What Is Forensic Computing?

Forensic computing is a relatively new discipline in digital crime detection. The term computer forensics was initially used by law enforcement officials in the late 1980's to refer to the analysis of single computers for electronic proof that a crime had been committed. Read on to learn more. Schools offering Computer Forensics degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Field Overview

As computers and computer networks have become more prevalent in modern society, computer crimes have increased at an astounding rate. Because of this escalation in digital crimes, forensic investigations occur for many reasons, such as recovering digital evidence for criminal and civil litigation or retrieving lost data. Typically, forensic computing consists of the following steps:

  • Secure the computer hardware or software that's under investigation
  • Pinpoint possible locations of the digital evidence
  • Recover all files, including hidden, temporary, protected, and deleted records
  • Ensure that recovered digital evidence is properly secured and preserved
  • Evaluate the data and the settings from all applications and other programs
  • Use established procedures to document legally acceptable evidence, including a detailed report of the user's activities on the system
  • Maintain a complete audit log of all activities performed during the investigation

Important Facts About Forensic Science Technicians

Work Environment Police departments and offices, crime laboratories, morgues, medical examiner/coroner offices
Licensure/Certification Professional credentials available in multiple specializations
On-the-Job Training Moderate-term on-the-job training
Similar Occupations Biochemists and biophysicists, epidemiologists, fire inspectors and investigators, police and detectives, medical scientists

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education

A career in forensic computing requires solid technical and analytical training. Although some technicians may have associate's degrees, most computer forensics workers hold a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Information Technology, or a similar degree. Forensic computing professionals could also earn a Master of Science in Information Technology, Computer Science, or a related degree.

Training and Skills

Graduates who have earned degrees in some related fields, including criminal justice, might take additional training in forensic computing or certification programs. Technicians and other forensic computing professionals should possess knowledge and skills in a wide range of areas, including:

  • Investigative techniques
  • Operating systems
  • Programming languages
  • Software applications
  • Reverse software engineering

Job Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job openings for forensic science technicians - a category that includes computer forensic examiners - are expected to increase 27% between 2014 and 2024, which is slower than average. The mean annual salary among all forensic science technicians was $58,610 as of 2014.

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