digital forensics

How to become a Digital Forensic Investigator in 2020

digital forensics

Computer forensics, especially digital forensics, is a budding domain of cybersecurity. The professionals working in computer forensics are usually known as computer forensic investigators, computer forensics specialists, cyber forensics experts, or digital forensics analysts. They have the responsibility of uncovering the procedure behind a security incident. A digital forensic investigator backtracks the footprints of the lawbreaker to extract digital artifacts. These pieces of evidence then help in retrieving useful data to support the legal proceedings. Usually, digital artifacts consist of computer files, hard drives, emails, images, and other storage devices.

The digital forensics can be divided into several sub-domains which deals with database forensics, malware forensics, network forensics, mobile forensics, cloud forensics, and others. The cyber forensic experts are required in multiple types of organizations, including government agencies (local, state, and federal), accounting firms, law firms, banks, and software development enterprises. In general, organizations having computer systems need a digital forensic investigator.

All you need to know about Digital Forensic Investigators

cyber forensic expert

A cyber forensic specialist is a professional responsible for examining a cybercrime. The expert collects and analyzes evidence from the targeted and suspected digital information assets. Notably, they usually deal with the aftermath of a security incident.

Responsibilities of a Forensics Expert

The key responsibilities of a forensics expert include –

  • Investigates a security incident or data breach
  • Recovers data from digital storage media
  • Reconstructs deleted and damaged files and data
  • Identifies the digital information assets targeted during the attack
  • Evaluates the scope of the attack
  • Extracts digital evidence for legal proceedings
  • Reports findings to superior authority
  • Documents all the findings


Computer Forensic Expert Salaries

As per PayScale, the average salary of a forensic computer analyst is $72,869 (as per 2020 figures).

forensic expert salary

Requirements to Become a Forensic Expert

The eligibility criteria for a cyber forensic expert can vary widely. Private firms would love to hire a candidate with a relevant bachelor’s degree, while law enforcement agencies would prefer someone with hands-on experience.

Degree Requirements
Work Experience
  • For internship no experience required
  • For entry-level forensic analysts – 1 to 2 years of experience is required
  • For Senior Forensic Analyst – 2 to 3 years of experience is the norm
  • For Managerial level – more than 5 years of experience
Hard Skills
  • Knowledge of computer networks – network protocols, topologies, etc.
  • Knowledge of various operating systems – Unix, Linux, Windows, etc.
  • Familiarity with different computer programming languages – Java, Python, etc.
  • Understanding of computer hardware and software systems
  • Expertise in digital forensic tools – Xplico, EnCase, FTK Imager, and hundreds of others
  • Cloud computing
Soft Skills Forensic experts must have report writing skills and critical thinking.

How to Become a Digital Forensic Investigator?

EC-Council’s Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (C|HFI) helps the participants to develop skills needed to become a digital forensic investigator. This ANSI accredited program imparts all the skills stated in the table. Apart from that, the attendee will be able to perform data acquisition, data duplication, analysis of hard disks and file systems, dealing with anti-forensics techniques, and many other important tasks after the completion of the training. It is a hands-on program, which ensures that the trainee develops the practical skills over theoretical knowledge. Join the C|HFI program today!


What is a digital forensic investigator?
A digital forensic investigator is a skilled professional who works with private corporations and law enforcement agencies to retrieve evidence from a crime scene, i.e., after a security incident.

Also read: Digital Forensics: Key Skills of a Certified Investigator

What can you do with a digital forensics degree?
With a digital forensics degree, a candidate can apply for various posts in digital forensics. These job roles include – Computer Forensics Analyst, Digital Forensics Examiner, Mobile Forensics Expert, Computer Crime Investigator, and even for Cryptoanalyst.

Read more: An Introduction to Computer Forensics and How to Become a Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator

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