What Is Digital Forensics?
In a world where an increasing amount of jobs are opening up because of advances in digital technologies, it shouldn’t be surprising that a career such as digital forensics is seeing increased popularity.
In the past the majority of forensics jobs were offered to scientists and investigators.
But the growth in the use of computers, and the associated growth in white collar and computer crime has meant there is an increasing amount of digital forensics jobs available to people with the right skills and training.
But what is digital forensics?
Digital Forensics Jobs Explained
Simply put, the field of digital forensics is all about recovering digital data from a wide range of digital and computer devices.
The most obvious reason that this data would need to be identified and extracted is to be used as evidence in some sort of case related to computer crime.
But there are a wide range of other investigations that would require the skills of a digital forensics investigator.
There are four key kinds of investigations that would use the services of computer and digital forensics analysts.
Four Kinds Of Digital Forensic Investigations
There are many situations in which evidence can be extracted from a digital device and used in court. This applies to both criminal cases such as computer crime as well as civil cases like divorce settlements.
Often times in a criminal investigation. a digital forensic examiner will be needed to follow a trail of evidence in order to identify potential suspects, as well as recover any proceeds of crime by following the digital paper trail
In civil cases, there is a process known as discovery in which both sides of the case are required to provide their opponent with any materials that could possibly be relevant to the case, or lead to the discovery of other evidence which can be useful.
eDiscovery (electronic discovery) is simply the transfer of discovery information which is in a digital format and has often been recovered by a a digital forensics analyst.
Unfortunately in the digital age, a growing problem is the hacking of computers and networks by intruders either for malicious or mischievous purposes.
In cases where such an intrusion has occurred, a digital forensic investigator may be called in to try and identify how the intrusion occurred, what damage has been done and ideally who the intruder was.
Digital Forensic Specializations
Like many careers there are a number of opportunities to specialize within the field of digital forensics. These specializations are generally related to the type of device that you’re dealing with.
The most common branches are: computer forensics (which is often used interchangeably with the term digital forensics), mobile forensics; network forensics and database forensics
Digital Forensics Training
So if you think that a career in digital forensic might be something you’d be suited to, the next question you’re probably going to ask is…’how do I become a digital forensic investigator?’
Like most jobs in forensics there is going to be some study and training involved, but fortunately for you it’s going to be nowhere near as
expensive intensive as some other disciplines such as forensic psychology, or forensic pathology.
Pursuing a career in this field will obviously require you to have a very strong background in computers, so in all likelihood you will need some sort of degree in IT or computer science or something similar.
Digital Forensics Certification
Along with this degree you will also benefit from having some sort of digital forensics certification.
Because of the wide variety of computer crimes being committed, coupled with the variety of devices and computer systems used by individuals and businesses, there are a range of different courses you can take that will further your knowledge in the field of digital forensics.
The courses you ultimately choose will depend on your own interests and skills, and they generally range from home study style courses using online learning or DVD’s, to seminar and classroom style learning of varying durations from days to weeks and possibly months .
Digital Forensics Degree
While the majority of people will enter into the digital forensic field from some other computer related background, if you know from the very beginning that this is the job for you then it’s now possible to enroll in a digital forensics degree.
There are a number of options available at both an undergraduate and a postgraduate level. These degree programs will typically be run through the computer science department.
Digital Forensics Salary
So if all of this is sounding good to you so far, then the next question is how much can you earn?
The discipline of digital forensics is relatively new, so an average digital forensics salary hasn’t really been established.
You can definitely expect to earn in excess of $50,000 a year, and like many careers in this industry (i.e technology), if you prove yourself to be someone who is extremely skilled than you could expect to earn much more than this.
Digital Forensics Summary
If you’re the sort of person who comes from a strong IT or computer background, or you’re a school leaver who thinks this is where you want to head, then a career in computer and digital forensics could be a great option for you.
This will be especially true where you have an inquisitive mind and enjoy the challenge of undertaking an investigation that can often be difficult and extremely frustrating.
The career prospects are only going to improve as computer crime increases and businesses and the authorities look for ways to both prevent and investigate these crimes successfully.