Integrating Behavioural Analysis within the Digital Forensics Investigation Process

Al Mutawa, Noora Ahmad Khurshid (2018) Integrating Behavioural Analysis within the Digital Forensics Investigation Process. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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This programme of research focused on incorporating Behavioural Analysis (BA) within the digital forensics investigation process. A review of previously developed digital forensics investigation models indicated a lack of sufficient consideration of the behavioural and motivational dimensions of offending, and the way in which digital evidence can be used to address these issues during the investigation process. This programme of research aimed to build on previous work by scientific researchers and investigators by developing a digital forensics investigation model which incorporates greater consideration of the behavioural and motivational implications of case-related digital evidence based on current theoretical understandings of these aspects of offending from forensic psychology. This can aid with understanding of the crime events and reconstruction, and lead to the development of more detailed models and guidelines for examining computer-facilitated interpersonal crimes.
The first study employed an abductive approach to forensically analyse individual cases (real cases obtained from the Dubai Police archives) applying BA to the online Sexually Exploitative Imagery of Children (SEIC) and cyberstalking. Its aim was to investigate what BA could contribute to the digital forensics investigation of cases within these crime categories. It identified five benefits: (1) providing focus, speed and investigative directions, (2) inferring victim/offender behaviours, (3) inferring offender motivation(s), (4) identifying potential victims, and (5) eliminating suspects. This was followed by a survey study empirically examining the perceptions of national and international digital forensics practitioners regarding the use and utility of BA during the process of investigating SEIC and cyberstalking cases. The results indicated that while the majority believed that BA has potential to contribute to many aspects of digital forensics investigations, their daily investigative activities involved a limited use of this technique. The implications of the study were outlined, and emphasised the need to design a digital forensics investigation model that provides guiding steps and illustrations on how to utilise BA in digital forensics investigations.
Based on the findings from the conducted studies, a digital forensics investigation model that incorporates aspects of BA was designed. It aimed to provide a pragmatic, structured, multidisciplinary approach to performing a post mortem examination, analysis, and interpretation of the content of the digital devices associated with computer-facilitated interpersonal crimes. Two comprehensive case studies were also used to illustrate the investigative importance of the model in investigating computer-facilitated interpersonal crimes.

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