How to Investigate a Cyber Crime

internet privacy
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In an age where internet-connected computers are everywhere, cyber-crime presents unique challenges to investigators, but it can almost always be solved successfully. The public’s widespread perception of online anonymity means that many cyber criminals leave an obvious path for law enforcement. Experienced investigators can usually track down even the most advanced perpetrators of online crime. Let’s take a look at modern law enforcement’s cyber-crime investigation process.

Beginning Investigation

After a victim of cyber-crime has filed a complaint with their local law enforcement detectives will search the IP, or internet address, of the suspect. If the crime occurred through a website, such as an online auction site or discussion forum, investigators may subpoena the site administrator to obtain logs of data that may identify the IP of the suspect or the computer they used. Otherwise, detectives will subpoena the suspect’s ISP, or internet services provider, to hand over logs of the criminal activity. According to white collar criminal attorney, Steven E. Kellis, time is of the essence in this situation, as ISPs vary widely in how long they keep logs of their users’ internet activity. Along with usage records, ISP information includes personal information that either belongs to the suspect or could lead investigators to him or her.

Inter-Agency Cooperation

According to our Philadelphia criminal attorney, one of the lures of the internet criminals is the capability of victimizing others from a long distance. This means that cyber-crime investigators frequently have to cooperate with law enforcement agencies in other states or countries in order to solve crimes. This prominent Philadelphia criminal defense attorney says that this is rarely a serious hurdle. As the Internet has risen to greater prominence in daily life, law enforcement agencies have adapted to working together to put cyber criminals behind bars. Once the appropriate agency has secured a warrant to search the criminal’s physical property, the investigation can move forward.

Computer Forensics

Some people think that law enforcement simply combs through the hard drive of each suspect in great detail, but this isn’t possible with the massive storage capacity of modern hard disks. As a result, computer investigation is done by highly specialized forensic investigators who know where to look for what they expect to find — whether they are seeking evidence of credit card fraud, computer hacking or child obscenity.

The investigator begins by making an exact copy of the suspect’s hard drive using special software, then carefully analyzing and documenting evidence using hardware that matches the suspect’s computer equipment.

International Cooperation

In the late nineties, investigators had a greater challenge pursuing suspects in other countries, but present-day law enforcement cooperates internationally to net criminals.

Even countries like Russia, once a haven for cyber criminals, works together with the United States and other countries to locate and apprehend perpetrators of cyber-crime.

Today, only the most advanced and lucky cyber criminals are successful at evading law enforcement for long. Virtually every crime committed online leaves a trail of evidence for investigators to follow. With the continuous advancement in modern technology, all cyber-criminals will eventually be brought to justice.

About the Author: Krista Langford is a blogger and a contributing writer for the office of Steven E. Kellis. Mr. Kellis specializes in Philadelphia white collar crimes which include computer hacking and theft, computer fraud, and internet theft.