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Digital Forensic Investigation


Cyber security teams are routinely called on to investigate incidents ranging from the downtime of critical resources such as servers and networks, to complex cyber-attacks which lead to loss of resource, reputational damage and potential fines. Digital investigation is the process of identifying and analysing the causes of incidents and providing a robust and comprehensive response and explanation to stakeholders on the cause of an incident and the steps that can be taken to mitigate against it occurring again in the future.
The endpoint of a digital investigation is often a report which must clearly, cogently and convincingly attribute the root cause of the incident, whilst at the same time be easily understood by lay audiences which range from members of a court to chief executives in an organisation. This ability to organise important information and present it professionally and clearly is a key skill within the cyber security domain.

This module outlines the steps that an investigator must follow in a wide range of incidents and equips participants with the skills required to apply scientific techniques and industry standard tools to a digital investigation and present convincing results.
The module draws on case studies of example incidents which require investigation. Participants perform an investigation through the stages of evidence analysis and report writing. Throughout this process, participants are introduced to the range of tools available during an investigation and issues relating to the admissibility of evidence produced by these tools. Participants gain a thorough understanding of how the mode of investigation differs between different types of investigation, for instance corporate and criminal investigations.
Participants are made acutely aware of the importance of drawing the correct inference from digital evidence and the significant challenges faced by investigators, namely that digital data is fragile, its quantity may be overwhelming, it may be transient or volatile, it may not be legally accessible, it may not be technically accessible and its structure may be unclear.


  • Critically evaluate digital forensic tools and techniques.
  • Investigate digital artefacts against a realistic brief, preserving, analysing and interpreting the evidence and applying scientific techniques using appropriate scientific terminology.
  • Evaluate, analyse and synthesise the capability to perform incident management and incident response.
  • Critically analyse the complexities of jurisdiction in the cyber domain.


  • Digital Evidence. The nature of evidence, chain of custody, contamination.; specific features of digital evidence, fragility and integrity, hashing; capturing, preserving, replicating.
  • Interpreting. structure of digital material in a variety of forms; structure of stored material; volumes, partitions, filesystems, deleted material, persistence of earlier material; other sources of stored digital material (phones, cameras etc).
  • Tools and techniques. Validation and verification, scientific process; selected standard tools (imaging, carving, triage), capabilities and limitations; open source, commercial.
  • Investigation. briefing document. Record keeping, contemporaneous notes, negative / absence and positive / presence findings. Valid inferences, testing of non­standard techniques in novel situations. Analysing memory forensics, analysing network forensics. Anti-forensics.
  • Presentation. Eye­witness, expert witness testimony, responsibility.
  • Incident response and management. Preparation, trusted toolset; issues, maintaining power vs cutting power, transmitting devices, live systems, encrypted storage.
  • Intrusion detection methods. intrusion response, management and handling; intrusion analysis, monitoring and logging.
  • Judicial systems. Jurisdiction (national vs international context), agencies; cyber­specific issues, geo­locale of actor, agent, data, communications, agency cooperation; the scope of criminal, civil and enterprise investigations; ACPO guidelines.


  • In-module assessment - Digital investigation assessment (20%)
  • Post-module assessment - Investigation of Dashcams (80%)


2 weeks including 13 hours of lectures, 27 hours of tutorials

This is a course module on MSc Cyber Security Management.

Please note: the details of this module are correct for the current year of study and may be subject to change for future years.