Computer forensics, also known as Cyber forensics or Digital forensics is the investigation of digital data gathered as evidence in criminal cases. Law enforcement agencies and private firms fight cybercrime using computer forensics to track, locate and extract digital information needed for criminal investigations. Computer forensics is a high-growth field, with huge potential for career advancement. Computer forensics industry is predicted to grow by 17% between 2016-2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Due to higher caseloads, state and local government are predicted to hire additional computer forensic science technicians in order to keep up with the demand of constantly changing landscape. Many people believe that computer forensics and cyber security are synonymous; they are, in fact, very different fields (though there is quite a bit of overlap in the work that they do, in terms of protecting the digital assets and intelligence of an organization). While Cyber security is focused on the prevention of cyber attacks, computer forensics is about handling the aftermath of an attack. Digital forensics professionals are called into action once a breach occurs, and work to identify the hack, understand the source, and recover any compromised data. Computer forensic investigators work within local, state, national, and international law enforcement agencies, as well as within personal investigation firms. The duties of a computer forensics investigator will vary depending on which of these types of organizations they are employed by. Computer forensics specialists search hard drives to uncover deleted or hidden files using file recovery programs and encryption decoding software. In addition to computers, these forensics specialists are also adept at gathering pertinent information from network servers, databases, smartphones, tablets, and other digital devices. Computer forensics can be a stressful field, as you often need to find information quickly for a criminal investigation and criminals can be highly skilled at technology.
Information Security Analysts
Information security analysts are responsible for planning and executing security measures to protect networking systems, computer systems, and essential data. The most common places of employment for information security analysts are governments, healthcare networks, commercials banks and financial institutions. This field is expected to grow by 28% between 2016 and 2026, which is much faster than the national average for all jobs.
Computer Systems Analysts
A computer systems analyst essentially assists a company use technology in the most efficient way possible. Through research and extensive evaluation, they determine what software could help a company operate more smoothly and what software would be a hindrance. Another key role computer system analyst’s play is in training company workers in how to use the software and troubleshoot any issues they might have.
A malware analyst is an expert at identifying cyber threats, such as worms, bots, and Trojan, viruses, in order to protect a company’s data. Some responsibilities of a malware analyst include examining a cyber attack and reverse-engineering the damage it has done. Some malware analysts may be tasked with developing prevention protocols to block future malware attacks.
Information Technology Auditor
An information technology auditor is responsible for examining a company’s infrastructure and determining security weaknesses in order to develop and prevent any cyber attacks from happening. Creating security plans are essential to this position, as well as working within a security team and communicating strategies with co-workers.
Forensic Computer Analyst
A forensic computer analyst often assists law enforcement agencies in cyber crimes by evaluating an illegal cyber attack. They must be able to collect information from the crime scene and extract data in order to provide information regarding what type of cyber attack occurred, who carried out the attack and what data was taken.
A security consultant is an expert at preventing cybersecurity threats by protecting network systems and computer systems from different types of malicious malware. Normal duties of a security consultant include installing and updating software to fit within the security plan, testing security solutions in advance of any attack and communicating developments within the company.
How to Become a Computer Forensics Investigator
Computer forensic investigators typically must earn a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or another similar area such as computer science. Some computer forensics professionals begin their careers in related areas such as law enforcement and combine their experience with a computer forensics training program and professional certification.
Here are recommended steps to beginning a career in computer forensics:-
Step 1: Earn Your Digital Computer Forensics Degree
Step 2: Get Certified as a Computer Forensics Specialist
Step 3: Find Your First Job
Here are some of the most common certifications:-
* Certified Forensic Computer Examiner (CFCE) – offered by The International Association of Computer Investigative Specialists
* Certified Computer Examiner (CCE) – offered by The International Society of Forensic Computer Examiners
* EnCase Certified Engineer (EnCE) – offered by Guidance Software
* Access Data Certified Examiner (ACE) – offered by Access Data
Computer forensics positions can be found at local, state, and federal government agencies, from city police departments to the National Security Agency (NSA), for investigating cyber attacks by criminals, overseas adversaries and terrorists). With years of professional experience and knowledge, computer forensics investigators can advance their career (and their salary) by becoming a senior forensics investigator or starting their own private practice or consulting agency where they can support a variety of clients.
(The author is Sr. Faculty (GCET Jammu) – Cyber Passionate – J&K)
Career opportunities in Computer Forensics