What Does a Computer Forensics Analyst do? Is this job right for you?
Computer forensics sounds like a productive TV crime job, but is this profession in real life what it sounds like? What does a digital data forensic analyst do in the real world, and is it the right career path for you?
Let’s explore the definition of “computer forensics”, and analyze how to get such a job.
What is computer forensics?
If regular forensics involves examining crime scenes for clues, computer forensics takes this skill into the digital realm. With cybercrime on the rise, businesses and individuals are turning to computer forensics analysts to keep their data safe.
A computer forensics analyst specializes in cybercrime. He knows how criminals gain access to systems and what to do with the contents inside.
As such, he can play one of the two roles; First, it can act as an advisor to customers who are concerned about their security. Second, it can investigate and identify the damage done after a hacker successfully accessed any system.
Being able to do his or her job either before or after a hack occurs, a computer forensics analyst finds himself in different workplaces. He may work with clients to prevent an attack, or with the law to analyze an attack that occurred previously.
Some employers will also use the term “digital forensics” for this task. There is no difference between an analyst and an investigator.
Computer forensics or digital forensics is a branch of forensic science that involves the retrieval and search of material on digital devices such as hard drives, often related to computer crime or cell phone crime.
The term digital criminal was originally synonymous with the term computer criminal, but it was expanded to include all devices that store digital data. .
What does a computer forensics analyst do?
The role of the analyst depends on what he or she is hired to do. If the analyst is called in to stop hackers, it will scan the system for any vulnerabilities. It will check for any defects that can arise from external attacks (hackers) or those related to internal agents (espionage, theft). He will inform the customer of his investigations and tell him how to solve the problems he found.
If the analyst is working with the law to investigate crimes, they will use their knowledge to put together a hypothesis for a story. As UCAS states, the analyst may recover deleted files, browse phone records, and find evidence that someone managed to manipulate an image important to the case.
Once the analyst finds evidence, he writes his findings into a report. He might even appear in court to give testimony to the judge!
Whichever path an analyst follows, they need the same set of skills. He needs an in-depth knowledge of how a criminal operates, and the methods he uses to get into a system.
What are the salaries of computer forensic analysts?
According to PayScale, computer forensics jobs pay between $48k-$116k. This number is before taxes or bonuses, but it gives a good idea of what to expect. Although a starting analyst won’t get rich from day one, a career can grow into a great way to make a living.
How do you become a computer forensics analyst?
In order to become a computer forensics analyst, it is worth getting a degree in this field. Schools of criminal justice say that future analysts must have a bachelor’s degree in computer forensics. A degree will get you through the door when applying to potential companies.
Study says you can also get a computer science degree with a forensic background. As such, if you can’t find a university near you that teaches computer forensics, try computer science instead. Computer science is a core subject in IT academies, so you would be better off finding courses that provide information on computer forensics online.
You can also try to climb the job ladder to get into the role of an analyst. The UK’s National Careers Service recommends starting as an IT support technician. From there, you can work for years and move up the ladder until eventually landing a forensic job.
Is a career in computer forensics analyst right for you?
If you are interested in this career, you must have a deep passion for cyber security and digital forensics. You must know how criminals break into systems, and how to defend against them.
A good analyst will know how to recover after an attack. It will know that the deleted file can still be on the file system, and how the data on the drives is not completely erased unless it is cleaned by a third-party tool. He will know how to check system logs to find unauthorized entry and find how the hacker got there.
To be an effective computer forensics analyst, you need to be a “thief to catch thief.” Your expertise can make or break a criminal, so you must be confident in your abilities!
Fortunately, there are legal ways you can test your hacking skills. If you want to know more, try a website that you can hack legally and face its challenges.
Where to learn about computer forensics
If you’ve reached this point and are eager to become a computer forensics analyst, why not take the first step? These days, you can download resources and take online courses to see if the job is right for you. These will teach you what computer forensics is, and what is expected of you as an analyst.
As an example, there is the Computer Forensics and Investigations Handbook. While it is quite expensive, it is the best way to learn more about the job and what is required. Unlike a full course, you can learn at your own pace with no commitment.
If you want to commit a little more, you can try looking for local colleges and universities that offer a course. If you are not sure that you can invest the time, try Udemy online courses. You can learn from Udemy courses at your leisure, and each course gives you a certificate proving that you have completed it.
The Computer Forensics Fundamentals course is a quick and easy way to learn the basics. Once you graduate from it, you can step up your game with our Digital Forensic Series: Computer Forensics course which has over 13 hours of video content at the time of writing!
Find the right tech job for you
The world of tech jobs is vast, and with it comes a variety of different roles. Digital forensics jobs are one such specialized job and require an in-depth knowledge of how hackers operate. If this sounds exciting, try a course or textbook and see how it works for you.