There is little debate that electronic technology including computers and the Internet are one of the most important developments of recent times. Tasks that took days to complete and that demanded hundreds of man hours to effectively execute can now be easily done at the touch of a button. But the growing importance of technology is not without its drawbacks with probably the most major one being internet and computer enabled crime.
The growing capability of computers and applications as well as the ever increasing level of interconnectivity and information sharing has made it easier for persons with malicious intent to use computers to plan terrorism attacks, conduct intellectual property theft, credit card fraud and hack computer systems to gain access to confidential information. The sophisticated nature of these crimes has seen the growing need for experts in computer forensics.
Computer forensics experts are law enforcement officers, private investigators or members of corporate audit teams whose core duties revolve around the identification, collection and analysis of electronic evidence that demonstrates the occurrence of a crime or lack thereof. Sometimes referred to as cyber cops, digital detectives or cyber investigators, their goal is not only reactive where they piece together pieces of computer data from a crime scene – it is also proactive where the computer forensics expert will recommend the best approaches that can be used to seal system security gaps and reduce the risk of computer based crime from materializing.
Computer forensic jobs will often be found in the military, law enforcement agencies, government intelligence outfits, private investigators office, technology security consultants and audit firms. To have better chances of being called up for a computer forensic job interview, one must have a degree in computer science, computer engineering, electronic engineering or a related discipline. Knowledge of the criminal justice system and especially laws around cyber crime and management of digital evidence including gathering and storing the evidence are key. Due to the sensitive nature of this role, persons working as computer forensic experts must obtain security clearance.
A good understanding of at least one major programming language with working knowledge of others is also important. Computer forensic experts must know the workings of computer storage devices and the major operating systems.
Many persons that end up in computer forensic careers do not necessarily start in this line. Working in the general IT industry or in the general IT security niche for at least two years provides a good foundation for understanding the core workings of computer systems and the areas of control weakness that cyber criminals may explore.
The details that these digital detectives have to sift through require that one have a keen eye for detail if they are not to miss anything. Other than technical computer skills, the forensic experts must be analytical and have high integrity. The ability to work well in a high pressure environment is a must as many times, the forensics expert will be required to provide rapid feedback on an adverse incident.
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