Digital forensics or computer forensics is a forensics science branch that deals with the identification, recovery, and investigation of the materials found in digital devices when investigating computer-based crimes. Most organizations today are choosing to employ the services of digital forensics experts to collect information and evidence against intruders in addition to identifying them. In recent years, digital forensics has expanded to focus on mass storage devices. This led to an expansion in digital forensics certifications, which were necessary to accommodate the movement of digital crime activities outside the computer. Understanding how to choose the most appropriate digital forensics certification to become an expert in this field depends on the educational requirements, available certification options, and how various certifications line up against frameworks like NIST and NICE. Let’s dive in.
What Are the General Education Requirements for Digital Forensics Professionals?
A forensic computer analyst must be well informed on both computer programming and law enforcement standards. A bachelor’s degree is not always needed, but most employers ask for it. Related study areas at both the bachelor’s and advanced degree levels include IT, computer science, and criminal justice. For people without any of these advanced degrees, most employers will generally ask for proof of one’s background in the technical skills and knowledge of the profession from the successful completion of one of the several available digital forensics certifications.
What Are the Various Certification Options?
With a growing interest in digital forensics as a profession, many companies and associations have started offering certifications and specialized training. Some certifications offer skills in using specific software tools provided by the same companies that built them. Other certifications are provided by professional associations but are mostly available to current law enforcement employees. Selecting the right certification requires a balance between the education and experience that one has. Additionally, the skills which an individual has should complement the chosen certification.
Many of the people interested in digital forensics jobs enrol for a program that spans between 2 to 4 years, with certification courses like investigative techniques, mobile forensics, white-collar crime, computer ethics, and laws that interfere with the searching and confiscating of digital properties. Upon successful completion of a certification, a candidate can choose to work in cybersecurity, digital consulting, counterterrorism, or criminal investigation.
Entry-level programs are designed for high school graduates and require a solid base in mathematics, computer science, logic, and statistics. Advanced programs may need a bachelor’s degree in computer science and related degrees, in addition to specific certifications and competencies. Though most certifications are not well recognized, some certifications stand out from the rest. These are:
- Access Data Computer Examiner
- Certified Forensic Computer Examiner (CFCE)
- Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator v8 (CHFI)
How Do Various Certifications Line Up Against Frameworks Like NIST and NICE?
ACE: Access Data Certified Examiner
Access Data is the company that makes the Forensic Toolkit (FTK), which is a popular solution for digital investigations. The company also offers the Access Data Certified Examiner (ACE) certification, which covers the FTK Imager, Registry Viewer, Password Recovery Toolkit, and the FTK Examiner Application management window tools. The company recommends basic to moderate forensic knowledge before trying the certification. This may include understanding registry files, digital artifacts, hashing, encrypting and decrypting files, attack types, and how to utilize live and index searching. Recertification is needed every two years, with credential holders expected to pass the current ACE exam, which focuses on the most recent versions of FTK and other tools.
CFCE: Certified Forensic Computer Examiner
The CFCE credential was introduced by The International Association of Computer Investigative Specialists. This organization mainly leans towards offering these certifications to law enforcement personnel. This is because one must be employed in law enforcement to qualify as a regular IACIS membership. To get the CFCE certification, candidates are expected to show proficiency in CFCE core competencies. IACIS membership is required to attend this course. Candidates that finish the training course can enrol directly in the CFCE program upon completion of this certification. The CFCE exam has two steps — a peer review and CFCE certification testing.
CHFI: Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator
EC-Council is a training and certification organization whose specialties are penetration testing, digital forensics, and anti-hacking. The CHFI certification focuses on analytical techniques, forensics tools, and the procedures used in collecting, maintaining, and presenting digital forensic evidence and important data as legal proof in a court of law. EC-Council offers training for this certification, but candidates can appear for the exam without taking the course as long as they have a minimum of 2 years of information security experience. The CHFI course covers in-depth computer forensics, digital evidence, anti-forensics, network traffic, database, cloud forensics, mobile and email forensics, and policies and regulations.
Why Is CHFI the Best Choice for You?
At EC-Council University, the Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI) certification will provide an in-depth look at digital forensics and impart the training necessary for all interested individuals to become experts in this domain. Join our CHFI certification today!
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