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Digital Forensics

Digital Forensics Career Overview

What is Digital Forensics?

Digital Forensics is the investigation of cybercrime incidents and is often also known as Computer Forensics. The role of the Digital Forensics professional is to intervene after a breach has occurred and determine what happened, who was responsible, how data or applications can be recovered, and how to prevent future breaches from occurring.

It is especially important for law enforcement personnel since it aids in the collection of evidence needed to locate and bring to justice cyber criminals. To assist businesses in recovering from attacks and fortifying their defences, however, there is also a large demand for these employees in the private sector.

To recover data from systems and devices, these professionals work on highly technical problems, sometimes digging deeply into hardware and software using specialised tools. Although responding to security situations or suspected crimes drives the majority of their work, Digital Forensics specialists do it systematically and attentively, keeping their work pace under control.

A variety of skills is needed to succeed as a Digital Forensics specialist. These include soft skills to communicate their work to non-specialist audiences, detailed awareness of the most recent cyber-attack strategies, and deep knowledge of a variety of technology like operating systems, computer programming, and digital storage.

Individuals in this pathway remain aware of the current attack methods and objectives of possible attackers, as well as the vulnerabilities of the software and hardware that are already in use, likely including cloud technologies. Digital Forensics professionals are technically proficient, well-informed, and quick to pick things up.

Roles & Responsibilities

What are the roles and responsibilities of a Digital Forensics Practitioner?

In this field, whether in response to a security issue or as part of an investigation into potential criminal behaviour, you'll apply in-depth technical expertise, sophisticated tools, and techniques to gather, analyse, and report on the data contents of devices and systems. The tasks likely included in this role are as follows:

  • Utilise specialised tools and methods to directly or remotely access data from devices and systems, particularly through imaging storage media.
  • Analyse harmful software to identify attack strategies and spot flaws.
  • Handle resources and data with care, adhering to chain of custody regulations, to prevent contamination or corruption.
  • Detect evidence of harmful or illegal behaviour, by analysing files, data, and memory contents.
  • Create official reports on your investigations, frequently up to the standards of evidential submission.
Digital Forensics Salary

What is the salary of a Digital Forensics Practitioner?

As of September 2022, the median salary for a Digital Forensics Practitioner is £67,500, although wages upwards of £120,000 for senior practitioners have been reported. Most of the higher salaries are based in the UK’s larger cities, so it is expected that roles elsewhere may offer lower wages. It is also to be noted that many listed positions are in law enforcement, where public-sector wages are often lower than those of comparable private-sector positions.

Data has been taken from ITJobsWatch (IT Jobs Watch | Real-Time Digital & IT Job Market Trends & Actionable Insights), which calculates the median from job vacancies published online within the last 6 months.

Knowledge, Skills, and Behaviours

What are the knowledge, skills, and behaviours required in Digital Forensics?

  • Problem-solving, logical thinking, and report writing skills.
  • Technical aptitude.
  • Awareness of legal and ethical issues regarding data.
  • Analysis skills, focusing on file systems, memory artefacts, and software, potentially involving decompilation.
  • Have a firm understanding of standard forensics software like UFED, EnCASE, and FTK.
  • Knowledge of international and national legal and regulatory standards, compliance obligations, and security ethics.
  • An understanding of security issues with large-scale infrastructure security, attacker models, safe-secure designs, and cyber-physical systems like the Internet of Things and Industrial Control Systems.
Career paths in Digital Forensics

What are the career paths in Digital Forensics?

Digital forensics roles often come in two levels: practitioner and senior practitioner. There are few entry-level roles; almost all practitioner roles demand substantial IT expertise, experience, and training in at least some digital forensics-related areas.

Digital Forensics Practitioner:

  • Undertakes tasks as outlined in the ‘Role Responsibilities’ section.
  • Is not likely to be asked to testify in court until they have more experience.

Digital Forensics Senior Practitioner:

  • May be in charge of overseeing a digital forensics lab and making sure that its procedures adhere to established standards.
  • In civil or criminal proceedings, may be summoned as an expert witness.
  • May coordinate or conduct training, formulate and evaluate policies, and oversee practitioners and standards.

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