Computer Forensic Analyst Jobs

What is a Computer Forensic Analyst?

A computer forensic analyst or forensic expert examines computer systems to detect and gather potential evidence of cybercrime. Items you may be required to examine include computers, networks and other related IT equipment such as mobiles and tablets.

You will be collecting evidence of cybercrime which could then resultantly be used to prove charges against cybercriminals. This evidence will then be passed on to law enforcement bodies or relevant regulatory bodies to be organised as part of their prosecution.

What does an IT forensic expert do?

IT forensic experts are typically involved in the investigation following data breaches or other security incidents. You will need to understand how to dismantle and rebuild complex computer systems and how to identify any incriminating data you come across.

Those involved with criminal IT forensics may also play a key role in liaising with lawyers/prosecutors to collect evidence to be used in a legal case and even providing expert testimony if required.

Some common responsibilities include:

  • Security investigation

Conducting full investigations of an alleged cyber criminal’s systems or the hardware and networks of implicated businesses.

  • Data recovery

The IT forensic expert will need to be experienced in sourcing original hardware and files on a system physically and digitally. This will also entail dismantling and reconstruction of related systems to locate any data that may have been previously unavailable.

  • Collecting and compiling evidence

You will need to be able to create reports and collate any possible evidence you find and pass these on to the related bodies involved.

  • Creating technical reports

You will also be expected to create technical reports throughout your investigation alongside the evidence gathered.

  • Assisting investigators

You will need to fully co-operate with any other investigators working on the case to fully understand the data collected and what it means for the case.

  • Expert testimony

For those investigations which are taken to court, you may be required to provide expert testimony as part of the case to help those involved better understand your findings.

  • Reverse engineering of successful attacks

If a breach or attack has been successful, you will need to be able to reverse engineer it in full detail to understand how it was successful and what the cause was to report back to the organisation involved.

How much does a computer forensic analyst make?

The average salary in the UK, according to https://www.payscale.com is £31,000, with the lower 10% averaging £18,000. In the US, the average is much higher, reaching $72,000 and $44,000 for the lower 10%.

Why do organisations need computer forensics?

Computer forensics is vital for organisations in the event of a breach or other security breach as the forensic expert will be able to accurately track the movements of the criminal actor to determine what damage has been done and how it happened. This allows businesses to understand how to proceed, considering which customers might have been affected and what security measures need to be put in place to stop it happening again.

Additionally, the role of computer forensics in identifying other cybercrime infractions is an important part of the legal system in data recovery, evidence collection and analysis.

What is the difference between cyber security and computer forensics?

In general, cyber security is used as an umbrella term for the roles encompassing data security, such as hardware and network security management, threat prevention and detection and vulnerability assessment.

On the other hand, computer forensics is more based on response and usually follows a breach of cyber security systems. Computer forensics is about analysing what went wrong with the existing cyber security protocols and finding solutions.

What qualifications do I need to be a forensic analyst?

Typically, organisations will require a degree in a field such as computer science, computer forensics or computer engineering. Because of the highly technical nature of this role, it may also be helpful to work towards a master’s in a relevant subject to help in your job search.

You may also consider working towards qualifications such as the GIAC Certified Forensic Analyst (GCFA) or the GIAC Certified Forensic Examiner (GCFE).

How do I become an IT forensic expert?

This role is typically broken down into junior, mid-level and senior categories, meaning those interested in computer forensics may be able to apply for entry-level junior positions with less experience. From here, you can work your way up towards the role of senior forensics manager.

Alternatively, some candidates may enter the role from law enforcement, which will likely include on-the-job training in computer forensics before you take on the role of forensic analyst or specialist.

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