Analysis of Digital Evidence in Identity Theft Investigations

Olga Angelopoulou

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


Identity Theft could be currently considered as a significant problem in the modern internet driven era. This type of computer crime can be achieved in a number of different ways; various statistical figures suggest it is on the increase. It intimidates individual privacy and self assurance, while efforts for increased security and protection measures appear inadequate to prevent it. A forensic analysis of the digital evidence should be able to provide precise findings after the investigation of Identity Theft incidents. At present, the investigation of Internet based Identity Theft is performed on an ad hoc and unstructured basis, in relation to the digital evidence. This research work aims to construct a formalised and structured approach to digital Identity Theft investigations that would improve the current computer forensic investigative practice. The research hypothesis is to create an analytical framework to facilitate the investigation of Internet Identity Theft cases and the processing of the related digital evidence. This research work makes two key contributions to the subject: a) proposing the approach of examining different computer crimes using a process specifically based on their nature and b) to differentiate the examination procedure between the victim’s and the fraudster’s side, depending on the ownership of the digital media. The background research on the existing investigation methods supports the need of moving towards an individual framework that supports Identity Theft investigations. The presented investigation framework is designed based on the structure of the existing computer forensic frameworks. It is a flexible, conceptual tool that will assist the investigator’s work and analyse incidents related to this type of crime. The research outcome has been presented in detail, with supporting relevant material for the investigator. The intention is to offer a coherent tool that could be used by computer forensics investigators. Therefore, the research outcome will not only be evaluated from a laboratory experiment, but also strengthened and improved based on an evaluation feedback by experts from law enforcement. While personal identities are increasingly being stored and shared on digital media, the threat of personal and private information that is used fraudulently cannot be eliminated. However, when such incidents are precisely examined, then the nature of the problem can be more clearly understood.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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