Having a degree in computer science, psychology, criminal justice, computer engineering, or any other related field with no IT experience doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be unable to pursue any digital forensics career. What it means is that you’ll need to take digital forensics courses, sign-up for an investigator certifications training, and become a self-driven and dogged learner.
With most career paths you stand to gain a lot when you have diverse work and real-world experiences. With no IT experience or prior forensics skills, you can still pursue any digital forensics career by signing-up for EC-Council’s Computer Hacking Forensics Investigation (C|HFI) certification program.
What Is Digital Forensics in Cybersecurity?
Digital forensics is also called cyber forensics. Digital forensics processes can be used to identify, analyses, preserve, and report digital clues or evidence to back up network vulnerability mitigation, prevent computer-based crimes or cyber frauds, serve as counterintelligence, and assist with law enforcement investigations.
If your digital forensics career is focused on cybersecurity, then you’ll be at the forefront in the battle against cybercrime. You would need to learn computer forensics to be able to handle network vulnerabilities and develop strategies that would help you mitigate them. Any organization that collects data from the cloud would benefit from digital forensics in cybersecurity.
As a cybersecurity expert or ethical hacker, you would also need in-depth knowledge about how to scrutinize networks, mobile devices, computers, and the cloud for evidence of criminal activities. Likewise, you’ll need to acquire skills on how to run counterintelligence against intruders, hackers, and other malicious actors.
Sign-up today for our Computer Hacking Forensics Investigation (CHFI) certification program to learn more about digital forensics in cybersecurity!
What Do You do in Digital Forensics?
Digital forensics is a sub-field of forensic science that deals with the collection, investigation, analysis, recovery, documentation, and reporting of incidents, usually in relation to a mobile device, network, and computer crimes. It involves fighting digital crimes for law enforcement organizations by investigating and retrieving digital information that would offer evidence or clues required to prosecute the perpetrator.
Sometimes, computer forensics is used interchangeably with digital forensics. However, both fields are slightly different in that computer forensics focusses on the scientific analysis of computer-related crimes. While digital forensics encompasses all digital gadgets used for storing digital data including mobile devices, CDs, JPEGs, emails, hard drives, PCs, Desktops, and so on.
How Do I Start A Career In Digital Forensics?
Your eligibility for a digital forensics career is dependent on a number of factors and these factors vary from one organization to the next. While most private organizations will probably hire you, with or without an IT experience, in as much as you have the necessary degree. Larger institutions and government agencies are unlikely to hire you without certain years of work or hands-on experience.
- Degree requirements: You need to have at least a Bachelor’s degree or Master’s degree in the required fields. Examples include a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science or Engineering, Cyber Security, or a Master of Science in Cyber Security with a specialization in digital forensic.
- Certifications: Your degree may not be enough to land you a job in larger organizations, you need to become certified. EC-Council offers Computer Hacking Forensics Investigation (C|HFI) certification program and other certifications in related fields including security analysis, encryption, and disaster recovery. For more information, check out our certification programs.
- Hard Skills: Your knowledge about computers, operating systems, digital forensic tools, hardware and software systems, and computing networks is critical.
- Soft Skills: As a good digital forensics investigator you need to have critical thinking skills, documenting, and report writing skills.
- Work Experience: The level of experience required is based on a number of factors. If you are applying for an internship position, you don’t need any experience. However, for entry-level forensic analyst jobs, you need 1 to 2 years of experience. For a senior-level job, you need 2 to 3 years of experience. Whereas, you need above 5 years of experience for a managerial position.
What Are Some Of The Challenges for Digital Forensics Career?
The challenges faced in digital forensic careers can be categorized into three groups, namely:
Digital forensics is somewhat of a new area for courts and the standing rules and regulations used to guide the prosecution of digital-based crimes, practices for computer forensics, and other legal precedents continue to change. Anyone charged with the responsibility of ensuring constant network security must be conversant with the legal consequences of digital forensics processes.
Digital forensics investigators must consider their technical activities and policy decisions in conjunction with existing legal regulations. These legal challenges include privacy issues, jurisdictional issues, and lack of standardized international legislation. It is becoming increasingly crucial that your organization can prove that it is to prove that it is complying with the required computer security procedures.
For example, you need certain authorizations to monitor and retrieve information that is linked with computer intrusion, so you don’t breach the individual’s privacy rights. Likewise, certain legal ramifications must be considered before applying some security monitoring technologies.
One of the most overwhelming challenges faced while pursuing any digital forensics career is the technologies and technical skills required in cloud settings. Although some people use technology to further facilitate work and to reduce the energy exerted while carrying out both mental and physical tasks, others use technology for malicious intents.
The challenge with technical advancements is that while forensics investigations are going on to refute or support an evidence needed to prosecute an intruder, another technology is being developed that helps the perpetrator to effectively hide their identities. Some common technical challenges include
- Varying media formats
- Covert channels
- Anti-forensics tools
- Live acquisition and analysis
- Residual data wiping
There are different resources available for different forensics investigations. This can prove challenging based on the time required to obtain and analyze the forensic data, the volume of the data involved in the case, and the difficulty that comes with gathering accurate and trusted evidence.
Depending on the volume of the data, a forensics investigation might be time-consuming. However, considering that time is a limited resource for a computer forensics analyst, this poses as a challenge during the investigation process.
Likewise, data resources which are not properly preserved or damaged are useless to the computer forensics analyst. So, it is a critical challenge for computer forensics investigators when the digital materials gathered or detected are not useable to them.
How Much do Digital Forensics Make?
Several factors can influence the salary earned by a digital forensic investigator, including geographic location, job description, scope and size of the company you intend to work for, and the challenges mentioned above that you may need to address. Based on the report provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (2018), the average salary you can earn in this field is up to 98,350 USD per annum.
Furthermore, following the survey conducted by Payscale, the median salary of a digital forensic analyst is 72,929 USD per year. Analysts can earn larger amounts when they are contracted by private government agencies. Computer forensics investigators can also earn more salaries with advanced degrees, certifications, security clearance, and work experience.
How to Become a Computer Forensics Investigator
EC-Council is an internationally accepted certification and training company that specializes in the fields of digital forensics, ethical hacking or anti-hacking, and penetration testing. The aim of the CHFI certification program is to confirm the candidate’s competences and capabilities to pinpoint a perpetrator’s footprints and to correctly assemble all the relevant evidence needed to take legal actions against the intruder.
The EC-Council offers training for the CHFI certificate but allows applicants to participate in the examination without having to take the required course. In as much as the candidate provides a minimum of two years of information security experience and pays a non-refundable $100 eligibility application fee. The EC-Council also offers several other certification programs that are valuable for IT professionals in the CHFI. Click here, for more information about our EC-Council’s CHFI program today!
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