Digital forensics can be an invaluable service for a huge range of reasons, whether that is protecting against IP theft or trying to perform background investigations on would-be applicants. However, like any service for hire, you need the right person for the job – whoever that might be.
But how do you choose the right digital forensics consultant company, and what kind of factors go into making sure that you are working with the right team for the job? Here are some things to consider if you are looking for consultants that you can rely on.
The more experienced somebody is with digital forensics, the more likely they are to understand some of the minor details that make up a large part of the digital forensics process. It is not an easy task, and there can be a lot of variables to work through – sometimes including information that is not even easily accessible online.
This means that digital forensics requires specialists, people with a good level of experience in the work that you are asking them to do. This could be compliance management, cybersecurity breach responses, or larger-scale investigations of trade secret leaks. All of these tasks can get very complex and convoluted, especially for an inexperienced consultant.
Take a look at each company that you could work with, and try to find information on their past work if possible. You want to find digital forensics specialists that have at least a small amount of experience in the niche you are trying to deal with.
Not all digital forensics cases are straightforward, and a lot will spiral out into more and more work as new information is uncovered. While a background check can be simple, something like corporate theft requires a lot more work, especially if the unethical behavior is part of a chain of arrangements and deals spread throughout a company.
In these more extreme cases, you need digital forensics specialists that are able to adapt to the new information they are uncovering. The more versatile and varied their methods can be, the more likely they are to remain focused even after something is discovered that changes the context of a previous investigation.
Even in simpler situations, like performing background checks on an employee, having more versatility always helps. It ensures that the consultants you choose can use a variety of methods to find the information you need rather than trying to brute-force the easiest option.
Digital forensics is a niche that requires a lot of constant communication between the client and the consultant. This includes higher-level communication (sharing their findings) as well as more direct interactions (working with company personnel to gather relevant information). The more communicative your digital forensics experts are, the better.
This does not have to mean regular status updates or constant phone calls about the current state of the investigation. However, it is important to know that your consultants are going to remain in close contact, especially when there are tight deadlines involved and you need certain pieces of information as soon as they become available.
This is especially important for anything related to criminal actions or charges. Even a single piece of miscommunicated or forgotten information can completely change the context of what they have found. Full, clear, direct communication is always going to make a difference, so choose communicative consultants whenever possible.
Sometimes, the role you have in a case can actually be important. Are you accusing somebody of IP theft or being accused? Are you performing a background check on one person or an entire wave of new employees? Are the compliance issues you are having self-recognized or were they brought up by a third party?
The context of what is happening is important since not all digital forensics services are going to be equipped for every situation. It is often a good idea to talk with any companies that you are considering working with, telling them the basics of your situation to see if it is something they can provide.
Be sure to look at the services they say they offer, too. You want to be absolutely sure that you are picking digital consultants that are suitable for your own needs and requirements, especially if you are directly involved in whatever case or scenario you are asking them to resolve.
More importantly, what do you actually need the digital forensics specialists to do? Are they going to be performing some basic investigations and then moving on, or do you want them as a semi-permanent fixture of your business operations until a given situation is dealt with? This is relevant, too, especially for contractors.
Simply put, you can’t always assume that a set of digital forensics experts will be available for however long you need them. You will often have to get in touch with them and ask for yourself, especially if their past work does not give any indication of how involved they were in the process or how long it lasted.
Consider what they will be doing and how long they will be a part of your investigations. Remember that the scope of the work also matters: some consultants will be fine doing dozens of hours of work per week, and others will not have the time.
Who To Choose
There is not a perfect set of digital forensics consultants out there, but there can still be a range of ways to track down the ones that work best for your needs. The most obvious way is to start narrowing down your options: culling out any consultants that are not going to match with the situation you are stuck in.
The fewer options you have left, the more likely the remaining ones are to match your requirements. Just remember that you still need to consider all of the above, especially if you are looking for a set of consultants who can resolve a highly sensitive and/or expensive dispute.
Whatever you are looking for, do not rush into a decision, even if you are under a limited deadline. You want to be absolutely sure that you are working with a set of digital forensics experts that know what they are doing and who can support you properly throughout their work.