carry-out targeted forensic data collections. These newly enhanced digital collections are customisable and far more targeted than the previous ‘physical’ onsite collections.

This approach is a tremendous boost for our client’s sensitive matters, providing time and cost savings as digital agents run in the background, reducing onsite hours. 

Innovation beyond data collection

Given the success of these remote collections, our approach was extended to tackle the common ‘man-in-the-middle’ compromise on client email systems.

Given many clients use cloud based email solutions, which also accommodates user activity logging, our team of specialists developed scripts to extract evidence to assist in identifying business email compromises in Microsoft Office 365 environments.

These scripts bundle the relevant logs into a secure package at a specified location, automating the extraction of relevant insights and providing valuable information regarding the business email compromise, in the shortest timeframe possible. 

All work and results are completed to a repeatable and defensible quality standard while remaining cost effective and time efficient.

The future of data collection for forensic services

While COVID-19 spurred the developments of these innovative data collection practices, we envisage continued evolution well beyond this sphere.

These new remote practices are more efficient, better value and at times more robust than the former ‘manual’ ways of collecting evidence.

Should you want to discuss options for remote data collections, reach out to our team of dedicated forensic technology professionals.