Digital Forensics Subdomains: The State of the Art and Future Directions

Arafat Al-Dhaqm, Richard Adeyemi Ikuesan, Victor R. Kebande, Shukor Abd Razak, George Grispos, Kim Kwang Raymond Choo, Bander Ali Saleh Al-Rimy, Abdulrahman A. Alsewari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


For reliable digital evidence to be admitted in a court of law, it is important to apply scientifically proven digital forensic investigation techniques to corroborate a suspected security incident. Mainly, traditional digital forensics techniques focus on computer desktops and servers. However, recent advances in digital media and platforms have seen an increased need for the application of digital forensic investigation techniques to other subdomains. This includes mobile devices, databases, networks, cloud-based platforms, and the Internet of Things (IoT) at large. To assist forensic investigators to conduct investigations within these subdomains, academic researchers have attempted to develop several investigative processes. However, many of these processes are domain-specific or describe domain-specific investigative tools. Hence, in this paper, we hypothesize that the literature is saturated with ambiguities. To further synthesize this hypothesis, a digital forensic model-orientated Systematic Literature Review (SLR) within the digital forensic subdomains has been undertaken. The purpose of this SLR is to identify the different and heterogeneous practices that have emerged within the specific digital forensics subdomains. A key finding from this review is that there are process redundancies and a high degree of ambiguity among investigative processes in the various subdomains. As a way forward, this study proposes a high-level abstract metamodel, which combines the common investigation processes, activities, techniques, and tasks for digital forensics subdomains. Using the proposed solution, an investigator can effectively organize the knowledge process for digital investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)152476-152502
Number of pages27
JournalIEEE Access
StatePublished - 2021


  • Digital forensics
  • IoT forensics
  • database forensics
  • digital forensic metamodel
  • mobile forensic
  • network forensics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering


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