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Businesses are failing to capture essential evidence from their computer systems, according to a UK industry group which has published a new set of guidelines designed to help firms gen up on computer forensics.

The Directors and Corporate Advisors’ Guide to Digital Investigations and Evidence from the Information Assurance Advisory Council (IAAC) is designed to plug a knowledge gap it reckons is leaving business at risk. The absence of properly preserved computer evidence not only makes criminal prosecutions against hackers more difficult but leads to firms failing to get proper redress in the civil courts or unable to make proper insurance claims, IAAC argues.

"The need for digital evidence is not confined to obvious cybercrime events such as hacking, fraud and denial of service attacks," said report author Peter Sommer, "It’s also required when transactions are disputed, in employee disputes, and almost all forms of non-cyber crime, including murder, forgery, industrial espionage and terrorism. With the vast proliferation of computer ownership and usage plus the growth of low-cost always-on broadband connectivity, all organisations require a forensic readiness program."

Sommer, who is a senior research fellow at the London School of Economics and has appeared as an expert witness in many high profile cybercrime cases, added that although firms don't need a 'Digital Sherlock Holmes', they do need plans to identify and preserve digital evidence such as emails and web transactions along with an understanding of some of the associated legal problems such as admissibility and privacy.

The first third of the guide provides general management advice while the remainder provides details of procedures, techniques, applicable law and sources of further information about computer forensics. The guide is available for free download form IAAC's website here.

The Information Assurance Advisory Council (IAAC) is a private sector led, industry group focused on promoting a safe and secure information society. IAAC’s corporate sponsors include Cisco, HP Labs, Microsoft, QinetiQ, Symantec, RAND Europe and RSA Security. ®

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