A Career in Computer Forensics
Computer forensics is a division of computer forensic science, pertaining specifically to data found on computers and other electronic storage media. It is an exciting field in which many different career paths may lead. The field involves finding digital evidence from a computer system, such as files, emails, documents and video recordings.
One area that computer forensics professionals specialize in is criminal investigations. Many criminal cases require the use of computers. Computer forensics professionals can analyze the digital evidence, and determine if the evidence is sufficient to file charges against a person or another party in a court of law. In some instances, criminal investigations may call for the testimony of an expert, like a forensic computer scientist. These experts are generally employed by law enforcement agencies, or by government agencies that have the authority to investigate and prosecute crimes. They perform a number of different duties in this field including carrying out computer forensics tests, examining electronic media, analyzing data obtained from storage devices, determining the physical state of storage devices, and reconstructing the software and hardware processes that led up to the time and date of the event.
Computer investigators also investigate crimes that involve organizations and governments. For example, some computer forensics professionals work on corporate criminal investigations and large-scale international corporations. In these cases, the professionals may be asked to speak with current and former employees of the organization, as well as any and all outsiders. They may also be called upon to investigate crimes that have happened within the company’s business or finances. Sometimes, computer forensics experts are asked to coordinate investigations with law enforcement agencies.
Computer forensics professionals are also asked to review evidence that is collected by law enforcement agencies and take part in the execution of their duties. In many cases, they will execute search warrants and communicate with law enforcement officials on behalf of their employers. Some will collaborate with FBI agents and detectives on a regular basis. Others will serve as examiners, collecting evidence to be analyzed by forensic scientists. It depends on the jurisdiction and the job profile of the forensics professionals.
There are numerous benefits for those involved in the field of computer forensic studies. First, the skills and knowledge gained are applicable in a wide range of careers and settings. Therefore, those interested in forensics can advance to senior positions in law enforcement agencies, private security firms, insurance companies, and think tanks. Even small town police departments have been known to hire computer forensic experts to conduct digital crime investigations.
Computer forensics professionals may also specialize in a particular area of the field. For example, forensic analysts can specialize in computer data recovery. The job can be particularly complex because certain types of data recovery require specialized equipment and expertise. These professionals may also work as a component of corporate security teams, performing tasks in response to an internal or external threat or investigating a cyber crime that has been perpetrated from within a company.
As stated before, there are many different jobs available in the computer forensic science field. Those interested in investigating a criminal offense will be employed either by state or federal law enforcement agencies, performing various investigative tasks such as fingerprinting, data recovery, and identifying suspects. Other analysts specialize in working as private investigators, performing tasks in connection to a private client’s investigation.
Private investigators, while not requiring a college degree, do require extensive investigation training and investigation experience. Computer forensics professionals who perform criminal investigations also commonly act as defense attorneys, assisting criminal defendants in resolving legal issues that arose during the investigations. This type of professional position requires intensive training and work experience, often occurring in connection with a private client’s legal case. While these positions require a great deal of education and work experience in the field of computer forensics, they are rewarding and interesting positions for those interested in pursuing a career in forensics.