Computer Forensics History

The history of computer forensics can be traced to back to the 1970s when military investigators started finding instances of computer-related criminal activity and needed a more comprehensive approach for solving these technical crimes. Many computer forensics degree and training programs now include a History of Computer Forensics course so that students can learn about how this industry developed, and what types of security breaches and cybercrimes have affected individuals and businesses over time. This field did begin in the United States as government personnel realized that they would need investigative protocol to solve cybercrimes and criminal activities related to computers.

Timeline of the History of Computer Forensics

The official timeline for the history of computer forensics begins in 1984 when the FBI Magnetic Media program was created. This program was later known as the Computer Analysis and Response Team (CART) which is still in existence today. It wasn't until 1995 that the International Organization on Computer Evidence (IOCE) was formed, and many criminologists and crime scene investigators were able to join after training in the field of computer forensics. Since the mid-90s, the field of computer forensics has grown rapidly and law enforcement personnel are often trained in the field of cybercrime and Internet investigative techniques at some point in their career.

Studying the History of Computer Forensics

Most computer forensics degree programs include at least one history of computer forensics course to help students understand the brief history and background of the growing field. You may be able to take a history of computer forensics course online or offline, depending on the school you attend.

Most courses on this topic cover some of the key events and facts surrounding three points throughout the rise of computer forensics: the ad-hoc phase, the structured phase, and the enterprise phase.

The ad-hoc phase can be characterized as the stage when officials realized that there was a need for some type of formal investigation in the field of cybercrimes and computer-related crimes, but there was a lack of structure, clear goals and adequate tools and processes to achieve any goals. There were also many legal issues surrounding the gathering and handling of digital evidence.

The structured phase can be characterized as the development of a more complex solution for computer forensics. This would include accepted procedures, tools that were developed specifically to solve computer-related problems, and the enabling of some type of criminal legislation to support the use of digital evidence when solving a crime. The structured phase appeared right around the mid-80s when the CART and other entities were authorized to handle various types of cybercrimes.

The enterprise phase is the current state of the computer forensics industry, and is the most advanced of all phases. At this level, computer forensics is considered to be an actual science and involves the real-time collection of evidence, the development of effective tools and processes, and the use of structured protocol and procedures. Forensics is now offered as a service to many companies and entities in need of investigative support in the digital field.