Computer crime, also referred to as cyber-crime most commonly, e-crime, electronic crime and hi-tech crime is the branch of cyber security you should consider if your aspirations lie in criminal justice or cyber forensics.
Cyber security jobs outrank nearly all other career paths, making it into LinkedIn’s top 5 emerging jobs taken from their recent survey of over 500 million job seekers. However, for those who are perhaps not oriented toward the traditional coding or programming prerequisite of the majority of cyber security roles, then working in computer crime may be a lucrative alternative, particularly with an average annual salary of £55,000.
The job itself will largely see you extracting data from computers and other devices in evidentiary support of a criminal case. This may also see you appear in a courtroom to convey your expert findings in the prosecution of hackers and cyber criminals. As you will expect, this means you are expected to bring excellent communication skills to the role. Regardless of whether you’re called to testify, there will be occasion where you will need to explain your findings to other members of your organisation who may need extra clarity on the technical information you are offering.
Candidates applying for roles in cyber-crime typically come from a computer science background, or a similar degree. Computer or network engineering, information systems, forensics or information security are also popular streams of academia pursued by those hoping to work in computer crime. Obtaining some accounting experience is also a good idea for those wanting to give themselves an edge as its practice will enhance your investigative skills into financial related cybercrimes.
Experienced IT professionals might want to bolster their skillset with an advanced qualification in information assurance in order to build on the technical competencies they learned at undergraduate level.
Though the need for coding is not as imperative in a computer crime job, its practitioners must understand how computers and networks operate and how their vulnerabilities pose a threat in order to carry out their role effectively. It is a technically-focused role, and one which will see its practitioners work across a variety of technologies to identify and respond to breaches and hacks.
Computer crime specialists are expected to be sticklers for detail, which is harder than it sounds given the amount of data requiring examination. Due to the increase in criminal activity, from copyright infringements and fraud to identity theft and harassment; the need for skilled people in this space is overwhelming so don’t be put off by the paperwork!
With its foundations entrenched in criminal investigation, candidates should have a good understanding of white collar crime and how the law and its elements work. This may also mean being confronted by disturbing or offensive material, so be prepared for the dark side of computer crime. It’s also useful to have a basic grasp of cybersecurity, specifically the tactics employed by the hackers and the preventative methods cyber pros use to combat them. Understanding these elements will help you on the forensics side of your role.
Computer crime jobs also require individuals with strong analytical skills, who are fluent in thinking outside the box, who have an eye for patterns and discrepancies and speak data like it’s their mother tongue. This is how your mind becomes the key to solving cyber-crime. Cybersecurity as a whole is constantly moving forwards, changing and updating so if you want to be successful you need to keep pace. This is where the importance of self-education comes in; you always need to be learning.