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When an electronic document is created and stored on a digital device, ‘hidden’ intrinsic data is created. This is referred to as metadata and details information such as:
Metadata is a blanket term. There are many types of metadata; for example, EXIF (Exchangeable Image File) data is a type of metadata found within image files and is very useful for digital forensic analysis. When accessing documents as a normal user it is not possible to alter or ‘tamper’ with metadata. However, there are specialist tools readily available that can make this possible in the hands of someone with sufficient knowledge. When files are out of a ‘native’ environment, metadata can only be taken at face value; there is no way of determining any metadata manipulation.
Native environments for some file types are for example:
Metadata interrogation can glean specific information to further understand a timeline of events. This includes whether documents or images that reference specific events or dates have been created or edited after the fact. This can be crucial in resolving disputes of both a civil and criminal nature.
Metadata interrogation is applicable to many scenarios across all industries. Most recently, CYFOR were instructed by lawyers representing a large construction company. They required the analysis of image files to infer whether a set of photographs had been edited or are in their original state relating to a time-specific event.
We have also been instructed by a nation-wide law firm acting for their client, who needed to ascertain whether a document relating to employee time logs for billable hours had been fraudulently edited after the fact.
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