The field of forensic technology is the exciting combination of analyzing crime scenes and using cutting-edge technology. It might be hard to find a straightforward forensic technology degree path offered at the school of your choice. Therefore, you might want to pursue a bachelor’s in computer forensics, digital forensics or even forensic science to open the doors to the career you want. The careers in which forensic technology plays a crucial part include computer forensics investigation, forensic science and evidence examination and cyber crime prevention.
Investigating Crimes that Involve Computers
If you want to navigate the digital world to help investigate crimes, you might want to pursue a career as a computer forensics investigator or computer forensics analyst. These investigators or analysts work to gather data from devices to find any information that might be relevant to a case. Sometimes they may even have to help rebuild damaged or partially destroyed devices to recover the data they need. Towards the end of the case, they may be called upon to testify in court in a criminal prosecution case.
Fully examining the evidence contained on a computer often requires much more than the cursory inspections that, on television shows and in movies, reveal critical evidence in the case almost instantly. In real life, the process of combing through hundreds or thousands of computer files, emails or browsing history – all of which may be hidden, encrypted or deceptively named specifically to keep the user’s criminal activities covert – can be lengthy. An occupation known as computer forensic analyst is responsible for conducting more in-depth studies of digital evidence, often performing the work behind the scenes rather than in the field.
While some computer forensics specialists have a degree in forensic technology specifically, others study computer science, computer engineering or information technology to develop the strong computer skills needed to work in this field.
Investigating Crimes Using Technology
If you want to use technology to investigate crimes but your interests aren’t limited to finding and assessing digital evidence, you might want to consider a career as a forensic science technician. Sometimes called a crime scene investigator, or CSI, forensic science technicians aid police detectives in performing criminal investigations at the crime scene or examine evidence in a laboratory. Forensic science technicians may hold many different job titles, including forensic specialist, evidence technician, crime laboratory analyst and latent fingerprint examiner.
Forensic science technicians perform many different kinds of tasks on the site of a crime scene, according to the BLS. By taking photographs that meticulously document a crime scene, forensic science technicians preserve the appearance of the scene for investigators to review as they continue working the case and gather the basis for reconstructing the scene and figuring out precisely how and when the crime occurred. They might also analyze the crime scene for important evidence. Once a forensic science technician discovers a piece of evidence, he or she must collect it, catalog it, and help preserve it to transfer it to a crime lab for further examination.
Forensic science technicians at crime labs use technology and scientific principles to analyze the preserved evidence from crime scenes to help make connections. They might be able to conduct DNA tests on blood, hair, or other bodily fluids to identify a potential suspect or victim or otherwise shed some light on avenues detectives can pursue. If a forensic science technician can determine that the DNA left at the scene matches that of a suspect or someone in a police database, this work could help detectives close a case or at least rule out innocent suspects.
Some CSIs specialize in a particular area of evidence, such as DNA or firearm ballistics, according to the BLS. Forensic science technicians may also collaborate with experts in specialized areas such as certain types of chemical or biological substances.
While solving crimes is very important, preventing them can be even more important. Working in the field of cyber security, technology forensic specialists do just that. Technology forensic specialists are experts in the methods attackers use to compromise data. By strategically reverse engineering these methods, they can develop countermeasures that help to keep networks and data secure. Data security impacts every industry, which means that the services provided by technology forensic specialists are in high demand. These skilled cyber security professionals find employment in military operations, local law enforcement agencies, corporations and many other industries and work settings.
The methods cybercriminals use to attack IT systems are constantly changing. If you want to work in the field of cyber security, be prepared for a lifetime of learning so that you can keep devising new methods of protecting against these increasingly sophisticated threats.