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Introduction to computer forensics and investigations


Unit image

Computer forensics is an exciting area, often glamorised (and its capabilities exaggerated) in films and television shows like CSI, NCIS and Spooks. You may have heard the area described using slightly different words, each of which may bring to mind different activities.

Activity 1

Write down all the topics that you can think of that might be encompassed by the term ‘computer forensics and investigations’.


Here are some of the names we thought of; your list should include at least some of these:

  • computer forensics
  • forensic computing
  • forensic science
  • digital forensics
  • network forensics
  • ICT forensics
  • forensic investigations
  • digital investigations
  • business continuity
  • incident response
  • computer policing
  • high-tech crime investigation
  • computer security
  • incident management.

Whether you have come from an area where you have acquired knowledge of ‘the nuts and bolts’ of how computers operate (but have had very little experience of investigations or legal aspects), or come from a management, legal, or investigatory background (but have little practical knowledge of the insides of computers and software) then this unit is for you. Part of the interest and excitement of the area of digital investigations is that it is multi-disciplinary and there are always new things to learn. This unit will be quite a challenge but we hope you will find it stimulating and exciting, as well as of considerable practical value.

This study unit is an adapted extract from the Open University course M263 Building blocks of software, which is no longer taught by the University. If you want to study formally with us, you may wish to explore other courses we offer in this subject area [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .