Why Be a Computer Forensics Investigator?

In the 21st century, computers and mobile technology have become integral to our daily lives. Adding in the development of the Internet, practically anybody in the world can connect with another through cyberspace. The Internet has become a very attractive medium to meet people and buy and sell products because it is convenient, fast, and hassle-free. But with the advantages come disadvantages such as identity theft and fraud.

Identity theft and Internet fraud are relatively new type of crimes where criminals use online means to steal from victims, whether it’s password to online bank accounts or the actual credit card or social security number. The FBI, large city police departments, and other crime fighting units employ specialists knowledgeable in cyber crime techniques and forensics to combat online criminals.

A Day In A Life Of A Computer Forensic Analyst

Cyber crime specialists not only seek to avoid terrorist attacks in the cyber world, but they also work to prevent crimes such the planting of harmful computer viruses and website hacking.  Additionally, computer forensic specialists have been playing an important role in preventing pedophiles or other sexual deviants from using the Internet for illegal sexual encounter. If you watch Dateline NBC, you may have seen FBI computer forensic investigators hack through a criminal’s computer to reveal illegal activities.

Salary For A Computer Forensic Examiner

Annual earnings for a computer forensic examiner is comparable to other IT jobs. Those working for public agencies average around $50K-$75K a year. Experts and consultants with their own private practice can demand their own pay.

How To Become A Computer Forensic Professional

To land a computer forensic job, one must go to school. Understand that computer forensics require knowledge in two areas: technology and criminal justice. Internet, mobile, and computer technology are rapidly changing areas. Hence, understanding the basics of high tech, i.e. how information is recorded, transported, stored, etc., is necessary. From there, one must have the ability analyze how technology is used in day-to-day aspects of life because that’s how and where cyber criminals attack.

Note that computer forensic is a specialization within law and criminal justice. So the courses and degree necessary for a career in this area are in the field of computer forensics, computer security, and criminal justice. A degree in accounting help immeasurably.  Sophisticated criminals use loopholes to hide paper trails for tax scams, fraud, and money laundering.  A trained financial auditor with computer savvy can trackdown illegal transactions in cyberspace.  Many traditional and technical colleges offer these courses.  And some classes can be taken online.

Computer Forensics and How to Get Computer Forensics Job

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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Forensics For Technology – What Is It?

Forensics technology has become a broad field of investigation that refers to the scientific evidence used in criminal cases. This physical evidence is comprised of scientific collection, and its analysis. There are many new aspects of this type of technology geared toward evidence or establishing facts to be used in civil or criminal proceedings.

One of the technical areas that have much to offer is digital software. Criminals and terrorists have the opportunity to use a wide variety of electronic devices in their crimes. As crimes with a digital component are on the increase, it is necessary for law enforcement to have the equipment to counter these crimes. Digital forensic software has the capacity to recover data from a computer that has been reformatted or repartitioned

Other applicable software programs:

• A program capable of wiping a hard drive clean
• A spy type of software can locate hidden partitions, plus, quickly process large hard drives, and more.
• Images can be compresses into “flat” images from floppy disks for analysis
• A “partition manager” that examines all partitions on a hard drive and can switch them around or even hide them
• A new write blocker program protects computer information more effectively than past programs

The science which interprets image content is forensic image analysis. Several companies have produced efficient equipment that cut cost and speed up investigations. The equipment is designed to do comparison photography, analysis the content, photogrammetry (using photographs to make measurements) and to authenticate the image. Through a variety of techniques, mega data, pixil aspect ratios,and errors are utilized to extract information from video, photographs and animations. This is effective even when an individual has attempted to clock the evidence.

One of the newer tools is video forensics, which is primarily the scientific examination and evaluation of multimedia evidence in legal matters. The goal of this technology is to produce an accurate picture of evidence for a judge and jury to help determine the verdict in a civil or criminal case. In addition, this technology uses processing techniques to enhance video footage, refine grainy photographs, and to enhance a particular person or an object in a video footage, plus it converts digital video into specific formats for forensic analysis. This type of work is important in solving cases for law enforcement, security, surveillance and even military operations.

Data recovery is a process used for legal purposes to retrieve data from computers. It is much more difficult to erase all the information from a computer than most people realize. The purpose of data recovery is to retrieve lost or deleted information. The mined data is done using a process of collection, analysis, and then preservation. With the successful completion of these steps the computer expert will have the lost data to present to the court. This technology may be used in civil or criminal proceedings to provide evidence for the court.

If forensic describes evidence that can be used in court, then it also must cover the technology and science necessary to provide this evidence. A forensic investigation is conducted in a lawful manner, establishing facts and evidences that have been thoroughly examined, keeping in mind the chain of custody, to be presented in a courtroom. Subdivisions that exist under this area of investigation are firewall forensics, database forensics and mobile device forensics.