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Acquisition (Imaging)

In digital forensics, acquisition is the process of creating an exact bit-by-bit copy of the drive or device which is under examination. Other terms for acquisition include imaging and cloning. As a fail-safe against critical errors corrupting data and destroying evidence, all examinations are made on clones of the source media.

Post-mortem acquisition refers to imaging from an unpowered source, such as a hard drive, CD, DVD or Blu-ray disc.

Because any direct access to the original drive will cause information on the disc to be altered, a write blocker is used on the original and all examinations occur on the copy.

Digital forensics software creates a hash value for the copy, verifying it came from the source drive. Hashing allows digital forensic evidence to be admitted in many courts worldwide.

Live acquisition refers to imaging from an active device, like a smartphone or tablet, or the RAM on a computer.

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