Federal cybercrime investigations in DC are usually conducted in a particular manner and by specific agencies including the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI. These investigations are often thorough and effective and may involve a forensic examination of the computer network that was used. As a result, if you believe you may be under investigation it is imperative you consult with a DC federal cybercrimes attorney, even before an arrest takes place, to ensure your rights are protected and the strongest defense possible can be built.
Typically, a federal cybercrime investigation is initiated when there is penetration into a network that is discovered. Agents analyze the penetration and do an investigation to try to trace back to the source of that penetration. For this reason cybercrime cases are typically investigated before an arrest even takes place.
If an investigation is successful, the authorities can trace the penetration back to a particular computer that was used by figuring out the IP address of that computer, and then who likely had access to that computer. In certain cases this may involve following up with an investigation into the likely users or the potential users of that computer which may then involve interviewing witnesses to try to make that determination.
If the penetration of the network involves a required access to a particular building, that might require agents to look at records to see who had access to the building on a particular day. They can then narrow down the list of people. That is typically how the investigation is conducted. The other way is that the agents may develop or find a person who is going to cooperate and identify the person or persons who committed the offense or are alleged to have committed the offense.
In a DC federal cybercrime case, typically investigators are looking for evidence that might lead them to the computer that was used to access the network. For example, if agents establish that it might be someone working inside the government organization or company that was hacked or illegally accessed, that can give them leads. From there they may branch out and contact people who might have some sort of knowledge about it, in an attempt to narrow down the focus to one or more people.
The investigators will also try to determine if information was actually accessed and removed. Where that information is sent could provide leads which investigators can then trace to a particular computer. If investigators contact the individuals whose information was taken and find out that their information was used to purchase some goods or services, they can trace those purchases back to a particular person. That may lead them to the person who actually engaged in the penetration of the network.
Typically, depending on the length and breadth of the network penetration, federal cybercrime investigations in DC do not take an especially long amount of time. The investigations may take months, but they are not typically the type of investigation that will take years.
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