Did you know that there is a cyber-attack every thirty-nine seconds? It is estimated that by the year 2021, $7 trillion will be made from cybercriminal activities. Investigating these attacks can prove to be difficult since cybercriminals keep inventing new ways of covering their tracks. The job of assessing the damage caused by a security breach and tracking those responsible belongs to a forensics investigator.
What is forensic science and what is its role in criminal investigations?
Digital forensics or digital forensic science, is a branch of forensic science that focuses on the recovery and investigation of material related to cybercrime, found in digital devices. The term digital forensics was first used as a synonym for computer forensics. Since then, it has expanded to cover the investigation of any devices that can store digital data.
Forensic investigators are computer experts that sit at the intersection of computing and law enforcement. They perform a number of criminal investigations by dissecting the anatomy of a digital attack. A certified fraud investigator can work directly with law enforcement organizations such as the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) or for private organizations that coordinate with law enforcement to bring cybercriminals to justice. Since cybersecurity investigation entails the gathering of data and evidence of an attack, forensics investigators act as witnesses to most cybercrime activities.
What is the role of a Forensic Investigator?
It is the job of a cybersecurity investigator to investigate an attack that has already happened by recreating the attacker’s footsteps. A cybersecurity investigator is also known as a forensic investigator or a fraud investigator. Forensic investigators conduct their investigations on a myriad of digital computing artifacts like computer systems, CDs, hard drives, and electronic documents like emails and JPEG files. The digital forensics sector is divided into several branches that include databases, firewalls, mobile devices, and network forensics. A forensics investigator can work with different organizations such as the government, accounting firms, banks, law firms, and software development companies. Any business that uses computer systems or web applications requires the services of a forensics investigator at some point in time. Other cybersecurity investigators chose to start their own forensics consulting firms to get the opportunity of working with a variety of clients across all sectors.
What do crime scene investigators do daily?
Digital forensics is an interesting career that could be pursued by anyone who enjoys drilling down into problems and solving them using advanced computing skills. A forensics investigator’s daily role includes the investigation of the following:
- Hard disk and file system – these are an especially important source of information for a forensics investigator hence they should have vast knowledge of these two.
- Mobile forensics – since mobile phones are used to commit many cybercrimes and are widely used, an investigator should be able to retrieve information like deleted messages and logs and use them to augment their forensics investigations.
- OS forensics – a forensics investigator should have proper understanding of the common operating systems like windows, MAC, and LINUX which are mostly targeted by cybercriminals.
- Cloud forensics – with cloud computing being widely adopted more, a forensics investigator must learn how to conduct their investigations in a cloud environment.
- Email forensics – since social engineering attacks are mostly perpetrated via email, an investigator should be able to follow this trail and capture cybercriminals.
How to Become a Forensics Investigator
To be a forensics investigator, one must have either a diploma in digital forensics, a degree in computer forensics, or consider “intelligence certifications” a part of which should consider “Digital Forensics”. An alternative is acquiring hands-on skills by learning on the job. But the sure-fire way to become an established forensics investigator is to obtain the EC-Council Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI) certification. A computer forensics training will fortify the application knowledge of law enforcement personnel, system administrators, security officers, defense and military personnel, legal professionals, bankers, security professionals, and anyone who is concerned about the integrity of the network infrastructure.