Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Big Boost For Online Business Ventures

Online enterprises will surely profit from the services of the best SEO companies. These organizations engage in research, website design, online promotions and related technical functions. However, their principal task is to formulate a comprehensive and effective plan that will satisfy the requirements of an online business.

The best SEO service is delivered by these companies to make sure that their clients achieve proficiency in targeting customers and convincing them that a particular commodity or service is something that is beneficial. At the same time, the best SEO companies should ensure that their clients maintain a high-quality website. It has to establish that quality visitors go to the website and be converted into loyal customers. This will result into the generation of steady profits for the client in the long-term.

One thing to be considered by the best SEO companies in crafting strategies is to analyze the market situation carefully, determine all requirements and plan ahead. Planning should entail knowing the costs involved for an aggressive marketing campaign as well as the time and other resources needed for its implementation. Substantial time should be spent to optimize websites and drive a sufficient amount of traffic to it.

Indeed, the best SEO service can do wonders for online business organizations. Because of this development, even minor entrepreneurs can now look forward to better income opportunities.

At present, the best SEO companies are confronted with a broader responsibility that includes the traditional fields of advertising, promotions, public relations, information management, sales, customer service and graphics design.

Using the potent combination of marketing, public relations and internet technology, best SEO companies can reach out to as many clients as possible. These technical experts only need to integrate various tools with the other aspects of marketing communications such as research, promotions, product development and management.

On the other hand, compared to conventional marketing initiatives, the best SEO service does not require a big group of employees or a huge budget. It brings in traffic and allows potential consumers the chance to network with merchants and indicate their preferences. One of the keys to the success in this initiative is discovering the right niche, planning strategically and nurturing the promise of success upon inception of the venture.

The services of the best SEO companies include comprehensive research, industry and technical analysis, market survey, keyword research, code optimization, website structure analysis, content analysis and whatever else is required to promote a website through popular search engines. They also provide link-building and internet marketing know-how to facilitate an effective system for generating a substantial amount of visitor traffic. Helpful search engine marketing strategies that are appropriate for each task are formulated as well to generate sales while increasing website traffic. The other important factors that must be considered are the companies' capability in coming up with a solid link building strategy and carefully planned online marketing goals.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

iSCSI Software

iSCSI software is the type of software used in network storage where iSCSI protocol is used. The basic storage network which deploys iSCSI is storage area network (SAN). iSCSI software enables the devices to become connected to the network, share storage space and have access to the data stored on storage servers.

There can be two sets of devices which are in the network. The first are iSCSI initiators - the appliances which send SCSI commands and initiate the contact. The other are iSCSI targets - the devices which receive the commands sent by the iSCSI initiator. Therefore, depending on the status of the device, it will require special iSCSI software - for initiators, for targets or both, since one device can sometimes perform both roles. In the case of iSCSI software for initiators we can have the system initiator. It is a special service running in the operation system. Windows Vista and Windows 2008 are already equipped with iSCSI software for initiator, you only have to select it. In Windows XP and Windows 2003 you can download iSCSI initiator from Microsoft pages and install it. As far as targets are concerned there are also two possibilities.

Many of the modern popular server operating systems can provide iSCSI software with target functionality - either as a built-in application or with supplemental software. They are: BSD, Linux, Solaris or Windows Server. Although Windows Storage Server 2003 R2 is not sold separately, you can buy a hardware on which it is running as the original equipment manufacturer. Such Server are offered by such producers as DELL, HP, IBM or Fujitsu Siemens. An alternative will be a specific-purpose operating system that implement iSCSI target support. The examples of such systems are FreeNAS, Openfiler or FreeSiOS. The example of target iSCSI software offered by third companies is StarWind, which can be installed even on Windows XP and provides all necessary functionality for smaller uses. An interesting solution in StarWind is the virtualization functionality, which can provide access not only to the whole drive, but also emulate the drive by means of a file, whose size can be dynamically expanded.

The storage facilities of the users are consolidated into a data center. A storage system using iSCSI can have many iSCSI targets for a number of clients. Therefore, iSCSI can enable location-independent data storage. The protection of the data and its retrieval is also strongly connected with this type of networking, since iSCSI allows for more efficient data management and disaster recovery by means of storage software.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Look Into the Future of Mobile Apps With NFC

NFC is an extension of the ISO/IEC 14443 proximity-card standard that combines the interface of a smart-card and a reader into a single device. NFC operates in the 13.56MHz frequency band over a distance of up to around 20 centimeters. A NFC tag is a printed circuit integrating an antenna and data from which data can be read or written by a NFC-enabled device. Currently this technology is used primarily with mobile phones.

There are mainly three operating modes for NFC Technology:

a. Read/Write Mode: In this mode the NFC enabled device can read or write data from external NFC tags.

b. Peer to Peer Mode: This mode allows two NFC devices to exchange data with a single tap or by keeping the devices close to each other.

c. Card Emulation Mode: In this mode the NFC device appears to an external reader to be a contactless smart card. This enables contactless payments and ticketing by NFC devices.

NFC communication always involves an initiator and a target. The Initiator device actively generates an RF field and the target device responds by modulating the existing field. There are two modes of communication:

a. Passive Communication Mode: In this mode, the target device may draw its operating power from the initiator-provided RF Field. In this case only the initiator requires batteries. The target can take the form of tags, stickers, key fobs, or cards that do not require batteries.

b. Active Communication Mode: In this Mode, both Initiator and Target device communicate by alternately generating their own RF fields. In this mode, both devices have power supplies.

Key NFC Applications:

The following are the possible applications which can be developed using NFC Technology:

Mobile payment: The device acts as a debit/credit payment card. For the credit card merchants, NFC enabled payments are easier and less costly to handle than cash and other traditional payment methods. In addition, users will have a record of even the smallest payments.

Smart poster: Smart posters promoting new products, services or events will have NFC tags embedded in the poster. By touching an NFC-enabled handset against the tag, the user may be directed to a web site for further information or to book tickets without the need to key anything into the phone to open the browser or input the URL.

Electronic keys: These are replacements for physical car keys, house/office keys, hotel room keys, etc.

By observing the process of conventional mobile commerce and the characteristics of NFC technology, the NFC supported Mobile Application for shopping domain, will generate huge revenue. Shop Mobile Application would be heavily used in shopping domain. Features of the Shop Application can include Bill Payment, Coupon Download, Coupon Sharing, Product Catalogue Download, Product Catalogue Sharing and tracking Shopping Behavior. Some of the security issues that can arise with NFC Technology are transaction forgery, transaction denial and credit card information hacking-need to be addressed.

NFC is the wave of the future. Shop Application will change the entire shopping experience. It will take the customers' user experience to a whole new level.

Since 2002, Endeavour - The Mobility Company, has remained focused on strategic mobile consulting & mobile application development. Endeavour's strategic consulting practice brings best mobility practices and has helped large organizations and fortune 500 companies with articulating their enterprise mobility strategies and implementation road-maps. Endeavour's expertise spans across all mobile operating platforms including the big 4 - Android application development, iPhone Application development, BlackBerry application development, and Windows Phone development.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Working With Creo, The New 3D CAD Software

Creo is a 3D CAD solution made by Parametric Technology Corporation. The software program, which runs on Windows operating systems, combines advanced modeling and drafting techniques plus other tools needed for mechanical engineering in 3D. It was previously known as Pro Engineer and was created by Doctor Samuel Geisberg.

Creo is a good time saver tool for designers. It combines multiple applications like parametric, 3D CAD, CAID and CAM. It produces excellent designs that are up to standards and creative. It also allows data sharing among other applications which improves the speed of data translations, error checking and error corrections.

Creo contains several stand alone applications. These include the 'parametric', which is a standard design application which helps to address challenges in the design. There is 'direct', which helps to simplify and increase the speed of designing or defeaturing and editing.

Thirdly, there is the 'schematic'. It transfers the 2D schematics to the 3D cabling and piping, automatically reducing possible errors. There is a simulation that understands and converts the 3D designs. It translates them into digital images and assists in their testing.

In addition, there is a view Mcad. This application helps to view and visualize the design insights unlike the manual system which involves many people who have to think it through and discuss it. The Ecad on the other hand, makes you visualize PCB types of designs separately or together with the whole product design.

The illustration provides a good environment which is needed for rich 3D technical illustrations whose purpose is communicating major products and actions plainly and graphically. The sketch is a 2D application that assists users to sketch their ideas. They can add other effects to communicate their ideas, like color for example.

Finally there is a layout which is a 2D application that helps to leverage the excellent 2D and 3D worlds in the design process. All these applications are combined in the Creo software. They help improve the speed and accuracy of product designs.

Training on how to use this software can be offered in at certain universities. The training is offered for both, end users and administrators. There are classes held by instructors where people are taught in the lecture halls and there is also a virtual learning library with unlimited access on the web.

There are also questions and answers web pages where users have the possibility to discuss technical issues and get solutions. In addition, there is a community that connects people to professionals. They can write articles on their experiences and get responses from other members of the community group.

Creo is a perfect solution for all designers who need exact 3D models of their drafts. With its up-to-date technology and precision tools you can be sure that the 3D model you create matches all standards that the real world product has to fulfill. The times of prototypes which fail product requirements and security checks are over, with Creo you can get the features you really need, as it can be customized to your requirements.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Why 3D Artists Can Make More Money Than You !

3D developers have the opportunity to see their designs come to reality through 3D printing. When artists print 3D models, they create physical figurines out of their designs. As in, artists can actually hold their designs! How does this work? There are quite a few printing companies that will print 3D models for artists. These businesses will take the 3D model, send it to the printing manufacturing plants, and the plants will create the objects, and ship it! This means, artists don't have anything to worry about after designing their work. They can print 3D models with ease, as companies take care of virtually everything else.

How do these manufacturing plants print 3D models? This technology is known as 3D printing. This process can create virtually anything from a design. The system with these companies works like this. An artist will send a design to a printing company. The printing company will then send the model to a manufacturing plant, and the plant will create the model into a physical product. When the model arrives at the manufacturing facility, the model will be created layer by layer by 3D printers. The companies will deal with everything when it comes time to print 3D models. These printers can use a large variety of materials to choose from. For example - printers can use metals, plastics, ceramics, rubber like materials, mechanically strong materials, and even precious metals. Essentially, these machines will lay down layers of the material, and will fuse these layers together on top of each other. After the manufacturing plant has finished printing, the model will be shipped to the customer. These companies take care of every detail when it comes time to print 3D models, you and your customers don't have to worry about anything! Customers?

Through these 3D printing companies, artists have the opportunity to make a large amount of money, through commission work. One a design is created it is available for anyone to print 3D models out of it. This means that artists can post designs online across these companies, and consumers can buy them to be 3D Printed. Once the design is uploaded, that is it for the designer. Companies will deal with all the work when it comes time to print 3D models. All he or she has to worry about is collecting commission checks per each sale that is made. These companies take care of every other detail. There is no communication with manufacturing facilities, warehousing, or shipping involved. So in a nutshell, artists can make money! They simply upload their designs, and that is it!

This is great for consumers as well; if a company were to print 3D models, the consumer simply has to purchase the item, and wait for it in the mail. No dealing with manufacturing plants, warehousing, and shipping. Another cool thing about this process - 3D model printing is much more concise than other forms of manufacturing. 3D printing can create objects that can't even be competed with by other forms. For example - objects like a ball within a ball can be created. Mechanical functioning 3D Prints can be created in one piece. There are a wide variety of options!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Store More Information With 2D Barcodes

Barcodes have for many years now been the standard way of tagging products for easy identification. RFID has been threatening for some time to take over, but to date has failed to make really significant in-roads and gain mass market appeal. In the meantime, the humble black and white stripes have not rested on their laurels, with new barcode symbologies being developed over the years. One of the most significant developments of recent years has been the continuing rise of 2D barcodes, perhaps most noticeably in the last few months in the form of (quick response) QR codes on adverts.

2D Barcode Fundamentals

What sets 2D barcodes apart is the amount of data they can store compared to a traditional 1D or linear barcode. Linear barcodes generally store a key piece of information about an object - a part number or batch number - with further details such as description, expiry date, etc., only being available once received from a database.

2D barcodes allow far greater amounts of information to be stored within the same area as a linear barcode, or allow the same information to be stored in a much smaller space. Thus, the holding of part number, expiry date and batch number within a small, single barcode becomes perfectly feasible.

2D Symbology Types

Stacked symbologies contain multiple rows of linear bars and spaces - effectively a stack of two or more linear barcodes - for example, PDF417. Stacked barcodes can be read by the majority of laser scanners, laser imagers and area imagers (subject to symbol size).

Matrix symbologies encode data in a grid of dark and light components, with the position of each component relative to the barcode centre being significant. Due to their compact size matrix symbologies are particularly suitable for marking small items. They can, however, only be read by area image scanners.

Application of 2D Barcodes

Whereas a few years ago 2D barcodes were widely regarded as a niche technology, they have more recently become more mainstream. Thanks to their ability as a portable mini-database to hold multiple pieces of information about an object, business processes can benefit from having extensive information immediately available - better stock rotation based on expiry date information, more efficient tracking in the supply chain etc. Small barcode size can reduce packaging volumes, improve first time scan rates and even enable barcode labelling of small, loose and irregularly shaped items. It's no wonder that 2D barcoding is really taking off in manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, healthcare and logistics.

Looking Forward

Whilst 2D barcodes have suffered in the past from the required area imagers being expensive and being unable to scan barcodes at distance, technology inevitably moves on and overcomes any difficulties. With the recent advent of low cost area imagers that can scan at greater distances with acceptable first-time scan rates, it seems it will only be a matter of time before 2D barcodes become dominant (until the next great revolution).

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Importance Of Having A Healthcare Management Software

They say that "change is as good as a rest." Whatever this saying means highly depends on your interpretation. However, it essentially means that making a change in your life is as good as taking a rest. As you can see, the world is changing at an accelerated pace and for you to survive in it, you have to accept these changes. With the advancement of technology, the world has grown to become a global village. On top of that, people can now accomplish tasks without having to break their backs like they used to do in the primitive ages. This is why, as a wise healthcare manager, you have to understand that using healthcare management software will only do enough good to your facility. It is very primitive to continue using the traditional methods of business management while there are so many software packages that can render your healthcare management tasks feel like a walk in the park. This article will outline for you some of the main benefits of using this healthcare management software in your organization.

Benefits Of Healthcare Management Software

It is important for you as a healthcare manager to note that as much as you would like to provide better services to your customers or patients, you also need to make profits. This is the only way that you can ensure that your medical facility remains competitive in the medicine industry. This requires you to come up with cost cutting strategies that will help you realize maximum profits at the end of the day. Using a healthcare management software to manage your facility provides you with a simple way of reducing the cost of operation.

With this healthcare management software, you will be able to reduce the number of staff in your organization, and that will be directly translated into your total expenditure. You will also be able to reduce the number of staff that attends to one patient at the same time. These extra workers can be re-deployed at other locations within the facility that have less labor supply. That way, you will be able to improve the performance of the staff in your organization

Apart from enhancing the performance of your staff, this software also enhances the patient care. With a well managed organizational structure, patients will be provided with fast, reliable and top quality services. Such services will automatically attract more customers to your health facility and in turn generate more profits. Healthcare management software also enables your staff to deliver services to the increasing number of patients in a cost effective manner.

Good quality healthcare management software enables the facility to improve on its speed in responding to patient's demands. This is because the program has the capability to support multitasking. For instance, you will be able to automatically collect, collate and retrieve the patient's information in the shortest time possible.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Best Ways to Secure Your Notebook

Your Notebook comprises of your entire personal and professional data and hence, it is more than necessary to protect it from getting in the hands of hackers online or from thieves in the real world. Hence, it is high time to pull up your socks and find solace in a foolproof solution that could protect your most important gadget everywhere and at any cost.

Categorizing security measure

The distinct ways that you adopt can be broadly classified into two categories, i.e.

- Protection of your laptop/notebook from Real theft 
- Protecting it from the hackers that could steal your digital data

Let us discuss them one after another.

Protection of your laptop/notebook from theft

- Use lengthy passwords: This strategy could work actively in your cause. Using strong passwords that contains at least one digit, alphanumeric character and special character apart from the regular alphabets would be considerable. Make sure not to use your date of birth, the name of your family members or friends as the password, it can be decrypted easily.

- Avoid using bags: It is an open invitation for people with negative intensions to carry a laptop bag. It is better if you can replace it with some safer option such as suitcase or padded briefcase.

- Encrypt your data: If unfortunately your notebook gets into the hands of wrong people, file encryption could save you from intensifying the damage further. This is also helpful if you are lending the notebook to someone else for few hours or days. With perfection encryption strategy, those with unscrupulous intentions can not decrypt your data despite of persistent attempts.

- Do not take it to public place: You can forget your notebook while keeping on he floor or on a chair while you are in public place such as a ticket counter or a restaurant. Hence, until it is a very important cause that compels you to take your gadget outside, avoid doing so.

- Use a security device: Attaching your notebook/laptop with a security device such as cable or chain and tying it with a heavy object in the room could prevent your machine from being stolen in your absence.

Protecting your laptop/notebook from hackers online

- Activate firewall: While you are rising your Wi-fi network, turning the firewall is highly recommended. You never know how many fellows are there, waiting for your open your laptop so that they may steal your sensitive data.

- Block unwanted connections: If you are using a hotspot connection then before moving further, make sure to block all the useless connections that appear in your computer. All the operating systems provide efficient ways to perform such a task comfortably.

- For extra safety, use secure website connections: While opening a website, if you use https instead of http, it assures added security to your data. Websites such as Yahoo Mail, and Gmail allow you to use this facility and there are many more as well.

- Unshare folders: Leaving the options of shared folders open could be dangerous if you are using your notebook somewhere other than home. It is not acceptable if someone checks out pictures or video files without your permission, hence it is better to unshared those folders each time you are out.

- Use VPNs: This is perhaps one of the strongest methods to secure your data online. It works on a specialised tunneling mechanism and protects your identity over the internet. Moreover, it also provides you with an IP address of a separate location that keeps you totally anonymous until the time you are online. This not only hides you from prying eyes but also enables you access blocked website.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Toshiba Android Tablet Thrive Certain to Be a Money Maker for Toshiba

When you purchase a tablet, you expect it to function as well (or better) than a laptop or any other piece of on the go technological devices. Toshiba made a run in the Android tablet market and seems to have a very good grip on what consumers want. This becomes most evident when you look at reviews of the Toshiba Android tablet Thrive, which was introduced just in time for the 2011 holiday season.

The Toshiba Android Thrive tablet comes with a 10.1 inch screen, which is exactly the same as some of the best selling tablets on the market today. Even so, it is a little heavier and has a design that is definitely unique to Toshiba. Experts at Toshiba did not want to try and mimic some of the other tablets on the market today, but instead went in their own direction with design and aesthetics. And for Toshiba, this bold design move may be paying off.

The Toshiba Thrive tablet is meant to mimic a laptop more than it is another tablet on the market today. And since it is sturdier and a tad bit heavier, many users find it easier to use. Plus, with features such as USB ports and a removable battery - users are finding that in many instances - especially troubleshooting, it is easier to use than some of the other tablets. Plus, Toshiba put a lot of thought into the design and making it comfortable for users which is why it has a unique and extremely hand pleasing grooved back panel that gives it an easy to grip feel. The back panel of the Thrive is completely removable and users can customize their appearance by using a colored back panel replacement if they so choose.

Since the back panel IS removable, users find that they can utilize two different batteries with this device, which definitely makes keeping it charged much easier in the long run. Battery life is deemed by company specification to be about 7 hours, which is fairly standard for tablets today. Even so, if you are playing games, downloading a lot of watching videos, the battery life is greatly decreased.

This tablet comes with other built in conveniences as well including the following:

USB and HDMI support,
Grooved, textured back for easy holding
Replaceable battery
Inbuilt file management system (Makes it a great choice for businesses)
Easy controls to adjust volume and standard settings
Droid 3.0 operating system
Headphone jacks
Extremely high resolution screen and accurate touch screen enabled.
If you are in the market for an Android tablet that will be able to mimic the heavy duty-ness and function of a laptop, than this is a great tablet for you. It is priced lower than the iPad and has performed better in consumer reports against well known and popular tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy. Plus, made by a company that is as reputable as Toshiba, you know that it has to be good.

How to Build a Desktop

The most important components within a desktop is the motherboard and processor. These components will usually cost more than the others. One thing to be sure of in picking what processor and motherboard your going to use, you must make sure that they are compatible. Both will specify either on the box or on the webpage your purchasing from which processors or motherboards they will be compatible with. The newest generation of processors is would be either the Intel i series (i3, i5, i7), or the AMD Phenom Series II (x2,x3,x4).

The next set of important components would include the hard drive, audio/graphics cards, RAM, and disk drives. These also have compatibility needs, but these are more general than a motherboard and processor. The hard drive and disk drive have many different ways to connect to the motherboard, but the most common is the SATA connection. Make sure if you are using an old motherboard to determine what type of connection it uses in order to connect the hard drive or disk drives. Almost all audio and graphics cards will fit in all motherboards. One thing you must make sure of is that your computer has the proper processing power to handle the extra workload in cases of High definition gaming graphics cards, or high definition audio cards. The easiest way to determine what type of RAM you need to purchase is to read your manual or go online and do some research on your motherboard. You can also look directly at the motherboard above the RAM slots and see it printed on it. DDR, DDR2, DDR3. These are listed from oldest to newest type. Most everyone uses DDR3 now.

The last components you would to obtain would be the power supply, fans, and casing. The casing will depend on what size your motherboard is, but its pretty easy to figure out what size to get (small, medium, large is the best way to look at it). Fans are just for cooling purposes, and they are needed but you don't have to go overboard with fans. Your power supply is very important as well. Everything will be directly or indirectly affected by your power supply seeing as how everything uses power. The best for a beginner with nothing to special inside of their desktop is a 500 watt power supply. Some may say this is too much but I its a safe bet. The individual components, if bought new, will come with a manual that will inform you of how much power it takes.

This is only the beginning of building a desktop. It may seem overwhelming, but as you progress you will realize it is quite simple to get the hang of building a desktop.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Digital Evidence and Legal Proceedings

When it comes to submitting digital evidence for use in a trial, the same levels of care need to be applied as with non-digital evidence.

Crime is a part of human life and, for a crime to be resolved, investigators have to reconstruct the crime scene and analyse the actions of both the suspect and the victim so that any evidence can be identified and used to support and legal proceedings.

As technology has evolved, criminals are now able to use new methods to commit traditional crimes and develop new types of crimes. Crimes committed through the use of technology still require the same principles of investigation, though the scene can now be a virtual environment that must be secured and examined as digital evidence.

Digital evidence is information or data of an evidential value that is stored on or transmitted by a computer or digital device and can be defined as follows:

'Any data stored or transmitted using a computer that support or refute a theory of how an offense occurred or that address critical elements of the offense such as intent or alibi' (Casey, E., Dunne, R. (2004) Digital Evidence and Computer Crime Forensic Science, Computers and the Internet. St. Louis: Academic Press).

A wider array of devices are capable of holding larger amounts of data and digital evidence can be found on an increasing number of types of storage media, including, computer hard drives, mobile phones and removable media such as memory cards.

As an expert witness and Digital Forensic Consultant I am finding that digital evidence is becoming more prevalent within a wider range of both criminal and civil cases including murder, unlawful images, child care cases, commercial and employment disputes. These cases can require the examination of evidence to determine whether it had been used to commit or facilitate a crime as well as to identify supportive material for either side of a legal case.

In order for digital evidence to be admissible in court a number of criteria must be met, including, ensuring that the evidence has not been altered and that an auditable trail has been kept relating to the storage and investigation of the evidential device or media. The key points of the handling and investigation of digital evidence is provided as follows:

Actions taken to secure and collect digital evidence should not affect the integrity of that evidence; 
Persons conducting an examination of digital evidence should be trained for that purpose; 
Activity relating to the seizure, examination, storage, or transfer of digital evidence should be documented, preserved, and available for review.

(U.S. Department of Justice (2004) Forensic Examination of Digital Evidence: A Guide for Law Enforcement, Washington).

The nature of digital devices therefore makes them particularly susceptible to damage or corruption. Due to the constant requirement for devices to be physically smaller in size yet bigger in capacity, the components become ever smaller and more delicate, therefore, even storing the devices in an unsuitable environment can cause the corruption and loss of some or all of the data present.

Therefore, to ensure its integrity, a 'chain of custody' relating to the evidence should be established. This usually amounts to a paper trail detailing the whereabouts of all evidential sources during custody, along with the details of individuals having access to it, when and any actions taken with it. This, along with a comparison and review of the digital media itself should allow for the acceptance by an independent examiner that a given item of media has not been corrupted or compromised following seizure.

As the level of understanding of the operation of computers and mobile phones has developed within legal cases, those investigating cases involving digital evidence have a better awareness of the methods of seizure and handling. Previously it was not uncommon to find cases where the digital evidence had been switched on and operated by a 'curious' investigating officer to 'see what was there'.

Thankfully, far greater emphasis is now placed on audit trails and storing the evidence correctly and, today, such activity by untrained individuals is now rare. The adherence to computer evidence guidelines is crucial to ensuring that the evidence considered is all that was available and basing an examination on flawed evidence that is only partially complete.

As a forensic investigator, I was recently involved in a case that highlights the importance of ensuring the completeness of digital evidence. The case involved an unemployed middle-aged man who lived on his own and kept himself to himself, though, used his computer to talk to other people within chat rooms.

He had been in contact with one of his online friends via a chat room for eight months before they asked for him to do them a favour and cash a cheque that their elderly mother was unable to do. His expenses were to be covered and he saw no problem with then transferring the money to the mother's account. Unfortunately, he did not even think that the cheque could be fraudulent until he found himself in a police station and being interviewed on suspicion of attempting to cash a fraudulent cheque.

He provided police with his version of events; fortunately, they had also seized his home computer. They examined the computer and found evidence to indicate that the defendant had been in contact with the individual, yet found no evidence to support the origins of the cheque or the story behind it. He was subsequently charged with fraud and was due to appear for trial at Crown Court.

Given the partial evidence identified by the police, the defendant's solicitors understood the situation sufficiently to know that a second opinion should be conducted of the computer hard drive to determine whether the evidence of any chat logs could be found on the computer.

It was only after a careful review of the deleted areas of the hard drive, along with the use of data recovery software that chat log activity was identified that supported the defendant's version of events. The log proved that the defendant and his friend had conversed on a number of occasions and it also confirmed the origins of the cheque. After months of investigation, after the identification of this evidence, the case was dropped on the morning of the trial.

Had the computer evidence not been sufficiently protected and secured following seizure and the data present altered in any way, whether it be by use of the hard drive or improper handling of the drive, the relatively small piece of crucial evidence may have been lost and the defendant's version of events could not have been supported.

During the examination process of digital evidence it is standard procedure for the evidence to be connected to a suitable system using write protecting hardware so that no alteration or access to the original device is possible.

Due to the volatility of digital evidence it is best practise to take a forensic 'image' of the hard drive or storage device that consists of an exact byte-by-byte copy of all data and space, both live files and deleted information, which is present on the device. This forensic image then forms the basis of the investigation and analysis and the original exhibit can then be securely stored.

At the start of the forensic copying process, the device is assigned an acquisition hash value (most commonly an MD5 hash value). Once the evidence has been forensically acquired (imaged, similar to copied) the evidence is assigned a verification hash value.

Currently, it is believed that the hash value mechanism indicates that the acquired evidence is a complete and accurate copy of the data contained on the original device and that if the acquisition and verification hash values match then no alteration of the evidence can have taken place.

Various types of hash value exist, including, HAVAL, MD5 and SHA. The forensic arena has adopted the MD5 hash as a method of proving that one file is identical to another or an item of digital evidence has not been altered since its original acquisition. The MD5 hash value was developed from 1991 by Professor Ronald L. Rivest.

As the MD5 algorithm is based on a 128-byte data block, it would appear that there is the possibility that the data on an item of digital media could be manipulated, yet the MD5 hash value not be altered. Given this, I am currently undertaking research to attempt to verify whether an item of digital evidence can be altered without changing its MD5 hash value.

This will enable the adoption of a technique to allow for the alteration of digital evidence without changes to the assigned hash value. The result of this research may be that it is possible to alter an item of digital evidence sufficiently to make the current hashing techniques unreliable in court.