Getting Into Digital Forensics
Also known as a Computer Forensic Investigator, computer forensics analyst, digital forensics examiner and so on, digital forensics jobs involve the investigation and analysis of evidence extracted from computers, networks, mobile devices and more to identify the “suspect behind the keyboard”.
Obtaining a bachelor’s degree in computer forensics, computer science, cyber security or similar is generally considered an important step in stepping getting into a digital forensics career. So too, certifications such as the GIAC (Global Information Assurance Certification) or CCE (Certified Computer Examiner) may impress potential employers.
Found in both the private and government sectors, the requirements and responsibilities attached to digital forensics jobs will of course vary depending on the position you apply for and within which area it’s in. You may find the specific degree and qualifications needed will vary also, particularly between private and public. For example, public sector can be less stringent on the subject of qualifications.
Prescribed academia aside, working in digital forensics demands a thirst for continuous learning. Technology changes too quickly for forensics specialists to hone their expertise to one particular area. The reality is that your skills will always be driven by evolving digital trends, which currently equate to having a solid understanding of drones and devices that come under the Internet of Things remit, as well as positioning yourself on the precipice of emerging AI-powered forensics tools.
Fuel your learning by attending relevant conferences and subscribing to computer forensics and cyber security publications to stay up to date on emerging technologies.
Due to the ever-evolving nature of the industry the best course of action for aspiring digital forensics professionals is to focus on their fundamental expertise. If you are coming to interviews in possession of excellent technical understanding and intricate knowledge of the ins and outs of computer-based systems so as to extract data from them, that is already a good start. Knowledge of operating systems including Windows, Linux, MacOS, Unix and Android as well as experience with reverse engineering and malware analysis will also hold you in strong stead. Further to that is having a real familiarity with the nature and personality of illicit material that tells you how it got on a device and how it navigates that device. Knowledge around threats to cyber security and what triggers different types of breaches is also an essential skill.
Digital forensics candidates should also be able to take whatever digital evidence they find and be able to accurately analyse and interpret it. Written and oral communication skills are also highly important on the list of underlying expertise. Being able to clearly explain the outcome of your investigation to non-technical people at various levels, such as jurors and lawyers in a court case, or business execs as you delve into a case of employee misconduct, is a vital skill to have.
The work can place you alongside a legal team supporting them with their e-discovery for a lawsuit, or you could be part of an incident response team navigating cyber security breaches. Careers in digital forensics are extremely varied considering the breadth of areas where that skillset is in demand.