Our forensic reports always provide a definition when a new technical term is introduced. This assists the understanding of computer-based evidence by non-technical audiences. Below is a collection of defintions that we regularly use in our forensic reports and during expert witness testimony court.
They are not the definitive or technical definitions.
geek (gIek) noun. Sl. 1. Once a term of derision, the label 'geek' has a badge of honour and distinction, a
technical wizard who creates great software and the powerful hardware that runs it. 2. One who eats
(computer) bugs for a living. 3. One who fulfils all the dreary negative stereotypes about hackers:
an asocial, malodorous, pasty-face monomaniac with all the personality of a cheese grater.
Ebay is an auction website. It enables users of computers connected to the Internet to advertise items for
sale at the website and provides the means for other users to bid for those items. It is similar to a real-life
auction and the highest bidder for an item is the person that buys, or wins, it. Ebay automates the bidding process
(so that the bidder enters their maximum price and then the computer automatically bids against other potential
buyers in small increments, up to the maximum) and the buyer and seller do not have to meet in person. The sold goods
are usually sent via post.
Email (electronic mail) is one way that a user on one computer can communicate with another. A user may produce a
document or other material on their computer and then use email to send that document to another person or persons.
The address to which the document is to be sent must be specified and is unique for each email account. Associated
with each account is a mailbox and this is where received documents will be stored. A person may have more than one
email account. In order to read emails the user may view them locally, where the emails are downloaded to the user's
computer (for example, using Microsoft Outlook or AOL), or remotely, where the user can view the emails directly on
the Internet by visiting a website designed for that purpose (for example, Hotmail or Yahoo). Email is similar in
operation to the Postal Service.
The hard-disk drive within a computer is used to store information, or data. That data is usually stored as a series
of named files that are organised into groups within named folders. The capacity of a hard-disk drive determines the
amount of data that can be stored on it.
The Internet is a global network of computers that are linked together. In order that the computers can talk to each
other they may be registered with an Internet Service Provider (ISP).
Internet Service Provider
The service that the ISP provides is to act as a gateway for the computer to connect to the Internet, and passes
information both out towards the network and in from the network. In order to use the services of an ISP, a person
requires an account. The account will have a name that is unique within that ISP. In order to use the account, the
account holder will usually be required to use the account name and a password.
Newsgroups are areas on the Internet where like-minded people can discuss topics of mutual
interest. Discussion takes the form of users sending emails, or articles, to the group so
that they may be viewed by all of the group's participants or visitors. The articles may
contain other files, such as images, as attachments and are stored on a computer.
The operating system is a collection of programs on a computer that enable it to work. It
allows all the different components of the computer, such as the keyboard, monitor and hard-disk
drive, to work together. It also enables the user of the computer to run programs.
Partitions are used on computer storage devices such as hard-disks to create separate storage
areas. Often, one storage area will be used to hold the user account details and other
configuration information including the operating system, and the other partition will be used for storage.
A scanner is a device that works in a similar way to a photocopier: a page is placed into it and
a copy is then made. The difference is that a scanned document is stored digitally as a picture
file on a computer (which can subsequently be printed), as opposed to being printed automatically
on a photocopier.
Illegitimate code hidden in a file that appears legitimate. Similar to a virus, and often used
in conjunction with one. Named after the Greek Myth of the Trojan Horse.
A user-account is used to configure the computer to behave in a certain way for the user of that
account, including setting-up the default locations of files stored by that user.
Unallocated clusters are parts of a computer hard disk that are flagged as being empty, either
because no information has been stored there, or because information was stored there and has
been marked as deleted. When a file was previously stored on that part of the disk and has not
since been overwritten, it is often possible to view the file's original contents.
Illegitimate code that has the ability to replicate itself and spread its 'infection'.
The way that most home-computer users use the Internet is to view web-pages on websites using a web-browser.
A website is a collection of related web-pages. A web-page is generally made-up of several parts each
containing text, pictures or animations. This means that the job of a web-browser includes putting all
of these pieces together on the screen in the appropriate layout. A language often used to describe the
screen layout is Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). It tells the browser how the pieces fit together.