The role of digital forensics in the financial audit
In a fast-growing digital landscape and highly connected world, the business world nowadays produces a high-volume of digitized documents despite the fact that the printed versions still retain their importance in business. With the ability to store an unlimited amount of data than their conventional counterparts, more and more businesses from the banking, manufacturing, agriculture, as well as the public sector, opt to run their operations based on digital documents.
A new skill in financial audits
This shift to digital documents has created a demand for a new skill in financial audits to ensure the governance of business operations. This is true as people are becoming more digitally savvy, they tend to do all activities digitally, including their errs and frauds in business. It opens the opportunity for financial auditors to collaborate with experts in digital forensics in conducting the audit, internally or externally, in the increasingly digitized business landscape to better safeguard the business’s governance.
According to Ec-Council, “Digital forensic science is a branch of forensic science that focuses on the recovery and investigation of material found in digital devices related to cybercrime”. Digital forensics provides the auditor the capability to reconstruct the digital evidence from the audited subjects that can be used as digital evidence that is admissible for court proceedings. For an organization to have this capability, the key is employing human resources who have competencies in conducting digital forensics and using proven and well-known forensic tools.
Issues in handling digital evidence
The first issue that a digital forensic specialist must heed is how to handle the evidence obtained from the digital forensic investigation. Digital evidence must be treated similarly to paper-based evidence in terms of certain evidence-gathering processes from identification, collection, storing, and analysis to authentication. One must note that digital evidence is volatile in its nature as it is prone to change. In this regard, it is of utmost importance to keep the digital evidence in its original state as during the time of the incident. This is a challenge for a digital forensic specialist during the acquisition of that evidence.
The second issue that a digital forensic specialist must also pay attention to is the acquisition process of the digital evidence itself. The person who conducts the data acquisition must have the competencies to do that job, proven by certification of skills and the use of certified tools. Having experience is not only nice to have for a digital forensic specialist as a tiny mistake in conducting data acquisition can ruin the whole digital forensic process. One should remember that data acquisition in a digital forensics investigation can last for days, depending on the size and complexity of the data.
The third issue is the tools used to conduct the digital forensic process, be it the hardware or the software. The rapid development in digital technology requires a digital forensics specialist to always keep up with the latest technology available in the market, which includes the need to update his/her skills to operate these tools. One should note the possible costly investment to maintain the skills and update to the latest forensic tools that can overcome the latest challenges in digital forensics investigation for years to come.
At Integrity Asia, our team is competent, experienced, and equipped to conduct digital forensics as part of a fraud investigation. Our team assists clients from various industries to conduct digital forensics investigations. With the increasing volume of digital data involved in the audit process, the need for digital forensics expertise is evident. Our professional team is available to help your business handle digital data as part of your internal audit process.