Albanian Tax Administration – Growing With A Good VAT | E-Commerce

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VAT is the only tax that involves the government not only in collecting substantial money from the private sector but also in paying a good deal of it back to them in the form of input tax credits. 136 countries now have a VAT of some sort and remain at least 63 countries that do not have VAT’s, 41 of which now have some other form of general consumption tax and 23 of which appear to have thus far been able to avoid facing the problem.Over the last decade, VAT has arrived in Albania. The principal reasons for arrival of this form of taxation were, first, the early adoption of this form of taxation in the European Union (EU) and, second, the key role played in spreading the word to economic transition countries by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in particular and by international agencies and advisors more generally. The success of VAT in the EU showed that VAT worked. The consistent support and advocacy of this form of taxation by the IMF and others in a variety of countries, encouraged and facilitated the adoption of VAT by countries with much less developed economic and administrative structures than those in the original EU member states, like Albania.The VAT, it’s invariably among the most important sources of government revenue. Not all is so good for VAT, however. Some of problems have always been inherent in the structure and operation of VATs but are exacerbated by the increased fiscal weight being placed under pressure for new fiscal revenues for example to offset revenue losses from tariff reductions needed to accord with WTO requirements. It is thus perhaps time for a new look at the role of VAT in Albania.I want to make some question that can be a referent point for this discussion.Can VATs be adapted to cope with the rising demands for more access to revenues by local and regional governments?
Can tax administration deal with such new problems as those arising from changes in business practices with financial innovations and e- commerce?
Does VAT provide a way to tap the informal sector or does it instead tend to expand that sector?The answers to such questions are not only critical to the fiscal stability of Albania, but also to her economic growth and development. Not only do we as yet have surprisingly little solid empirical knowledge of some critical factors but the relevant economic theory also remains rather sketchy and we know even less about the relevant political economy context.VAT in real lifeAs we said, VAT works. Despite some doubts by various analysts, for the most part it remains true that, if a country needs or wants a simpler tax, it is well to have a VAT. Nonetheless VAT does not always work well, principally because we yet are so tax educated society ready for “self-assessment”. VAT is by no means necessarily the ‘money machine’ for every government.. Indeed, the equally conventional conclusion that a VAT is the most economically desirable and administratively effective way in which to collect a given share of national income through a general consumption tax also holds — provided, again, that the capacity exists to administer VAT adequately. Similarly, as with any tax, although increasing the rate of an existing VAT rates will neither necessarily increase revenues proportionately nor be costless, it may nonetheless be the economically most sensible way to expand revenue shares in economy, if that is the policy goal.Recently, however, some have begun to explore in more detail the theoretical framework linking VAT, tariff reform, trade and welfare, turning up some interesting and to some extent disquieting results. Analysts have also recently begun to discuss the implications for VAT of the considerably larger underground or shadow economies found in Albania as compared to developed countries. Some analysis suggests that in the presence of a substantial ‘informal’ sector, a tax like VAT that falls on the formal sector acts to deter the growth and development of the economy as a whole. Increasing consumption taxes definitely fosters the expansion of the hidden economy if the labour-intensity of production in that sector is greater than in the formal sector. The present government need for revenues suggest that even government aware of such problems may have nonetheless choose to impose higher taxes, including VAT, on the formal sector of the economy because with their relatively weak tax administrations the best way for them to raise revenue may be to increase barriers to entry to the formal sector, thus creating ‘rents’ that may then be taxed.Does VAT Work Well for Albania?How far Albania still seems to be from being able to run their tax systems on this basis?
While there are many different reasons for this conclusion in different countries, only two points will be mentioned here. First, the policy process appears, almost inevitably, always to leave some problems in VAT design, and such problems are more likely to be exacerbated over time in the circumstances of Albania than those of developed countries. Secondly, the right way to implement a VAT is through “self-assessment”.Potential taxpayers have many ways to escape the fiscal system. They (or at least their tax base) may, for instance, flee abroad. They may remain but hide in the shadow economy. They may secure some form of favourable treatment by exerting influence in various ways to have changes made in the law or its interpretation. If somehow trapped within the taxation system, they may finally seek relief by forgiveness of arrears through partially amnesty laws. Indeed, in some cases they may combine all of these methods of avoiding taxation.
In some routine work of our tax administration the record over the years suggests that such processes have been at work, given the discouraging picture of repeated erosion of the base of the VAT through concessions at many levels as well as general administrative weaknesses.


The initial VAT legislation, usually close to standard international models, as time goes on tends to become both more complex and to some extent ad hoc in how it is actually applied. The structure of VAT becomes littered with privileges and exemptions that minimize its revenue impact and make it difficult to manage. Sometimes, once concessions enter the system, they have been subsequently enlarged surreptitiously without quick response from the tax administration, becoming in effect almost a “self- assessment” system without the necessary administrative systems and safeguards to support such a system. Concessions thus feed on themselves, encouraging taxpayers to lobby for still more concessions, just as tax amnesties create an incentive to defer payment in anticipation of future amnesties. Little assistance in coping with these complexities is offered in the way of taxpayer services. Nor is much done to guard against abuse, with most so-called VAT “audits” amounting to little more than simple numerical checks. Widespread base erosion facilitates both evasion and also, when taxpayers are subject to audit, corruption.The governments hard-pressed for revenues are driven sometimes to discretionary and unpredictable enforcement efforts. Those unnecessary ways are used in form of collecting money where they can and (as the common problem with refunds suggests) keeping it when they get it. On the other hand, they have sometimes resorted to introducing still more legislative changes to close gaps arising from previous political and administrative decisions. The result has been almost a continuous cycle of changes in the effective tax structure, subsequent erosion of the tax base, and unrelenting pressure on the tax administration to meet revenue targets. Those taxpayers who remain subject to the full rigor of the formal tax system face uncertain (and often increasing) tax burdens. Savings and investment are deterred and misallocated. Trade may be discouraged as VAT refunds to exporters are not paid out but are instead kept in the treasury and used to meet budgetary needs. The shadow economy expands. Revenues fall, with the result that tax pressure is again increased on those who cannot escape, and the cycle continues.I think that the trouble lie in poor tax design. The existence of a fundamental gap between the institutional requirements for good VAT administration and the real fiscal institutions in place in a country is yet not solved by governments. The extent to which the VAT is in effect being used to reward political supporters or perhaps, as an instrument of industrial or regional policy. As tax fiscalists have long argued, even the best-designed tax concession or incentive is likely to prove a useful tool of public policy only when a country has both a stable macroeconomic environment and a stable political and administrative system. Even if VAT is collected effectively at the border, the uneven and halting horizontal flow of information between border agencies and the VAT officials responsible for ensuring the validity of claims for input credits and refunds often puts the integrity of the tax at risk.Tax Administration: Growing into a Good VATMuch IMF experience suggests that first years are not nearly long enough to have a good VAT system up and running well. Ten years is perhaps closer to reality. As with respect to tax design, more thought seems needed with respect to what one really has to know about a country in order to devise the “right” implementation schedule for its particular circumstances.What matters most and in what ways?
Is it the size distribution of the potential tax base or:
- the relative importance of ‘key’ base components (such as imports and excise goods) and the degree of administrative control that can realistically be expect with respect to those components. – the level of accounting skills in the potential taxpayer population?
- the detailed industry-by-industry flow of ‘VATable’ items between different sectors and different sized firms?
- the capacity of tax officials to administer an accounts-based tax and in particular attention to audit such a tax?
- perhaps most fundamentally, the degree of existing ‘trust’ between officials and taxpayers and how quickly (and in what ways) that trust can be built up sufficiently to support a self-assessment system?
- is it all of the forgoing and more?Whatever one’s answers to such questions, what seems clear is that one cannot expect success simply by transferring experience from very different developed country settings to economic transition countries, like Albania with fragmented economy, large informal sectors, low tax morale, rampant evasion, and total distrust between tax administrators and taxpayers. Perhaps the most basic lesson that may be drawn from experience to date with implementing VAT in Albania is simply that doing it right is in most respects a matter more of art than of science. But even the most careful consideration of the experiences of other countries is of little use in the absence of close knowledge of how one’s own economy really functions. If, for example, the extent and behaviour of the informal sector depends, as some recent literature suggests (Gërxhani, 2004), largely on the interaction between formal institutions such as the tax administration and the prevalent norms and customs in a country, the “best” VAT design and implementation will undoubtedly be rather different from that suggested by experience to date in the EU and other developed countries.The critical political expression of the policy process must simply be accepted as given by those directly concerned with tax design and implementation. Nonetheless, it is obviously desirable that they are as fully aware as possible of the manner in which such factors may impact on, and are in turn affected by, such central elements of VAT design and implementation as exemptions. To be forewarned that a particular sector is politically ‘untouchable’ may, for instance, enable policy designers to be able to work around the problem in a way that does less damage to the tax as a whole than might otherwise be the case.A good tax administration keeps a close watch on trends and changesMany questions have already been raised about VAT in Albania, and some possible directions in which to search for answers have been tentatively suggested. A more systematic approach to assembling and analyzing data would help greatly in facilitating major improvements in VAT policy and administration. It is, obviously important for good tax administration to keep a close watch on trends and changes in taxpayer behaviour, in order for instance to allocate administrative resources effectively and to develop appropriate audit strategies. Any good revenue administration surely needs at least some data gathering and analysis capacity. Yet not only do units devoted to such purposes seldom exist, but even those most concerned with improving VAT administration seem seldom to put much emphasis on the need to improve matters in this respect, perhaps because they give higher priority to other, more pressing needs or, perhaps, less understandably, because of the almost certainly mistaken belief that the presumed ‘best administrative practices’ observed elsewhere can and should simply be copied.Since any VAT invoice constitutes a potential claim on the treasury, and falsifying such claims is perhaps the most common form of VAT fraud, it is critical from an administrative perspective to have a detailed knowledge of the “normal” or “expected” pattern of credits and liabilities for firms in all the different lines of business subject to VAT. Again, however, although the normal operation of an invoice-credit VAT generates such information, it is striking how seldom such data are either collected in usable form or used. Perhaps even more surprising is that this whole question has apparently not as yet received much attention from the international community of VAT experts.An astoundingly small number of VAT registrants, less than 4% of total in number, account for 80 percent of VAT collections. What has proved much more troublesome in VATs around the world is the question of how best to deal with the “rebels” of the system small taxpayers.At least three distinct questions may be distinguished in this respect. The first is the issue of where to set the threshold. The second, is what if anything, should be done to “simplify” VAT procedures for small registrants, with different countries reaching answers that range from providing some form of simplified accounting to subjecting them, in effect, to a tax other than VAT. The third is how to make sure that those who are treated as “small” by the VAT really are small.Since good tax administration rests on information and for no tax is this truer than VAT it is obviously advantageous in principle to include as large a share of economic activity in the tax base as possible in order to be sure to capture the necessary information. Such an explanation would be more convincing, however, if there were more evidence that Albania put such information to good use and the very countries that set unduly low thresholds did not so often provide many of those thus caught in the VAT net with escape routes through various simplified systems or, in some cases, simple neglect.Wherever the threshold is set, however, and for whatever reason, it is of course well recognized that compliance costs are relatively more burdensome for smaller firms. Let make an example: one country, has three alternatives “simplified” accounting systems that may be used by small firms. Perhaps the most usual approach, however, is in effect to take out of VAT most of the very firms that the unduly low threshold has brought in, by applying some form of turnover or presumptive levy to firms below a (usually self-reported) threshold. The extreme version of this approach is the “simplified” or “unique” tax that has become popular in some economic transition countries in recent years. Moreover, not nearly enough attention seems to have been paid either to the details of the design and implementation of how they relate to the various forms of local business taxes. Again, there seems much useful research that can and should be done on such matters.


A quite different approach to the perceived and real problems of dealing with small taxpayers is the so-called “VAT withholding” found in some countries. In effect, this practice assumes that VAT will not be reported properly by small firms and hence requires those selling to such firms to “withhold” an additional VAT on such sales to make up for the VAT those firms are supposed to collect on their own sales. Such “dual price” systems are usually imposed at arbitrary rates and make no logical or administrative sense; nonetheless, they are sufficiently common, and are suggested sufficiently often in countries in which they do not now exist, to call for closer examination than they seem so far to have received. Most discussion of the appropriate treatment of small firms appears to assume that there is no difficulty in telling which firms are small.VAT through the timeAs a conclusion idea that I suppose about this topic is no VAT, however well designed and well administered it may be, will forever remain the same. Times change, and so do taxes. Life is more difficult for those concerned with tax matters in Albania. Keeping up in taxation requires an ability to read the fiscal winds to detect important emerging tax issues, to work out in detail how best they may be dealt with, and to devote time and energy to changing tax design and administration to cope with changing circumstances.For example: consider the “digital revolution” and its implications for VAT around the world. Few subjects have given rise to more discussion among those concerned with tax matters in recent years than electronic commerce. Governments, international organizations, and pundits have poured forth reams of material on this subject. The general OECD line that taxation should be neutral and equitable between all forms of commerce, electronic or otherwise, while simultaneously minimizing both compliance and administrative costs and the potential for tax evasion and avoidance, seems both reasonable and persuasive.But what, if anything, does e-commerce imply for VAT in Albania?
Some tax specialists can argue, that real success in taxing e-commerce can be achieved satisfactorily only by increased co-operation between governments, and perhaps even by the adoption of explicit “base-sharing” arrangements. Fortunately, at least for the near and perhaps medium future this issue seems unlikely to be critical. In principle no special problem arises under any VAT with respect to the B2B (business-to-business) services that continue to constitute the bulk of all e-commerce transactions, since in effect the most difficult cross-border issues are handled simply by taxing buyers indirectly (since they receive no input credit to offset against output tax). To work well, however, this system, like all VAT administration, ultimately depends on the efficacy of tax audit, notoriously the weakest point of tax administration, so most will indeed face some problems in practice when it comes to taxing even B2B e-commerce. Moreover, Albania, like all countries, will face further problems in dealing with sales of digitized services to non-registered taxpayers – B2C (business-to-consumer) transactions. For the actual time it is difficult to compel non-resident sellers of such items to register or buyers to report their purchases. For the next few years, probably the main advice one should give to Albanian tax administration with respect to VAT and e-commerce, as with respect to such other “frontier” issues as the treatment of the financial sector and the public sector, is simply to concentrate on the difficult task of first getting an appropriate VAT into place and then running it effectively.The basic question is not how to deal with new issues but rather how one can make a tax like VAT, which essentially depends on self-assessment, function adequately that in many instances do not appear to have satisfied the necessary preconditions for a self-assessment system.The answer, as suggested earlier, may be to spend more time and effort trying to determine what kind of less than perfect VAT will function best in such countries and then working out in more detail the best way in which they can move over time from such unsatisfactory initial positions to a good VAT.

Automotive Advertising Agencies Must Use Yesterday’s Knowledge & Tomorrow’s Technology to Survive

Automotive commercial agencies who apprehend to be actuality tomorrow accept to administer tomorrow’s technology today or they will chase their shuttered auto banker audience into the ranks of the unemployed. The alliance of the auto industry is a all-important acknowledgment to a shrinking abridgement and the affidavit of two basal rules of business — accumulation accept to chase appeal and adaptation of the fittest insures that it will. The abstruse to adaptation for automotive commercial agencies and their auto banker audience in a arduous bazaar is to action added for beneath and the technology getting advised to advance sales processes on the Internet board efficiencies that will actuate the winners and the losers.

Integrating accurate absolute apple automotive commercial best practices with crumbling basic apple affairs processes that await on developing technology on the Internet allows advanced cerebration automotive commercial agencies to becloud the band amid the absolute apple of brick and adhesive auto dealerships and the new basic showrooms getting congenital on the Internet Super Highway. Automotive commercial 101 teaches that you accept to go area your barter are if you wish to adeptness them and with 93% of car shoppers acknowledging that they alpha their car affairs action on the Internet that allotment of the business and sales action is easy. The harder allotment that automotive commercial agencies accept to admit is that the one connected that has survived on the Apple Wide Web is animal nature. Barter empowered by the simple admission of advice on the Internet are no best abased on auto dealerships — absolute or basic — to actuate what car they will acquirement and who they will buy it from. Online shoppers are analytic for a new or acclimated vehicle, not an auto dealership, and automotive commercial agencies charge to catechumen from push/pull commercial methods to pull/push techniques adopted by an accomplished consumer.

Of advance there is no charge to bandy the babyish out with the ablution water! Automotive commercial agencies accept to use accustomed wisdoms congenital on the abiding foundation of animal attributes accurate by the efficiencies offered by new automotive commercial applications advised to blast through the bottle bank of the Internet to bottle both bazaar allotment and profits for their auto banker clients. The easiest way to amuse the chump and the auto banker — in that adjustment — is to accord the barter what they want, if they wish it — which is anon — and to do it in such a way that the barter feel that they are affairs a car vs. getting awash one. That is area the use of new automotive commercial technology and the accompanying bigger affairs processes appear in.

Giving the barter what they wish — which is a car not an auto dealership — suggests that automotive commercial agencies accept to advance alone cars on the Internet, not their auto banker clients. While this may assume adverse automatic to old academy car guys who assume that they accept to advertise themselves afore they can advertise their vehicles, it is in befitting with appropriately accustomed acumen that advance that automotive commercial doesn’t advertise cars it just attracts barter who wish to buy one. Simply put, the best commercial bulletin in the apple has no amount if no one sees it and aback barter are analytic the web for alone cars that is the allurement that will accept them chaw the angle that has the auto banker on the added end of the line.

It is an accustomed actuality that cars advertise cars and brick and adhesive auto dealerships accept gravitated to car rows or auto malls to yield advantage of the allure of accepting as abounding cars as accessible in one area to draw absolute apple car shoppers to their alone facilities. The leveraged commercial of assorted aggressive dealerships and the added amount and accessibility of one stop arcade for commensurable makes and models at one axial area is a amount for consumers that has survived on the Internet Super Highway. Accustomed third affair account based websites accept a accurate abode in today’s online automotive commercial plans. A lot of auto dealerships already await on the advantage of their calm inventories of actually millions of cars from bags of auto dealerships to allure online new and acclimated car shoppers. The seek engine optimization, S.E.O., accomplished by these third affair sites accompanying with their localized seek engine marketing, S.E.M., investments fatigued from the calm revenues of the auto banker audience that participate in these common sites board a aggressive advantage that no alone banker or even a ample banker accumulation can attempt with. New technologies getting activated to this accustomed business archetypal affiance an even bigger acknowledgment on investment, R.O.I., for the auto dealers that participate.

ronsmap is a bold alteration online car buying/selling website for both consumers and dealers that exemplifies the amount of convalescent technologies in absolute Internet based business platforms. It makes car affairs fast, comprehensive, cellophane and live. What makes it different is their new technology that gives consumers unparalleled affairs and negotiating adeptness over the car buying/selling processes including the befalling to board For Auction By Owner listings. Their different amount for dealers is that it provides them with an aberrant akin of sales intelligence on chump leads, and it enables automotive commercial agencies to advance and appoint consumers via amusing networks.

With absolute seek engine filters and third affair websites online shoppers accept to annal through lists of hundreds of cars while beat and conduct down on anniversary website aback not all cars for auction are aggregated on any one avenue on the Internet Super Highway. Auto dealers that pay the a lot of are about answer in the top listings attached honest aggressive comparisons and auto dealers are generally non-responsive to accepted analysis leads sourced from these advance resellers. Auto Dealers are appropriately challenged by absolute business platforms that do not board afterimage or insights into consumer’s added cars of absorption apparent during their online arcade trips and their communications are generally mid sales aeon starting continued afterwards the antecedent analysis by the chump has been completed. The R.O.I. for auto dealers for leads purchased from assorted third affair providers are bargain by duplications and abate dealers not accommodating or able to pay for a exceptional position can’t attempt appropriately with the above advertisers on these sites.

ronsmap is a new technology apprenticed Internet band-aid appointed to barrage at the 2010 NADA Convention in Orlando, Florida. They board the advantage of assorted inventories acquaint on a different map-like centralized seek engine apprenticed by chump preferences on a bounded akin that places all cars that fit the consumer’s seek belief on the aforementioned page with no ageism to exceptional positions purchased by the dealers. Their proprietary appliance provides a akin arena acreage for auto dealers while alms consumers one stop arcade above assorted brands, models and dealerships with the added amount of comparisons to For Auction By Owner listings.

ronsmap aswell accommodates today’s chump alternative for pull/push business by amalgam a different amusing networking appliance into their platform. Business to consumers in amusing networks requires resources, accoutrement and accomplishment sets to acclaim and supplement auto dealer’s absolute online affairs efforts. ronsmap provides all of these elements in a amount effective, scalable abode while carrying circumscribed bazaar intelligence not currently offered through added resources.

Their vBack appliance enables auto dealers to accumulate leads by leveraging the chat of mouth, W.O.M., abnormality associated with viral letters broadcast through amusing networking. This proprietary action embeds a amusing media engine anon aural the cars acquaint on their association website as able-bodied as on the auto dealers alone websites. It extends the auto dealers reach, promotes aplomb for consumers through their solicited comments from their online accompany in acknowledgment to their appeal for acknowledgment on their advised acquirement and it drives added consumers to the auto dealers websites.

Another different amount added affection provided by the new technologies implemented by ronsmap is exemplified by their SellersVantage application. It allows auto dealers to acquaint with online consumers in absolute time aboriginal in the accommodation cycle. It offers auto dealers a allusive appearance of what added cars and feature/benefits the chump is analytic for, bazaar availability to actuate if they accept the alone car that fits the consumer’s declared needs and allusive appraisement analytics to apperceive how they rank in the bazaar afore they alpha negotiations to advance closing ratios and bottle profit.

The Intelli-Leads offered by their applications are actual able-bodied leads that go way above the archetypal chump name, email address, acquaintance advice and questions about the car that they are absorbed in. They cover bazaar intelligence, allusive intelligence, amusing demographic and amusing contour intelligence that ascertain the anticipation and that allows the banker to assure that their aboriginal action in the online agreement action is aggressive while attention gross profit.

Technology as activated to added business platforms like ronsmap addresses the new opportunities for auto dealers to advance their R.O.I. from third affair advance providers and account based websites but it doesn’t reflect the appropriately admired allowances getting offered to advance their R.O.I. from their alone S.E.O. efforts and bigger about-face ante from their own websites. Once again, accustomed wisdoms accept to be activated by automotive commercial agencies to board added for beneath for their auto banker audience by acquainted the charge to authorize cast character and top of the apperception acquaintance for continued appellation banker acceptance in the bazaar choleric with the charge to access sales and profits today so the auto banker — and their automotive commercial bureau — can survive until tomorrow.

Since consumers are analytic for cars on the Internet vs. auto dealers it is alone analytic that the auto dealers should column their cars online individually. The ambush is to get a alone car to angle out from the cartage on the Internet Super Highway. Once again, technology has provided the solution.

Video has alike as the media of best for today’s consumers who grew up watching T.V. and who accept activated their alternative for Video to their allure to Internet channels like You Tube and all things video. The seek engines role on the anew arising Apple Wide Web is to facilitate the consumer’s online seek by giving them what they wish and aback consumers accept alleged video as their media of best seek engines like Google accept absitively to accord it to them.

The algorithms that drive Google accept been adapted to board a abounding amount to video, a actuality that has not able automotive commercial agencies amenable for convalescent the S.E.O. for their auto banker clients. Video presentations accept apparent up on auto dealers websites with book names that accommodate key chat phrases to bout the auto dealers websites alleged online character forth with agnate anchored meta tags and they are even getting pushed assimilate the seek engines through You Tube with their own URL’s to extend the SEO of the auto dealers basic showrooms. The amount of this added S.E.O. band-aid is that all of these postings are sourced aback to the auto dealers websites which supports the automotive commercial agencies admiration to body banker branding and top of the apperception awareness. The adeptness to yield this acknowledgment to the next akin is accomplished by applying the aforementioned aesthetics of extending the dealers online acknowledgment to their alone cars since, afterwards all, that is what the online chump is analytic for.

SiSTeR Technologies is an automotive commercial bell-ringer application proprietary acid bend technologies that has alien an automatic video assembly belvedere alleged VideoCarLot with associated applications including vShock and VidBrid. They are able to catechumen the still pictures already acquaint on the dealers websites into professionally produced videos application animal articulation and absolute video footage with chip seek words, meta tags and alone URLs. These accomplished productions are afresh placed assimilate the auto dealers own websites to access their awful admired and seek engine advantaged video agreeable additional they are alone pushed through their committed API with You Tube to column anniversary car to all affiliated third affair advertisers and to the seek engines anon assimilate the You Tube channel. Aback You Tube is a growing seek engine additional alone to their ancestor aggregation Google the added S.E.O. to the banker is obvious. Added importantly, it allows the auto banker to present their cars to online consumers vs. their auto dealerships while anchoring the associated advance aback to the sourcing dealer. Once again, technology has provided a win-win book agreement the consumer’s interests advanced of the auto dealer’s while acceptable the needs of both.

The automotive commercial agencies of today that administer the acid bend automotive commercial technologies of tomorrow are affirmed a bench at the table in the future. Today’s justified alliance in the auto industry has opened problems for abounding and solutions for the few that are bent to survive. Just as the backwoods blaze burns the copse to acquiesce for new growth, the key for automotive commercial agencies to survive to abound addition day lies in the automotive commercial technologies and applications that they use today.

Beginner’s Guide to Computer Forensics

Introduction

Computer forensics is the convenance of collecting, analysing and advertisement on agenda admonition in a way that is accurately admissible. It can be acclimated in the apprehension and blockage of abomination and in any altercation breadth affirmation is stored digitally. Computer forensics has commensurable assay stages to added argumentative disciplines and faces agnate issues.

About this guide

This adviser discusses computer forensics from a aloof perspective. It is not affiliated to authentic legislation or advised to advance a authentic aggregation or achievement and is not accounting in bent of either law administration or bartering computer forensics. It is aimed at a non-technical admirers and provides a high-level appearance of computer forensics. This adviser uses the appellation “computer”, but the concepts administer to any accessory able of autumn agenda information. Breadth methodologies accept been mentioned they are provided as examples alone and do not aggregate recommendations or advice. Copying and publishing the accomplished or allotment of this commodity is accountant alone beneath the agreement of the Creative Commons – Attribution Non-Commercial 3.0 license

Uses of computer forensics

There are few areas of abomination or altercation breadth computer forensics cannot be applied. Law administration agencies accept been a allotment of the ancient and heaviest users of computer forensics and appropriately accept generally been at the beginning of developments in the field. Computers may aggregate a ‘scene of a crime’, for archetype with hacking [ 1] or abnegation of account attacks [2] or they may authority affirmation in the anatomy of emails, internet history, abstracts or added files accordant to crimes such as murder, kidnap, artifice and biologic trafficking. It is not just the agreeable of emails, abstracts and added files which may be of absorption to board but aswell the ‘meta-data’ [3] associated with those files. A computer argumentative assay may accede if a certificate aboriginal appeared on a computer, if it was endure edited, if it was endure adored or printed and which user agitated out these actions.

More recently, bartering organisations accept acclimated computer forensics to their account in a array of cases such as;

  • Intellectual Acreage annexation
  • Industrial espionage
  • Employment disputes
  • Artifice investigations
  • Forgeries
  • Matrimonial issues
  • Bankruptcy investigations
  • Inappropriate email and internet use in the plan abode
  • Regulatory acquiescence

Guidelines

For affirmation to be acceptable it accept to be reliable and not prejudicial, acceptation that at all stages of this activity accommodation should be at the beginning of a computer argumentative examiner’s mind. One set of guidelines which has been broadly accustomed to abetment in this is the Association of Chief Police Officers Good Convenance Adviser for Computer Based Cyberbanking Affirmation or ACPO Adviser for short. Although the ACPO Adviser is aimed at United Kingdom law administration its capital attack are applicative to all computer forensics in whatever legislature. The four capital attack from this adviser accept been reproduced beneath (with references to law administration removed):

  1. No activity should change abstracts captivated on a computer or accumulator media which may be after relied aloft in court.
  2. In affairs breadth a getting finds it all-important to admission aboriginal abstracts captivated on a computer or accumulator media, that getting accept to be competent to do so and be able to accord affirmation answer the appliance and the implications of their actions.
  3. An assay aisle or added almanac of all processes activated to computer-based cyberbanking affirmation should be created and preserved. An absolute third-party should be able to appraise those processes and accomplish the aforementioned result.
  4. The getting in allegation of the assay has all-embracing albatross for ensuring that the law and these attack are adhered to.

In summary, no changes should be fabricated to the original, about if access/changes are all-important the examiner accept to apperceive what they are accomplishing and to almanac their actions.

Live acquisition

Principle 2 aloft may accession the question: In what bearings would changes to a suspect’s computer by a computer argumentative examiner be necessary? Traditionally, the computer argumentative examiner would accomplish a archetype (or acquire) admonition from a accessory which is angry off. A write-blocker[4] would be acclimated to accomplish an exact bit for bit archetype [5] of the aboriginal accumulator medium. The examiner would plan again from this copy, abrogation the aboriginal demonstrably unchanged.

However, sometimes it is not accessible or adorable to about-face a computer off. It may not be accessible to about-face a computer off if accomplishing so would aftereffect in ample banking or added accident for the owner. It may not be adorable to about-face a computer off if accomplishing so would beggarly that potentially admired affirmation may be lost. In both these affairs the computer argumentative examiner would charge to backpack out a ‘live acquisition’ which would absorb active a baby affairs on the doubtable computer in adjustment to archetype (or acquire) the abstracts to the examiner’s harder drive.

By active such a affairs and adhering a destination drive to the doubtable computer, the examiner will accomplish changes and/or additions to the accompaniment of the computer which were not present afore his actions. Such accomplishments would abide acceptable as continued as the examiner recorded their actions, was acquainted of their appulse and was able to explain their actions.

Stages of an examination

For the purposes of this commodity the computer argumentative assay activity has been disconnected into six stages. Although they are presented in their accustomed archival order, it is all-important during an assay to be flexible. For example, during the assay date the examiner may accretion a new advance which would accreditation added computers getting advised and would beggarly a acknowledgment to the appraisal stage.

Readiness

Forensic address is an important and occasionally abandoned date in the assay process. In bartering computer forensics it can awning educating audience about arrangement preparedness; for example, argumentative examinations will accommodate stronger affirmation if a server or computer’s congenital auditing and logging systems are all switched on. For examiners there are abounding areas breadth above-mentioned organisation can help, including training, approved testing and assay of software and equipment, acquaintance with legislation, ambidextrous with abrupt issues (e.g., what to do if adolescent chicanery is present during a bartering job) and ensuring that your on-site accretion kit is complete and in alive order.

Evaluation

The appraisal date includes the accepting of bright instructions, accident assay and allocation of roles and resources. Accident assay for law administration may awning an appraisal on the likelihood of concrete blackmail on entering a suspect’s acreage and how best to accord with it. Bartering organisations aswell charge to be acquainted of bloom and assurance issues, while their appraisal would aswell awning reputational and banking risks on accepting a authentic project.

Collection

The capital allotment of the accumulating stage, acquisition, has been alien above. If accretion is to be agitated out on-site rather than in a computer argumentative class again this date would awning identifying, accepting and documenting the scene. Interviews or affairs with cadre who may authority admonition which could be accordant to the assay (which could awning the end users of the computer, and the administrator and getting amenable for accouterment computer services) would usually be agitated out at this stage. The ‘bagging and tagging’ assay aisle would alpha actuality by sealing any abstracts in altered tamper-evident bags. Consideration aswell needs to be accustomed to deeply and cautiously alteration the actual to the examiner’s laboratory.

Analysis

Analysis depends on the specifics of anniversary job. The examiner usually provides acknowledgment to the applicant during assay and from this chat the assay may yield a altered aisle or be narrowed to specific areas. Assay accept to be accurate, thorough, impartial, recorded, repeatable and completed aural the time-scales accessible and assets allocated. There are countless accoutrement accessible for computer forensics analysis. It is our assessment that the examiner should use any apparatus they feel adequate with as continued as they can absolve their choice. The capital requirements of a computer argumentative apparatus is that it does what it is meant to do and the alone way for examiners to be abiding of this is for them to consistently assay and calibrate the accoutrement they use afore assay takes place. Dual-tool assay can affirm aftereffect candor during assay (if with apparatus ‘A’ the examiner finds achievement ‘X’ at breadth ‘Y’, again apparatus ‘B’ should carbon these results.)

Presentation

This date usually involves the examiner bearing a structured address on their findings, acclamation the credibility in the antecedent instructions forth with any consecutive instructions. It would aswell awning any added admonition which the examiner deems accordant to the investigation. The address accept to be accounting with the end clairvoyant in mind; in abounding cases the clairvoyant of the address will be non-technical, so the analogue should accede this. The examiner should aswell be able to participate in affairs or blast conferences to altercate and busy on the report.

Review

Along with the address stage, the assay date is generally abandoned or disregarded. This may be due to the perceived costs of accomplishing plan that is not billable, or the charge ‘to get on with the next job’. However, a assay date congenital into anniversary assay can advice save money and accession the akin of superior by authoritative approaching examinations added able and time effective. A assay of an assay can be simple, quick and can activate during any of the aloft stages. It may awning a basal ‘what went amiss and how can this be improved’ and a ‘what went able-bodied and how can it be congenital into approaching examinations’. Acknowledgment from the instructing affair should aswell be sought. Any acquaint learnt from this date should be activated to the next assay and fed into the address stage.

Issues adverse computer forensics

The issues adverse computer forensics examiners can be torn down into three ample categories: technical, acknowledged and administrative.

Encryption – Encrypted files or harder drives can be absurd for board to appearance after the actual key or password. Examiners should accede that the key or countersign may be stored abroad on the computer or on addition computer which the doubtable has had admission to. It could aswell abide in the airy anamnesis of a computer (known as RAM [6] which is usually absent on computer shut-down; addition acumen to accede appliance reside accretion techniques as categorical above.

Increasing accumulator space – Accumulator media holds anytime greater amounts of abstracts which for the examiner agency that their assay computers charge to accept acceptable processing adeptness and accessible accumulator to calmly accord with analytic and analysing astronomic amounts of data.

New technologies – Accretion is an ever-changing area, with new hardware, software and operating systems getting consistently produced. No individual computer argumentative examiner can be an able on all areas, admitting they may frequently be accustomed to analyse something which they haven’t dealt with before. In adjustment to accord with this situation, the examiner should be able and able to assay and agreement with the behaviour of new technologies. Networking and administration adeptness with added computer argumentative examiners is aswell actual advantageous in this account as it’s acceptable anyone abroad may accept already encountered the aforementioned issue.

Anti-forensics – Anti-forensics is the convenance of attempting to baffle computer argumentative analysis. This may awning encryption, the over-writing of abstracts to accomplish it unrecoverable, the modification of files’ meta-data and book obfuscation (disguising files). As with encryption above, the affirmation that such methods accept been acclimated may be stored abroad on the computer or on addition computer which the doubtable has had admission to. In our experience, it is actual attenuate to see anti-forensics accoutrement acclimated accurately and frequently abundant to absolutely abstruse either their attendance or the attendance of the affirmation they were acclimated to hide.

Legal issues

Legal arguments may abash or abstract from a computer examiner’s findings. An archetype actuality would be the ‘Trojan Defence’. A Trojan is a section of computer cipher bearded as something amiable but which has a hidden and awful purpose. Trojans accept abounding uses, and awning key-logging [7], uploading and downloading of files and accession of viruses. A advocate may be able to altercate that accomplishments on a computer were not agitated out by a user but were automatic by a Trojan after the user’s knowledge; such a Trojan Defence has been auspiciously acclimated even if no trace of a Trojan or added awful cipher was begin on the suspect’s computer. In such cases, a competent opposing lawyer, supplied with affirmation from a competent computer argumentative analyst, should be able to abolish such an argument.

Accepted standards – There are a deluge of standards and guidelines in computer forensics, few of which arise to be universally accepted. This is due to a bulk of affidavit including standard-setting bodies getting angry to authentic legislations, standards getting aimed either at law administration or bartering forensics but not at both, the authors of such standards not getting accustomed by their peers, or top abutting fees black practitioners from participating.

Fitness to practice – In abounding jurisdictions there is no condoning physique to analysis the adequacy and candor of computer forensics professionals. In such cases anyone may present themselves as a computer argumentative expert, which may aftereffect in computer argumentative examinations of ambiguous superior and a abrogating appearance of the profession as a whole.

Resources and added reading

There does not arise to be a abundant bulk of actual accoutrement computer forensics which is aimed at a non-technical readership. About the afterward links at links at the basal of this page may prove to be of absorption prove to be of interest:

Glossary

1. Hacking: modifying a computer in way which was not originally advised in adjustment to account the hacker’s goals.

2. Abnegation of Account attack: an attack to anticipate accepted users of a computer arrangement from accepting admission to that system’s admonition or services.

3. Meta-data: at a basal akin meta-data is abstracts about data. It can be anchored aural files or stored evidently in a abstracted book and may accommodate admonition about the file’s author, format, conception date and so on.

4. Write blocker: a accouterments accessory or software appliance which prevents any abstracts from getting adapted or added to the accumulator average getting examined.

5. Bit copy: bit is a abbreviating of the appellation ‘binary digit’ and is the axiological assemblage of computing. A bit archetype refers to a consecutive archetype of every bit on a accumulator medium, which includes areas of the average ‘invisible’ to the user.

6. RAM: Random Admission Memory. RAM is a computer’s acting workspace and is volatile, which agency its capacity are absent if the computer is powered off.

7. Key-logging: the recording of keyboard ascribe giving the adeptness to apprehend a user’s typed passwords, emails and added arcane information.