Making evidence of cybercrime stand up in court should be easier after the European Commission released guidelines on how to investigate computer viruses, Web site hacking and online credit card fraud.

Just like physical evidence, any electronic evidence of online crime contained in Web site logs, emails or data files can easily be damaged during an investigation.

While police procedures on physical evidence have existed for a long time, the Commission said Friday its guidelines were the first to give comprehensive advice on tackling computer crime.

"The tools developed by the project represent the first complete end-to-end methodology to guide investigators through the difficult task of computer forensics,'' it said.

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