(ARA) – Cyber crime is one of the fastest growing areas of crime in the world. As an increasing number of businesses and individuals use personal computers to communicate, work, learn, plan and entertain, the risk for a cyber attack is more prevalent than ever. Because computers have essentially become an extension of their users, the information they contain is valuable and extremely vulnerable. As a result of this, need is increasing for people educated in computer forensics or computer forensic investigators.
Computer forensics is the specialized practice of investigating computer media to discover and analyze available, deleted or “hidden” information that may serve as useful evidence in a legal matter. Computer forensics can be used to uncover potential evidence in many types of cases including copyright infringement, money laundering, piracy, blackmail, child pornography and corruption.
The computer-based evidence extracted by computer forensics investigators can range from e-mail to photos to confidential documents. Even if the computer user has deleted the information, defragmented or reformatted the drive, a forensics investigator can still retrieve the data. The combination of specialized techniques and advanced software used to view and analyze potential evidence cannot be accessed by an ordinary computer user.
Once necessary evidence has been retrieved, investigators prepare very detailed and technical reports on the data that will later be presented in court. Following the assembly of these reports, forensics investigators must provide expert testimony in court regarding the information they’ve acquired and what methods they used to recover it.
Computer forensics evidence often means the difference between winning and losing a case – making forensics investigators very valuable to attorneys. Paper documentation, for example, can easily be thrown away or manipulated, but computer evidence cannot be disproved, because it is the result of a scientific process and exists in a concrete form.
For those with a degree in computer forensics, career opportunities exist with larger computer forensics consulting firms, law enforcement agencies or the military, or individuals may choose to be a freelance investigator working on specific cases and projects.
Joseph Morgan, a graduate of DeVry University, is a computer forensics examiner with the Olathe, Kan. Police Department, assigned to the FBI Task Force at the Heart of America Computer Forensics Lab. He works with Missouri and Kansas law enforcement agencies in the fight against child pornography. His duties include preserving and imaging digital evidence, examining bit-by-bit images and recovering evidence needed for case agents to continue their investigations.
“I became interested in the computer forensics field when I was working as a school resource officer in the Olathe School District,” says Morgan. “As I talked to children about the Internet, I became aware that many were victims of cyber-bullying and in some cases, even exposed to pornography.”
The more questions Morgan asked students, the more concerned he became about their well-being in cyberspace. “Coincidentally, my neighbor is a professor at DeVry University and I expressed my interests in investigating and fighting cyber crimes. He suggested I speak with the Dean of the Computer Information Systems program who discussed the possibilities of the computer forensics concentration. After speaking with him, I was certain this was exactly what I was looking to pursue.”
“DeVry University provided me the appropriate education and skills needed to excel in the computer forensics field,” he says. “I can honestly say that if it were not for my career-focused degree from DeVry University, I would not be where I am today.”
Anyone interested in pursuing a degree in the field of computer forensics needs attention to detail, problem-solving skills, precision, objectivity and excellent communication and written skills. DeVry University offers associate, bachelor’s and graduate degree programs in the information security field at campuses located across the nation as well as online. To learn more about obtaining a degree in this growing field log on to www.devry.edu for more information.
Author: Andy Quayle
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