Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Dampier, David A.

Committee Member

Vaughn, Rayford

Committee Member

Bridges, Susan M.

Committee Member

Reese, Donna S.

Committee Member

Carver, Jeffrey C.

Other Advisors or Committee Members

Allen, Edward B.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Computer Science

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


James Worth Bagley College of Engineering


Department of Computer Science and Engineering


The motivation for computer forensics research includes the increase in crimes that involve the use of computers, the increasing capacity of digital storage media, a shortage of trained computer forensics technicians, and a lack of computer forensics standard practices. The hypothesis of this dissertation is that domain modeling of the computer forensics case environment can serve as a methodology for selecting keyword search terms and planning forensics examinations. This methodology can increase the quality of forensics examinations without significantly increasing the combined effort of planning and executing keyword searches. The contributions of this dissertation include: ? A computer forensics examination planning method that utilizes the analytical strengths and knowledge sharing abilities of domain modeling in artificial intelligence and software engineering, ? A computer forensics examination planning method that provides investigators and analysts with a tool for deriving keyword search terms from a case domain model, and ? The design and execution of experiments that illustrate the utility of the case domain modeling method. Three experiment trials were conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of case domain modeling, and each experiment trial used a distinct computer forensics case scenario: an identity theft case, a burglary and money laundering case, and a threatening email case. Analysis of the experiments supports the hypothesis that case domain modeling results in more evidence found during an examination with more effective keyword searching. Additionally, experimental data indicates that case domain modeling is most useful when the evidence disk has a relatively high occurrence of text-based documents and when vivid case background details are available. A pilot study and a case study were also performed to evaluate the utility of case domain modeling for typical law enforcement investigators. In these studies the subjects used case domain models in a computer forensics service solicitation activity. The results of these studies indicate that typical law enforcement officers have a moderate comprehension of the case domain modeling method and that they recognize a moderate amount of utility in the method. Case study subjects also indicated that the method would be more useful if supported by a semi-automated tool.



Computer Forensics||Digital Forensics||Computer Forensics Examination Planning||Domain Modeling||Domain Analysis||Digital Forensics Engineering