Computer forensics - a subject every executive should understand

One of the least researched, but most important subject areas for the future of business is the field of computer forensics. It’s a huge area and a massive challenge for all organisations that rely on digital transactions.

In the past, long standing business partners would either trust each other, accept the facts of a printed audit trail, or simply succumb to the whims of a more important customer. Unfortunately, none of these options will work in the new business world of volatile business relationships with numerous, anonymous partners operating across complex supply chains.  

Modern business practice demands accurate, independent and assured verification of transactions. That means that executives at all levels in an organisation need to be streetwise about the validity, vulnerability and availability of audit trails and digital evidence. Given the current capability of hackers and fraudsters to deploy anti-forensic techniques, that’s a very tough call.
The starting point is to educate all business executives in the fundamentals of the subject area. It’s a difficult task but, fortunately, the briefing material is improving. I’ve been especially impressed with Peter Sommer’s excellent “Directors’ and Corporate Advisors’ Guide to Digital Investigations and Evidence“, produced for the UK Information Assurance Advisory Council”, an Institute which many years ago I helped to found and direct.

Not many company directors will have the patience to read and digest this guideline. But they should. Evidence of transactions underpins all modern business. In fact, amongst other things, an understanding of the validity of digital transactions will increasingly separate the real business men from the young apprentice boys.