Computer Forensics Degree – Requirements and Curriculum

As data security and confidentiality become an increasingly important element of corporate and government communications, the demand for computer forensic scientists is rapidly increasing. In order to enter the field, you should strongly consider enrolling in a program that allows you to earn a bachelor or master computer forensics degree.

Careers in digital forensics requires a broad set of skills to allow you to analyze computer data and security, including network technologies and traffic. Computer forensics degrees allow you to develop a wide range of knowledge in computer science, criminal justice and engineering, all of which is important for a future career in forensics. In particularly, you will develop skills to understand file formats, networking protocols, cryptology, software engineering and data analysis.

Computer forensic degrees are often available as associates or bachelors degrees, as well as through professional, specialist degree training. A number of well known universities such as California State offer degree programs focused on digital forensics. These degrees are structured to enable you to earn become a Certified Information System Security Professional, the highest level of certification for forensics professionals. In addition to in-person training, a number of schools offer online distance training in forensics, including ITT Technical Institute.

Courses within a computer forensics degree generally focus on the technology and legal aspects of the career, requiring the development of a broad base of knowledge. Students are required to gain expertise in the criminal justice and law enforcement system, as well as a core set of skills in both computer science with a focus on hardware and computer security.

At leading universities course offerings include Forensics and Crime Scene Investigation, Cyber Crime Analysis, Police Investigation Techniques, Essentials of Computer Security, Computer Forensic Analysis and Cryptology and Computer Security. Each of these courses builds upon a foundation in criminal justice and computer science. As one of the fastest growing professions, the requirements for computer forensics training require a working knowledge of a range of technology from networking equipment to wireless protocols.

Importantly, leading computer forensics schools will provide you with an opportunity to gain hands on work experience through internships and work study opportunities within the field. Both private companies as well as government agencies are actively recruiting computer forensics experts to aid in investigations, so demand remains high for new entrants into the field. By earning a well qualified computer forensics degree, you can put yourself in a good position to become a working professional upon graduation. Louis Zhang, Accrcomputerforensics dot com

Electronic Evidence Discovery May Shift To The Mobile Computer Forensic Specialist

As the computing world advances and especially as the world of the wireless computing advances, there are certainly going to be instances where the services of a mobile computer specialist will be required.

The mobile arena now includes hand-held devices with comprehensive capability, in fact there are many more wireless units than desktops.The complexities of today`s wireless units such as iPods, iPads, Smartphones and tablet computers now have the same computing power of PC`s that were manufactured within the last decade. With cutting-edge technology such as infrared and bluetooth now integrated in to mobile computers, the advances in mobile computing are rapidly surpassing those of the desktop computer.

The hand-held device now includes a wide variety of units and can include video cameras, iPods,digital recorders or any hand held units.Mobiles may differ from the desktop computer in the way that they operate. The mobile computer forensic field now shifts from hard drive recovery to electronic evidence discovery of hand held units.

The mobile operating systems and hardware standards may change more frequently as new advances are introduced. New versions may be introduced several times within the product year, whereas computer software, may be revised annually or bi-annually. There are many different platforms in the wireless computing arena which makes the job of the mobile computer forensic specialist even more challenging and additionally, there may be variations within each communication technology. There are several variations of the 802.11 which is the standard used by all wireless networks. Shorter range wireless communication involves the use of Bluetooth, while within even shorter ranges, communication is handled by the infrared light waves.

Mobile computer forensics does not only involve mobile phones and the approach is not yet standardized due to the rapid advances and multiple operating platforms. The main reason for the state of affairs is that many manufacturers are pushing different standards in hardware, interfaces, operating systems and protocols. As a result, mobile forensics cannot be treated in the same way as static computer forensics, even though the concepts, may appear to be similar. The mobile forensic specialist job may rely less on technology and more on skills, procedures and problem-solving ability and the approach can be different.

Perhaps the most important forensic component of the mobile phone would be the Subscriber Identity Module card which is used to authenticate the user and verify the services. Alternatively, this information can be embedded in the phone. Forensic information may also be available in external Secure Digital cards that can be used by most mobile devices.

The mobile forensic field is primarily concerned with the acquisition of mobile phone data and there are tools, both hardware and software. Another challenge for the mobile forensic specialist is to keep up with the avalanche of changes in the mobile computing industry. Mobile forensic software may behind the curve with regard to the new mobile technologies and you should be aware of the various tools both forensic and non forensic that can be used.

The new burgeoning field of mobile arena is sure to offer satisfying available opportunities and challenges for the mobile computer forensic specialist.

Computer Forensics Career Overview

Computer Forensics is a field that continues to grow in record numbers year after year. As computer technology becomes ever more ubiquitous, the effectiveness and relevancy of this specialization becomes more useful in criminal cases. Common crimes that are investigated using computer forensics are: identity theft, online fraud, embezzlement, child pornography, and hacker activity. The amount of identity theft, unethical activity, and embezzlement going on in the white color business world becomes more sophisticated, which makes this particular aspect of computer forensics more relevant in today’s world.

So, lets back up a step and give you a basic definition of what computer forensics is all about. Computer Forensics analysts gather digital evidence that can be used in a court of law. They spend their time gathering particular incriminating evidence from computers, and other devices such as PDA’s and cell phones. Individuals in this career may have different sub specialties, but the end goal is usually the same and that is to gather evidence to support a case.

Typical Duties For Computer Forensics Analysts

On a typical day, you may spend time searching through files, looking for keywords or dates of interest where activity relating to the alleged crime may have occurred. You may also need to search through Internet history files to find out For example, if you are looking for evidence of the consumption of child pornography, you may need to search through historical data on their Internet usage, including deleted pictures, files, or emails that might include incriminating evidence. If you find that they have been visiting known sites that convey this material, it can be used in your official findings or downloaded to a disk for evidence in a court of law.

Child pornography is just one of many uses of Computer Forensic Analysts. Law enforcement agencies need to have these tech savvy, specially trained individuals on staff in order to find evidence of other cyber crimes as well. You may spend a day investigating a ring of identity theft victims who have fallen victim through phishing scams or other related attempts to gain sensitive bank account information. Some of these operations may have several people involved in identity theft rings. Tracing IP addresses, which provides locations where a computer being used in the scam is a common practice. This information can then be passed to the law enforcement officers in the field to obtain a warrant and confiscate computers at a particular residence or place of business. Computer Forensics is also used widely in violent crimes and homicide cases where emails or files on a computer can be used to incriminate a suspect.

Employment & Career Options

Most individuals work in either a law enforcement office such as a local police department or the FBI. Another option is to find employment with a private computer forensics agency. The FBI has a team named CART, which stands for Computer Analysis and Response Team, which has a primary function of computer forensics tasks related to large national level cases. It is common in these types of cases for a suspect and a victim to reside in other states, due to the nature of the Internet. It is for this reason that FBI agencies work closely with local law enforcement offices in an effort to solve cases and gather evidence.

Others may choose to work in private firms, which are often contracted with to monitor criminal activity that may be going on inside a large corporation. Common examples of crimes investigated in large companies range from embezzlement to sexual harassment cases. Where there is a will to commit crime through the use of computer technology, there is a need for a trained computer forensics analyst to solve the crime.