It is difficult to pinpoint the first “computer forensic” examination or the beginning of the field for that matter. But most experts agree that the field of computer forensics began to evolve more than 30 years ago. The field began in the United States, in large part, when law enforcement and military investigators started seeing criminals get technical. Government personnel charged with protecting important, confidential, and certainly secret information conducted forensic examinations in response to potential security breaches to not only investigate the particular breach, but to learn how to prevent future potential breaches. Ultimately, the fields of information security, which focuses on protecting information and assets, and computer forensics, which focuses on the response to hi-tech offenses, started to intertwine..
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Over the next decades, and up to today, the field has exploded. Law enforcement and the military continue to have a large presence in the information security and computer forensic field at the local, state, and federal level. Private organizations and corporations have followed suit – employing internal information security and computer forensic professionals or contracting such professionals or firms on an as-needed basis. Significantly, the private legal industry has more recently seen the need for computer forensic examinations in civil legal disputes, causing an explosion in the e-discovery field.
The computer forensic field continues to grow on a daily basis. More and more large forensic firms, boutique firms, and private investigators are gaining knowledge and experience in the field. Software companies continue to produce newer and more robust forensic software programs. And law enforcement and the military continue to identify and train more and more of their personnel in the response to crimes involving technology.