Today we live in a hyper-connected world. Unfortunately, while the web has helped people from all over the globe interact, it is also an opportunity for crime.
In tandem, it has become increasingly the norm to use the services of a Computer and Internet Expert Witness.
These expert witnesses help to unravel the complexity of the internet. In addition, they can advise on many internet-related matters, including privacy, security, and web applications.
But who is a Computer and Internet Expert Witness and what can they do?
An internet expert is someone with extensive knowledge and experience in an array of internet technologies. Generally, their background will be in cyber security, database, and systems administration.
They will also possess a track record in a variety of other related digital disciplines. These could include computer forensics, software design, data recovery, etc. The expert may also have some background in IT systems, software, hardware, or even military communications.
Experts are as diverse as the subject itself. For example, it's not uncommon for internet experts to have previous experience teaching computer science, software development, programming, and networks at the college and university level.
The top experts in the field will likely have also authored books and academic papers on computer science and network security. Their names will also appear in research studies, peer reviews, white papers, thought leadership articles, and best practice and industry standard organizations.
It is not unheard of for the top internet experts to hold patents on digital technologies that they have helped to create.
So who do computer and internet experts help?
They have a wide customer base. Internet experts will often be asked to advise companies, law enforcement, government agencies, and sometimes private individuals.
The advice they dispense could span everything from computer infrastructure to information security. But this is just scratching the surface.
Enterprises, government bodies, and research labs will often call on these experts to help them build robust data security defenses. This assistance helps these organizations to guard against data breaches and identity theft, and so on.
As well as prevention, internet and computer experts have a role in dealing with the aftermath of compromised data.
There are plenty of instances where large organizations have called in these experts to detect hacking and shore up security measures.
The best experts in the field will be security industry certified. These certifications confirm the expert's education and experience.
What certifications should you look for before hiring a computer or internet expert?
There are a host of certifications out there today. But those to look out for include Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and Information Systems Security Architecture Professional (ISSAP).
Other certifications include the Microsoft Certified Trainer award and CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker). Also good are experts that hold Chief Information Security Officer certificates and are Certified Wireless Network Administrators.
There are also other prestigious international credentials to look out for, including experts who are members of the IEEE Computer Society and the Association for Computing Machinery.
While much of their work is advising companies, government, and other organizations, computer and internet experts are increasingly involved in court cases.
Due to the complex nature of the internet and litigation, expert witnesses in the field are in demand.
Frequently, they are called to give testimony in cases involving data privacy and security breaches. Experts are also brought when legal debate hinges on copyright, improper use of digital communications, and First and Fourth Amendment cases.
As so many lawsuits now entail an internet aspect, internet experts are asked to give evidence. They do so in a bid to untangle the relevant details related to the legal action.
The type of case where an expert witness can help is almost endless. However, they include such things as data breaches, computer forensics, hacking, identity theft, spyware, email, fraud, phishing, malware, etc.
Indeed, just about every area of daily life where computers and the web have an impact.
Here are a few examples of where an expert witness can influence the outcome of a court case.
In a case involving Network Systems Architects Corporation, they sought to prove that a former employee had used their client contact information in his new job. The defendant claimed he only used details he had remembered and denied copying data.
However, the judge backed the company after an expert witness examined the defendant's laptop. The expert found that the defendant had attempted to clear a substantial amount of content from the computer on dates relevant to the court case.
Meanwhile, in recent years, privacy has been a massive concern for internet users. As the technology matures, so too does the need for expert witnesses.
Many recent lawsuits have accused intelligence agencies of monitoring online communications. This and other activities have raised alarm bells with lawyers and citizens alike.
The balance between government surveillance and the rights of people to private communications has highlighted the need for internet expert witnesses to guide courts when making important legal rulings.
Experts in this type of case will look at how government agencies intercept phone calls and web content. In addition, they are often asked about encryption and various security measures taken by websites to protect customer data, internet banking, and email.
An equally growing workload for expert witnesses involves internet security. In reality, all our web interactions are vulnerable to attack, either from interception in transit or from malware secretly installed to steal data.
Court proceedings often rely on expert witnesses to determine whether bad actors infiltrated a computer network and what damage was caused.
The expert witnesses will explain the security breach, pinpoint the system's weaknesses, and determine why there was a vulnerability.
Their testimony will explain if and how the computer system was compromised and whether hackers stole any sensitive information. The experts will also speak to whether the data was correctly secured and whether there were failures in meeting industry standards.
Another area where expert witnesses are useful is in cases of cyberbullying. Often such cases involve children or young adults.
Lawsuits relating to cyberbullying will typically call on an internet expert witness to explain the context. As often as not, this context will be social media abuse and include input from educators and psychologists.
Meanwhile, an issue that is attracting growing coverage from the media is revenge porn and other types of sex-related crimes involving minors. Such cases require the context and background to be explained by expert witnesses.
Some experts specialize in this area. And can spell out such as internet culture, chat room culture, internet and pornography addiction, cybersex, child pornography, and other sexual misconduct.
They can also help defendants and their counsel build a defense argument in technology abuse or addiction cases.
Meanwhile, with billions of pages online, there are plenty of opportunities for copyrighted material to be pirated and distributed. This inevitably leads to court cases as those responsible will have used the content without permission or a usage license.
In these cases, an expert witness will often be brought in to explain the fine details of copyright and internet usage.
A ground-breaking case was Field versus Google. The plaintiff was an author of over 50 copyrighted books. He took the search engine to court, alleging that they had infringed his exclusive rights to reproduce and distribute his works.
The court ruled in Google's favor after the search engine successfully argued that the lack of no archive tags was an implied license to access his copyrighted material.
The plaintiff conceded he knew about this meta-tag and that omitting to use them on his site inferred permission for Google to access the content.