digital security

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Overview

Digital forensics is a branch of forensic science encompassing the recovery and investigation of material found on digital devices, often related to computer crime. Digital forensics investigations have a variety of applications. The most common is to support or refute a hypothesis before criminal or civil (as part of the electronic discovery process) courts. Forensics may also feature in the private sector; such as during internal corporate investigations or intrusion investigation (a specialist probe into the nature and extent of an unauthorized network intrusion).

Traditionally it has been associated with criminal law, where evidence is collected to support or oppose a hypothesis before the courts. As with other areas of forensics this is often as part of a wider investigation spanning a number of disciplines. In some cases the collected evidence is used as a form of intelligence gathering, used for other purposes than court proceedings (for example to locate, identify or halt other crimes). As a result intelligence gathering is sometimes held to a less strict forensic standard.

Education

The well-advertised ITT Technical Institute offers an Associate of Applied Science in Computer Forensics online. The purpose of this program is to help graduates prepare for entry-level positions in computer forensics. The curriculum of the program focuses on technical, criminal justice and general education cores of study. The technical core covers knowledge and skills in the collection, identification, preservation, extraction, interpretation and documentation of computer evidence. Courses in the criminal justice core will introduce students to the legal and regulatory aspects of computer forensics including an understanding of the judicial system, investigative processes, the importance of maintaining the chain of evidence and incident reporting. The general education core will offer studies in the humanities, mathematics, sciences and social sciences.

Those interested in an undergraduate degree in this field may wish to consider Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont. According to the school’s website, Champlain was named 2013’s Best Cybersecurity Higher Education Program by SC Magazine for IT Security Professionals. This institution offers on-campus and online Bachelor’s degrees, two online Master’s degrees, and online professional certificates. Champlain’s Bachelor of Science in Computer & Digital Forensics will develop mastery level understanding in:

  • Computer & Digital Forensics
  • Android/iPhone/iPad Mobile Device Forensics
  • Digital forensics tools used by government/private companies
  • Cyber Security
  • Operating System, File System and Network Forensics

A consideration at the masters degree level is the University of Central Florida in Orlando which offers a Masters of Science in Digital Forensics.out This school has an interdisciplinary program that combines curriculum from the engineering, computer science and criminal justice divisions. Courses include forensics in wireless security, processing of digital evidence and file system forensics.

One’s education need not end upon graduation; the professional may pursue her/his Certified Computer Examiner (CCE) designation at one of the authorized training centers. These learning centers are located world-wide and are under the direction of The International Society of Forensic Computer Examiners. Referred to as CCE BootCamp, it’s a one week classroom and laboratory training course in computer forensic examinations. Applicants to the course must have a minimum of 18 months professional experience conducting digital forensic examinations.

Employment

The website, PayScale, states the median salary for “Forensic Analyst” is $68,784 with a range from $36,000 to over $100,000. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the projected growth of this occupation is 30% through 2018. This is a much faster increase than the average. Employment opportunities exist at Fortune 500 companies such as IBM and Wells Fargo as well as numerous federal agencies: Department of Defense, Homeland Security, US Coast Guard, and Citizenship & Immigration Services.