If you are interested in becoming a forensic computer analyst, it becomes important that you know a few things about the part you have chosen to make a career in.
Who is a Forensic Computer Analyst?
A forensic computer analyst can be referred by a number of names; Computer Forensic Investigator, Computer Forensic Specialist, Forensic Computer Examiner, Computer Forensic Technical, and Digits Forensic Specialist.
They are experts who employ the combination of a well rooted background in computer science and experiences in forensics to recover information from data storage devices.
They basically assist law enforcement agencies and companies with cybercrime and evidence recovery.
Being in the field of information recovery, retrieving data could take the form of documents, pictures and emails from the hard drives of computers and other storage devices like flashes and zip drives that have been damaged, manipulated or even deleted from computers, especially those systems involved in illegal and criminal activities.
This becomes the responsibility of a forensic Computer analyst. As a professional also, his/her expertise will be required to protect computers from illegal infiltration and access.
To become a forensic computer analyst, one should have a background in computer science and Information Technology.
Accounting and criminal justice will be of immense advantage to begin a career in computer forensics.
Although some college offer courses in computer forensics, most experts usually learn the investigative techniques on the job, after obtaining the required degree.
Training Institutions And Certifications
Since most organizations require their forensic analysts to possess certain certifications, Certified Forensic Computer Examiner (CFCE) certificate is offered by the International Society of Forensic Computer Examiner (ISFCE) alongside the International Association of Computer Investigative Specialists (IACIS).
While the IACIS awards the certification to candidates who scale through their exams, the ISFCE requires that candidates complete a training program approved by the Certified Computer Examiner (CCE) board alongside having some experience. This certification can be renewed on a three year interval.
Some other certifications exist for Forensic Computer Analysts including obtaining certifications in Advanced Computer Systems Security, Computer Forensics or Advanced Computer Forensics.
Areas you may encounter within your training includes;
- computer crime and law
- Operating systems
- Forensic analysis methods
- Court room and expert witness skills.
- Data recovery
A few top schools that provide these certifications, degrees, and even master’s program in Computer Forensics include the Champlain College in Burlington, VT. University of Central Florida, FL, Boston University, and the University of Rhodes Island, all in the U.S.
Duties And Responsibilities of Forensic Computer Analyst
The analyst makes use of forensic tools and investigative methods to source for, recover, and copy even from hidden locations, as well as unlock the needed electronic data. They also analyze phone records, follow electronic trails and act as expert witnesses.
The data here may be internet usage history, photos, word processing documents, emails, etc.
They also analyze data, comparing its relevance to an investigative process, and format reports should it be needed for legal purposes.
They are also involved in cases relating to hacking, online fraud and scams, political, commercial and industrial espionage, theft of sensitive information, and terrorist communication.
Forensic Computer Analyst Skills
The following skills will be required to advance in the computer forensic analysis career: analytical abilities required to recognize the relevance of information to the case being handled; comprehensive and accurate skill in report writing; good communication skills – since you may be required to explain the content of your findings; knowledge of evidence chain-of-custody procedures; knowledge about digital storage devices; knowledge of networking and data recovery; and knowledge of a variety of operating systems.
Forensic computer analysts generally work on full time basis, which is characterized by continuous desire to learn.
It is also important that they network with other people, even on the field. Career in forensic computer analysis can be started by working for organizations as a network engineer, support technician or even a developer, looking out for opportunities and having the relevant qualification can open you up to more sophisticated security positions.
Opportunities also exist in local government as well as in state agencies. These professionals are often employed to keep company files secured.
With law enforcement agencies, the work of forensic computer analysts may include solving cybercrimes. However, individuals may decide to work as consultants and bill different agencies for whatever cases they may handle.
Forensic Computer Analyst Salary
The average salary for a forensic computer analyst may rise up to between $36,000 in its lowest, and as high as $87,000 annually, depending on the location and the agency he/she works for. Private organizations tend to pay much more than government agencies though.