Database Forensics and Auditing

Database Forensics and Auditing

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Abstract

The increase of databases as a form of storing data has been triggered by the rise in criminal activity. Forensic database auditing is involved in curbing these criminal activities and detecting the offenders. There are tools and techniques, which assist in this task and research for better methods is ongoing. However, the major challenge facing forensic database auditing is having few tools to do their work. These forensic database-auditing tools are used differently according to the case. There are those used in murder, cyber and other types of crimes.

Database Forensics and Auditing

Introduction

There are many cases of crime committed digitally. This has made forensic personnel invent methods, which can recover data for evidence. Some of the methods used are generating data, warehousing and mining data. A statistical method accompanies this process. It analyzes the validity of the data recovered and its reliability. However, it might prove difficult to apply this method on devices like mobile phones because they are proprietary. The Daubert process is not wholly reliable because it is still being tested. Experts are evaluating it to reduce its error rate.

Research methods and results

The research methods used were both primary and secondary. This includes books, scholarly journals and other articles. The primary methods were interviewing and using questionnaires. The interviewees were from the department of forensics and accounting firms. It was not possible to get all the relevant information because some information is classified. Some IT firms also assisted in explaining the available tools in forensics. The data collected was analyzed and it has been discussed.

Discussion

Forensics databases are currently being used in wildlife forensics. Wildlife services are using these databases to protect wildlife. For instance, if it is a poaching offense, the forensics experts will study the scene and identify details of the animals victimized. These databases enable forensic experts to pin point offenders who violate the laws and regulations of wildlife (Platt, 2005). They are able to extract evidence and present in court. This has enabled them to reduce wildlife offences like poaching, illegal animal trafficking and other offenses.

Forensic database tools are developing and becoming more sophisticated in doing their work. Tools as drivers are used to open files and retrieve important information when recovering data or solving crime. It is important for forensic experts to know that, as the development of forensic database advances, they should acquire those skills and knowledge for them to continue the advancement. The computer technology helped forensic experts to improve their expertise and make inventions (Li, Chang-Tsun & Anthony, 2011).

Forensic database is used for investigating and studying crime. There are several current methods of database forensics. Integrated Ballistic Identification System is a current trend used by the bureau of firearms and explosives. This database collects bullets and casings of cartridges taken from scenes of crime. There has to be a suspected gun in order to make comparison. A bullet from test fire gun has to be compared with the one from the scene of crime or a suspect. If the result is positive, the images will be clean with all the characteristics (Li, Chang-Tsun & Anthony, 2011).

Database forensics is faced with threats and challenges. It can be tampered if a person needs to sabotage. For example, database servers are installed with logs for security purposes. It is possible to hack these logs and interfere with the databases. For instance, the government requires certain compliance to standards of goods and services. A perpetrator can bypass the logos of such databases and adjust them as they wish. Companies are also at a risk of incurring losses if a perpetrator accesses their product database and changes the costs or prices.

Another major challenge facing forensic databases is keeping up with technology. Forensic databases can only be effective if the experts are using the most updated technology. The forensics laboratory should be complex for competent technical analysis. To solve this problem, the National Institute of Justice and other relevant agencies hold frequent workshops and meeting to discuss possible solutions to this problem (Champlain, 2001). They try to come up with a cost effective budget since there is also a strain of finances. The equipment used must be reliable, affordable and if need be, it should be portable. It enables investigators to be effective in their work.

Forensic databases are changing and improving rapidly. New technology is being introduced often and forensic personnel need to be updated. The Forensic community has realized training is an essential element of their program. Continuing education has been provided to these professional to enable them in the efficiency of their work. The training program includes learning the latest methods of forensic database, learning to work with new equipment and other developed techniques. This has helped them improve in solving crime cases as well as curbing them.

Cyber crime is one of the biggest problems faced by computer technology. Malicious people commit offenses for various reasons. This has made forensics professionals to come up with forensics databases to solve cyber crimes. These databases can discover, analyze and information, which is evidence of cyber crime. Unlike the traditional forensic method, the current databases focus on getting evidence online and in real time basis. The traditional method used to extract information offline, which was less effective. Other tasks of these databases are to recover deleted files or lost data and information. It also preserves the evidence acquired to present in court (Platt, 2005).

Forensic auditing involves investigating financial statements to detect a criminal offense. Companies and business may be involved in elite crime. Forensic auditing uses it tools and techniques to reveal such offenses. Most of the common tools used are software. For example, Linux is open source software applicable in forensic auditing. Some of the software can be for specific tasks like mortgage audit. However, many of them are customized to perform general tasks. The programs seek for possible legal errors on the financial statements. They could be wrong calculations or typos.

Another common way of used in forensic auditing is reviewing documents and research. The auditors scrutinize invoices, bank statements, receipts and payrolls among other documents. They could extend their investigations to the subsidiaries or affiliated entities. By doing this, they can easily detect embezzlement, mismanagement or theft cases. Some companies have non-existent employees who are in the payroll (Li, Chang-Tsun & Anthony, 2011). This is an example of a fraud case where that money taken by individuals. Such actions are possible to identify using this method.

Forensic auditors use personal intelligence as a toll for auditing. This entails interviewing employees and gathering the information they give. Currently, many companies and premises are using surveillance devices. They are also utilized by forensic auditors to gather relevant information. This method is effective when it is accompanied by using other tools like software and document review. The results are compared and the discrepancies will be identified. The three methods are used together in cases, which need verification and detailed investigation.

Data mining is largely used by many companies for forensic auditing. This method is in its early stage but it has greatly helped companies. Data mining enables the management to identify certain trends in their records. For example, they can note a trend in sales or customer loyalty. The same method will be used to identify unusual activities like fraud cases. Through data mining, the auditor will realize which transactions are connected to fraud and uncover them. Data mining is a process, which entails analyzing large groups of data. Through this analysis, it is possible to detect criminal activity (Champlain, 2001).

Some criminal activities involve deleting files or important information from a database. This could be done to cover traces of the offense. During investigation, a forensic auditor is required to recover this information for presentation as evidence. The market has availed equipment to assist forensic auditors in recovering data or information. Some companies like Salvation DATA have this kind of equipment. This technology has played a big role in decreasing criminal cases in company management. Companies are also purchasing them for their own use.

Forensic auditing is currently involved in preventing criminal activities in companies. It is not good enough to identify and investigate the crimes. Prevention is an important element too. There are certain techniques being used to prevent fraud and other criminal activities. Some organizations are using software and other physical equipment for prevention measures. For instance, sensitive company records are secured and access is limited as much as possible. By doing this, it is possible to account for anything happening to them. This mainly involves the financial statements.

It is important for organization and companies to have a proper channel of authority and command. This is vital when any fraudulent case has been discovered and has to be reported. The time it happened should be noted and reported immediately. Forensic auditing follows and the truth is revealed (Platt, 2005). Companies should protect themselves from cases of fraud and not relying on forensic auditing. The auditors may not be successful in revealing all the information about the offense. The case may be technical beyond their capacity. They could lack tools or methods of solving the whole crime. This is why it is important to prevent these risks.

Forensic auditing is currently facing challenges in it operations. The greatest challenge is lack of adequate to solve some crime situations. There are some offenses, which are complex and there are no inventions made to solve those cases. This makes the offenders to get away with their mistakes and it encourages others, especially if they realize they will not face legal consequences. There are developments, which should be made to seal this breaches. Forensic professionals are still carrying out research for improving the current state of forensic auditing.

Forensic auditors have to keep up with the advancement of technology (Li, Chang-Tsun & Anthony, 2011). The clients require them to be effective and use the latest technology. It becomes a challenge to these auditors if they are not up to speed. Some lack finances to purchase the latest auditing tools and it makes them unmarketable. The clients may also be misled by some television shows, which show a forensic auditor detecting fraud within an hour. It makes them think Forensic auditing is easy and they will expect the same efficiency in a real life situation.

Some of the new threats forensic auditing is experiencing include tracing funds gong to a group in Middle East from a baker in USA. The Wall Street has many ponzis and it is a hard task for the forensics to detect them. Insider traders are also on the increase and forensics has to discover them before they harm investors. The current forensics cases differ from those, which happened in the past years. Today, there is a great increase in frauds and other crimes related to business and management. There are more sophisticated and it requires forensics auditors to be good at their work. Governments should fully supports forensic department to enable them do more effective work (Champlain, 2003)

References

Champlain, J. J. (2003). Auditing Information Systems. New York, NY: Wiley,

Li, C.T., and Anthony T. S. H. (2011) New Technologies for Digital Crime and Forensics Devices, Applications, and Software. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.

Platt, Richard. (2005). Forensics. Boston, MA: Kingfisher.