eDiscovery services and digital forensic services are two related but distinct areas of expertise within the field of information technology. Both are concerned with investigating digital data for the purpose of uncovering information relevant to legal or investigative matters, but there are some key differences between the two.
eDiscovery services are focused on the collection, processing, review, and production of electronically stored information (ESI) for use in legal proceedings. eDiscovery specialists work with legal teams to identify and preserve relevant data, analyze it for relevance and responsiveness, and produce it in a format that is admissible in court. eDiscovery services may include tasks such as data mapping, data preservation, data collection, data processing, document review, and production.
Digital forensic services, on the other hand, are concerned with the collection, analysis, and preservation of digital evidence for use in legal or investigative matters. Digital forensics experts are typically called in to investigate computer systems or other digital devices that have been compromised, hacked, or otherwise tampered with. They use specialized tools and techniques to extract data from the device, analyze it for evidence of wrongdoing, and present their findings in a clear and concise manner.
As mentioned in the article introduction, eDiscovery services involve the identification, preservation, collection, processing, review, and production of ESI in response to legal requests or requirements. The goal of eDiscovery is to help legal teams find relevant evidence and information in digital documents, emails, messages, social media posts, and other electronic data.
eDiscovery services typically start with identifying and preserving relevant data. This involves working with clients to map out their data sources, establish a defensible preservation plan, and collect the relevant data in a forensically sound manner. The data is then processed to eliminate duplicates and filter out irrelevant information, so that only responsive data is reviewed.
Once the relevant data has been identified and processed, it is reviewed by a team of attorneys and subject matter experts who analyze the information to determine its relevance to the case. The reviewed data is then produced in a format that is admissible in court, such as PDFs or TIFF images, along with metadata that can be used to authenticate the data.
Digital Forensic Services:
Digital forensic services involve the acquisition, analysis, and preservation of digital evidence to support legal or investigative matters. Digital forensic experts use specialized tools and techniques to examine digital devices such as computers, mobile phones, vehicles, and other storage devices, and extract data for further analysis.
Digital forensic investigations can be complex and time-consuming, requiring a thorough understanding of computer systems and digital storage devices. Forensic experts typically use a variety of tools and techniques to acquire data, including imaging the hard drive or device, carving out specific files, or analyzing the data in a live environment.
Once the data has been acquired, it is analyzed to determine whether any evidence of wrongdoing can be found. As an example, a computer forensic analysis may involve examining deleted files, analyzing network logs, or searching for evidence of malware or hacking. The findings are then presented in a clear and concise manner that is admissible in court.
The costs of eDiscovery services and digital forensic services can vary widely depending on a number of factors, including the complexity of the case, the volume of data involved, and the specific services required. However, there are some general differences in the cost structures of the two services that can be discussed.
The costs of eDiscovery services can be significant, particularly in cases involving large volumes of data. The primary cost drivers for eDiscovery services are typically related to data processing and review.
Data processing costs can be considerable, as the data must be processed to eliminate duplicates and filter out irrelevant information. This can involve complex software tools and may require substantial computing power, which can drive up costs.
Review costs can also add significantly to the overall price, as the data must be reviewed manually by a team of attorneys and subject matter experts to identify relevant information. This process can be time-consuming, which adds to the expense, particularly if the data set is large.
The costs of eDiscovery services are typically charged on a per-gigabyte or per-hour basis, with rates varying depending on the service provider and the specific services required. The average cost of eDiscovery services can range from $1,000 to $5,000 per gigabyte, depending on the complexity of the case.
Digital Forensic Services:
The costs of digital forensic services can also be significant but are typically more focused on the initial data acquisition and analysis.
The cost of data acquisition can vary depending on the device being analyzed and the specific tools and techniques required to acquire the data. In general, data acquisition costs are lower than data processing costs for eDiscovery services.
Analysis costs can also vary depending on the complexity of the case and the specific services required. However, analysis costs are typically lower than review costs for eDiscovery services, as the focus is on extracting and analyzing data, rather than reviewing it for relevance.
The costs of digital forensic services are typically charged on a per-hour or per-device basis, with rates varying depending on the service provider and the specific services required. The average cost of digital forensic services can range from $150 to $300 per hour, depending on the complexity of the case. Some flat fee services can range between $300 to $1,500 for processing and report.
In summary, both eDiscovery services and digital forensic services can be costly, but the cost structures are different. eDiscovery services tend to be more expensive due to the complexity of data processing and review, while digital forensic services tend to be more focused on data acquisition and analysis. The costs of both services can vary significantly depending on the specific requirements of the case.
The main difference between eDiscovery services and digital forensic services is their focus. eDiscovery services are primarily concerned with the management of electronic data for legal purposes, while digital forensic services are focused on investigating digital devices for evidence of wrongdoing. Additionally, eDiscovery services are typically employed in the context of civil litigation, while digital forensic services are used in both civil and criminal investigations.