When information is stolen from a computer, network, web application, mobile phone, or other digital device, digital forensics, or cybercrime forensics, experts are called upon to investigate. The goal of the forensics team is to figure out exactly what happened and how it happened, retrieve and/or restore stolen or destroyed data files, and collaborate with other information security experts to prevent it from happening again.
Digital forensics specialists, the CSIs of the information security world, are crucial in mitigating any damage caused by cybercrime and reconstructing the crime to help in bringing the perpetrators to justice.
Where the law is involved, adhering to the rule of law is critical to a good investigation’s conclusion. For digital forensics specialists, following proper evidence handling protocols would be critical. Governments or government suppliers/contractors hire a large number of digital forensic experts. A high-level security clearance is needed for the majority of these roles.
Four Steps to Becoming a Digital Forensics Expert
1. Education: Digital forensics careers can be pursued through a number of college degree programmes. Computer engineering, computer science, electrical engineering, applied mathematics, cryptography, information technology, and, of course, digital forensics are all examples of these fields. Master’s degrees are often needed for more advanced positions in digital forensics.
2. Career path: Entry-level positions in digital forensics are available and offer excellent entry points into the profession. Working in general forensics positions while honing your information security skills is also an option. Positions in information technology sectors, with a particular emphasis on cybersecurity, are also in high demand. Another path that can lead to a career in digital forensics is software development.
3. Professional certifications: Employers like to see a variety of professional certifications on resumes, and this is particularly valid for higher-level jobs. There are several certifications available in the field of digital forensics. Several organisations now offer commonly recognised certifications in the field of digital forensics.
4. Stay current: As with most cybersecurity careers, it’s important to stay up to date on what’s going on in the industry. When a sector has its own specialist trade group, it is easier to keep expertise and information up to date with all of the latest developments. The International Society of Forensic Computer Examiners, or ISFCE, is the organisation in the field of digital forensics.
For digital forensics professionals, we provide related continuing education, technical training, and proficiency testing. Another cybercrime forensics agency, the Scientific Working Group on Digital Evidence (SWGDE), is committed to keeping industry professionals’ expertise and skills up to date. SWGDE aims to promote open dialogue between business associations and practitioners.
What is a Digital Forensics Expert ?
Digital forensics experts have a wide range of job titles, but they all follow a similar pattern. Digital forensics engineer, digital forensics investigator, digital forensics specialist, digital forensics researcher, digital forensics inspector, digital forensics technician, and others are among the most common job titles.
Job scope is likely to vary less than title, but it will undoubtedly be influenced by seniority and experience levels. Experts in cybercrime forensics are usually called in after a data security breach has occurred. That’s when you put on your CSI trench coat and start digging through the facts. There will be no blood and guts, just digital trails.
Digital Forensics Skills and Experience
Digital forensic investigators must have in-depth and low-level knowledge of as many of these technologies as possible because post-mortem investigations of digital crimes include investigations of computing devices, including mobile devices, apps, and storage databases and devices.
Employers are likely to have the following skill requirements:
- Awareness of popular operating systems, such as mobile operating systems, networks, and hardware
- Understanding of forensic techniques for tracking down specific electronic data
- Understanding of the current exploit methodologies and proficiency in the latest cyber forensics, response, and reverse engineering skills.
- Experience with UFED Analytics Desktop and disc and memory forensics software is a plus.
- Detection of malware and obfuscated code
- Creating and designing custom systems to make proof gathering easier.
- Backups of mobile devices and password cracking for different office file types
Office and pdf documents have their metadata cleaned up.
- Encryption, both hardware and software, is a skill that you should have.
Basic machine languages awareness, such as:
Employers also seek certifications from the ISFCE (International Society of Forensic Computer Examiners), IACIS (International Association of Computer Investigative Specialists), GIAC (Global Information Assurance Certification), CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional), and (ISC)2 (International Information Systems Security Certifiion).
More basic certifications, such as CompTIA A+, which certifies IT operational and technical support skills, may be needed by some employers. There are a variety of training and qualification options available that concentrate on one or a few particular types of hardware or operating systems. iOS Forensics, for example, focuses on Apple’s famously difficult-to-crack iPhone operating systems.
With its OSForensics toolset, Passmark Software, a leader in hardware and software performance benchmarking, has advanced into digital forensics. Many of the activities associated with digital forensics are performed by it. Digital forensics practitioners may also hone and demonstrate their proficiency with OSForensics through Passmark’s training and certification programme.
Employers are looking for written and oral communication abilities, outstanding analytical skills, the ability to plan complicated inquiries, and the ability to record and communicate results to clients as soft skills.
What do Digital Forensics Experts do?
Almost every legal investigation now includes a digital component. Digital forensics is now used as a key aspect in most investigations, from civil cases like infidelity, child custody, accident reconstruction, civil disputes, and missing persons to criminal cases like fraud, espionage, burglary, larceny, and wrongful death. Information security breaches are clearly a big concern for digital forensics experts.
To retrieve all relevant data, digital forensics experts use their expertise and experience of all aspects of information systems and security to find answers. This encompasses a broad range of computer hardware and software, as well as networking and mobile devices and systems.
Digital forensics experts will use this information and try to retrieve lost data, analyse recovered data, and conduct a full forensic analysis on all computers, databases, and systems. This data is compiled and used to recreate what occurred, after which it is shared with those who were affected. Digital forensics experts are often called upon to provide expert evidence in civil or criminal trials that have reached the courts.
Digital Forensics Expert Job Description
The basic roles of digital forensics specialists can differ significantly depending on the employer’s agenda and the case at hand. Any or more of the following tasks can be included in the tasks:
- Identify, capture, archive, and analyse electronic data from printers, desktops, servers, backup tapes, mobile phones, PDAs, and a number of other media using leading forensic software.
- User data, secret data, file fragments, and temporary files can all be recovered.
Keeping track of and managing electronic proof
- Identify and record an attacker’s strategies, methods, and procedures for gaining unauthorised access.
- Based on analytic results, create and distribute interaction reports, technical reports, and briefs.
- When imaging, storing, transporting, and treating electronic data and related physical equipment, use industry-standard forensic best practises.
- Expert witness testimony is needed.
The Future of Digital Forensics
For the near future, information security practitioners will be in strong and increasingly rising demand. In reality, there is a critical shortage of information security professionals across all disciplines, which is expected to last well into the next decade. These systems become more directly focused and vulnerable as networks, software, and information needs become more complex and essential to business and state operations.
Almost every form of company needs digital forensics experts. When looking through job postings, one can find positions at a variety of companies, and the larger the business, the more digital forensics experts it is likely to need. Government agencies are prime employers because digital forensics is now often used in criminal investigations.
District attorney offices, police departments, the FBI, and the CIA are all searching for new members to join their digital forensics teams. Indeed, the FBI recently developed the Forensic Examiner Talent Network, which is intended to provide a stable of expert cybercrime forensics talent.
How Much do Digital Forensics Experts Make?
Digital forensics practitioners earn between $50,000 and $114,000 a year, according to Payscale.com, with an estimated annual salary of $72,000. Bonuses, commissions, and profit-sharing arrangements can add up to $25,000 a year. One work that paid $160,000 was discovered after a fast search of job posting sites.