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Data forensics, often used interchangeably with computer forensics, is essentially the study of digital data and how it is created and used for the purpose of an investigation. Data forensics is part of the greater discipline of forensics, in which various types of evidence are studied to investigate an alleged crime.
Data forensics can involve many different tasks, including data recovery or data tracking. Data forensics might focus on recovering information on the use of a mobile device, computer or other device. It might cover the tracking of phone calls, texts or emails through a network. Digital forensics investigators may also use various methodologies to pursue data forensics, such as decryption, advanced system searches, reverse engineering, or other high-level data analyses.
Some experts make a distinction between two types of data collected in data forensics. One is persistent data, which is permanently stored on a drive and is therefore easier to find. The other is volatile data, or data that is transient and elusive. Data forensics often focuses on volatile data, or on a mix of data that has become difficult to recover or analyze for some reason. In other cases, data forensics professionals focus on persistent data that is easy to come by but must be assessed in depth in order to prove criminal intent.