Have you ever asked yourself:
- What is a forensic computer examiner?
- How do you become a computer forensic examiner?
- What is a computer forensic investigator?
- What is computer forensics?
- What can I do with a computer forensics degree?
These are great questions. The narrative that follows provides insight into the answer to these relevant queries. Preliminarily though, it is noted though that use of the word “computer” in this article references any electronic device that has the capability of holding or storing digital information.
For those with an insatiable curiosity, the law enforcement industry was the first to apply the tools offered by computer forensic techniques. The often-indisputable evidence provided by expert computer forensic examiners has made a huge difference in solving crimes. The data and information provided by computer forensics can be used in both criminal computer crimes and even civil cases.
How Do You Become a Computer Forensic Examiner?
Computer forensic examiners and investigators typically require, at a bare minimum, a baccalaureate degree related to the field of computer forensic science or information technology. Many computer forensic examiners choose to advance their education by earning their graduate degree or one of many industry certifications.
What is Computer Forensics?
Computer forensic science is dedicated to professionally examining a computer using sound, acceptable practices regarding data search and recovery, and the appropriate approach to maintaining an enforceable legal trail. This requires the data and information to be verifiably authentic and extracted appropriately.
From a computer forensic professional’s perspective, a computer (or any other digital device) is perceived as the scene of the crime. The data, of which some are hidden in a complex way, is quite helpful to demonstrate (and contradict) the realities of the situation — using hard, fast and reliable data.
So, what does computer forensics do to help solve crimes?
- Searching, finding and analyzing relevant data and information from an objective perspective
- Examining, evaluating and analyzing the data gathered through the forensic inspection
- Providing detailed reports as to the computer forensic tech’s data, findings, and results
These objectives are achieved by employing innovative digital techniques. Some of these techniques include:
Deleted File Analysis
The art of recovery-deleted files from a digital device involves sophisticated methods that allow forensic scientists to rebuild “deleted” files through the manipulation of the physical sectors.
This includes an analysis of the device’s operating system and facilitates the analysis of encrypted files. A live shot (known as an acquisition) of the hard drive before the computer is powered down.
This is a relatively new computer forensic science technique, which applies a correlation algorithm against two or more computer systems. The ultimate goal is the detection of an anomaly.
What Does Computer Forensics Do?
A computer forensic specialist has the unique skills to locate information that can be hidden within the confines of a complex digital device. They are digital detectives. Through deep-dive digital tools, a computer forensic investigator has the opportunity to discover digital intelligence that assists in solving cases regarding:
- Regulatory Compliance
- Intellectual Property theft
- Employment issues
What are the Top-Paying Sectors for Computer Forensics?
As the field of computer forensic science has grown in size and popularity, (the BLS reports a 14% job growth through 2018), demand and wages have grown proportionately. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the following industries offer computer forensic examiners and investigators the highest wages in the country, for the calendar year 2018.
- Federal Government — Executive Branch — $110,720
- Scientific R&D Sector — $85,510
- Local Government (No schools or hospitals) — $63,560
- Physician Office and Facilities — $62,270
- State Governments (No schools or hospitals) — $62,070