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Although computer crimes are being seen in our society more and more each day, it is still difficult to prosecute people who commit these crimes mainly because everything is digital.

Digital evidence must be presented in court but in order for it to be admissible, the evidence must be handled and preserved correctly. The handling and preservation of evidence ensures that the evidence has not been tampered with or altered. So the main question is, how should investigators proceed in order to prove the integrity of the digital evidence?

Law enforcement officials like uniform officers and street patrol are usually the first to respond to an incident. They are trained to avoid contaminating a crime scene or destroying physical evidence. They understand the need to protect and preserve the evidence (Fritsch, Liederbach, Saylor, Tafoya, & Taylor, 2018).

All physical items that are collected as evidence must be labeled, packaged, and transported to a forensic lab. Because digital evidence can be altered even while being transported, all evidence should be packed into an anti-static packaging. To prevent messages from being sent or received by electronic mobile devices, faraday bags should be utilized. Once the evidence makes it back to the lab, all of the seized items should be inventoried, recorded, and secured in a locked room. Any computer systems and related devices need to be secured away from extreme temperatures, humidity, dust, and other contaminants.

One of the most important aspects of preserving digital evidence is thorough documentation. A chain of custody log helps ensure the integrity of the evidence that is collected. The chain of custody is a process that investigators used which shows the preservation of a crime scene and the evidence throughout the life of the case (Maras, 2015). Securing the crime scene usually includes removing suspects & witnesses and even people who are surrounding the area that needs to be searched.

This usually takes place at the beginning so that nothing could be tampered with. Because all evidence collection practices could be called into question during a trail, it is best to have a written procedure in place that can be used each time evidence is collected.

Some of the areas that should be covered in the written procedure include information on the correct way to photograph the evidence, proper handling instructions for computers and mobile devices, proper labeling techniques, and proper recording or logging (Fritsch et al. 2018).

Although, law enforcement officials and prosecutors are in charge of maintaining the evidence from beginning to end, the main issue is making sure the integrity of this evidence is upheld. 1 Peter 3:16 reads "keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander", speaks directly to the fact that the people who are in charge of preserving the integrity of the evidence, should do so as best as possible because when it's all said and done, if the evidence is preserved according to the chain of custody, then they would be no question whether the evidence would be admissible in court. References Fritsch, E. J., Liederbach, J., Saylor, M. R., Tafoya, W. L., & Taylor R. E. (2018). Cyber Crime and Cyber Terrorism [Pearson: New York, NY] Maras, M. I. (2015), Computer forensics: Cybercriminals, laws, and evidence (2nd edition) [Jones and Bartlett Learning, Burlington, MA]

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