The Difference Between eDiscovery and Digital Forensics

Digital records are at the heart of most professional operations these days. Compiling, analyzing and using the ...

Digital records are at the heart of most professional operations these days. Compiling, analyzing and using the information kept on different servers and cloud services has a lot of value. There are two common ways to go about gathering and using this information: eDiscovery and digital forensics. Although some people use these terms interchangeably, they are different and have different functions.

  • eDiscovery and digital forensics are related fields that deal with electronic data collection, preservation and analysis for legal and investigative purposes.

  • eDiscovery is the process of finding and delivering electronically stored information in response to a legal request or investigation. 

  • Digital forensics is the process of identifying, collecting, preserving, and analyzing digital evidence for a criminal or civil case. 

  • eDiscovery requires tools such as AI, data processing and hosting platforms, email archiving, and text analytics, while digital forensics requires tools such as forensic imaging, file carving, network forensics, memory analysis, and cloud forensics tools.

Key Differences Between eDiscovery and Digital Forensics

unsplash - stock - legal team-2Digital forensics and eDiscovery are related fields that deal with the collection, preservation, and analysis of electronic data. Legal and investigative processes use both fields and offer a lot of benefits to companies. Knowing when to use which and how the processes may interact can open a world of possibilities.

What Is eDiscovery?

Also known as electronic discovery, eDiscovery is the process of finding and delivering electronically stored information, or ESI, in response to a legal request or investigation. This process plays a role in civil litigation, regulatory compliance, and internal investigations.

Legal teams identify relevant information that may be evidence in a case and produce that evidence in a format usable in court. Laws and rules such as the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Electronic Discovery Reference Model govern the process.

What Is Digital Forensics?

Digital forensics, on the other hand, is the process of identifying, collecting, preserving, and analyzing digital evidence in order to investigate and establish facts in a criminal or civil case. This process is often a part of criminal investigations, such as cases involving cybercrime, and can also play a role in civil litigation and internal investigations.

Digital forensics uncovers evidence for prosecuting a case and establishes the chain of custody for that evidence. Rather than civil guidelines, this process falls under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and the National Institute of Standards and Technology guidelines.

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What Are the Differences?

The most important difference may be the standards that are required for each process. Because digital forensics is often used in serious criminal matters. Collecting data in digital forensics has to follow a strict and well-documented process to guarantee that everything submitted is admissible. In eDiscovery, digital investigators are still careful but they don't have to meet such a high standard.

Another difference is the tools and techniques that each requires. The process for eDiscovery involves services such as data collection and processing, data analysis and review and data production. Digital forensics uses specialized forensic software and hardware, such as forensic imaging and analysis tools, as well as specialized techniques, such as memory analysis and network forensics.

Tools for eDiscovery

To get started with eDiscovery and digital forensics, you'll need the right tools. Here are some of the tools that you can employ to help make the eDiscovery process more efficient and cost-effective:

  • Artificial intelligence (AI): AI can help with tasks such as identifying and categorizing relevant ESI and reviewing the data for relevance. This can help save time and money and make the process more efficient.
  • Data processing and hosting platforms: These platforms provide secure storage and processing capabilities for ESI, making it easier to review and produce data.
  • Email archiving and management tools: These tools allow organizations to archive and manage their email data, allowing for easier identification and collection of relevant ESI.
  • Text analytics and keyword search applications: Organizations can identify and extract relevant information from large volumes of ESI by using natural language processing and keyword search capabilities.
  • Preservation and collection tools: These programs help preserve the integrity of electronically stored information and enable collection from various sources such as the cloud, servers, or personal devices.

Combining all of these tools into a cohesive process that gives you the results you're looking for will make your approach to eDiscovery more effective. Having proper data management with Cloudficient before you begin will also make things much smoother.

Tools for Digital Forensics

As you compare eDiscovery and digital forensics, you'll find you need to consider a different set of protocols for the digital forensics process.

  • Forensic imaging and duplication tools: Create exact copies of digital devices and media, preserving the integrity of the original data.
  • File carving programs: These tools recover deleted or fragmented files from a digital device, even if the file system is damaged.
  • File analysis apps: Analyze and extract data from various types of files, such as emails, documents, and images.
  • Hash comparison tools: Use these programs to compare the digital signature, or "hash," of a file against a known good file to ensure the integrity of the evidence.
  • Network forensics tools: These tools can capture and analyze network traffic, helping to identify and track malicious activity.
  • Registry analysis programs: These tools can analyze the Windows registry and extract information about software and hardware configurations, as well as user activity.
  • Memory analysis tools: Analyze the contents of a computer's memory to extract information about running processes, open network connections, and other activities.
  • Cloud forensics tools: These tools can extract information from cloud-based services.

You can see how the tools in digital forensics focus more on preserving exact records of digital activity. This makes sense given that this is a method used in situations with very high legal stakes.

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Put eDiscovery and Digital Forensics To Work

Many businesses will need to produce or request digital records at some point for financial or legal purposes. Both eDiscovery and digital forensics can be used to complement and support each other, leading to a more efficient and effective investigation. Work with Cloudficient to put the right tools in place for the best results.

With unmatched next generation migration technology, Cloudficient is revolutionizing the way businesses retire legacy systems and transform their organization into the cloud. Our business constantly remains focused on client needs and creating product offerings that match them. We provide affordable services that are scalable, fast and seamless.

If you would like to learn more about how to bring Cloudficiency to your migration project, visit our website, or contact us.

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