Learn Computer Forensics: The Best Courses and Resources
There are millions of computer users on the planet. Every one of them is leaving a digital footprint. This might not sound like a big deal, but it can be vital in the criminal justice field when it comes to learning computer forensics.
If you’re interested in data, computer hardware, and criminal justice, there’s an exciting career opportunity waiting for you in computer forensics. This field is growing every day. Here’s how you can join the field and use data to help others.
What Is Computer Forensics?
Computer forensics is a field of digital forensics that examines digital media. Experts can identify, preserve, or recover information to analyze it and make decisions.
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People think about computer forensics as examining or recovering digital evidence to present in a court of law—they’re not wrong. As the field of computing has grown around the planet, so have criminal opportunities.
However, computer forensics experts may also weigh in on civil cases, or help the average consumer to recover old information. There are plenty of jobs in this field in both the public and private sectors.
What Jobs Use Computer Forensics Skills?
We’ve mentioned a few possible jobs above, but we’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible. Below are some of the best computer forensics job options so you can choose what works for you.
- Computer Forensics Investigator. Also known as a computer forensics analyst, these people work in law enforcement. They help recover data from storage media and use general forms of analysis over the course of an investigation. This position involves specific protocol, and you have to be good at your job. Your findings could be used in court.
- Security Consultant. These security experts investigate corporations and their data security. They help improve digital armor to prevent outside attacks. Most organizations want to make sure their sensitive data is well-protected, and they’re willing to pay well for peace of mind.
- Digital Archivist. Digital archivists develop, organize, and maintain the digital component of a collection. Many have computer programming skills to keep information for organizations like companies and libraries. The job may be as simple as extracting data from hard drives, or as complicated as digitizing and restoring 30 years of television history.
Steps to Learn Computer Forensics
If you’ve already familiar with computer software, you may be well on your way to learning computer forensics. A lot of jobs will require a degree, but you can show employers that you have a key grasp of computer forensics tools.
Below are some steps you can take to become a computer forensics expert.
1. Learn About the Tools
Computer forensics specialists use many tools over the course of their digital forensics investigations. By getting familiar with them, you’ll start to see the picture of the day to day work.
You should research tools like EnCase, which has been around for over 20 years. EnCase allows pros in the field to acquire data from smartphones, tablets, computers, and more. You can also do a bit of light coding in the software to customize searches for more precision.
Sometimes you’ll be called upon to investigate devices at the scene of a crime. In times like this, you’ll have to bring along a forensic field kit in order to ensure you have every possible interface.
2. Take Courses
These are only two examples of the tools you may end up using on a daily basis. Knowing the tools and their uses will make your education much easier.
If you have time and money, get a four-year degree in computer forensics, computer science, or a related field. This can give you the best understanding of computer forensics, and give you hands-on experience for job opportunities.
With online courses, you can get a handle on the field without going that route. You can take many computer science courses on your own for free or a minor investment.
Whether or not you do decide to go to school for computer forensics, you’ll need to practice the fundamentals. This can be as easy as testing tools on your own devices, or using your friend’s devices so they’re harder to get into.
EnCase is designed for more of a major organization setting, but there are tools out there for Unix/Linux or Windows users. Once you identify the tools that will be best for your situation, you’ll have to get out there and use them to master your field.
The Best Courses to Learn Computer Forensics
Here are some computer forensics courses to help you go from beginner to expert in no time. Do your research and you’ll be able to find the perfect course for you.
This short course gives you the basics of computer forensics. You’ll learn about the hardware and file systems, the software you need for your tasks, and what you should know if you’re working as a first responder. This course is a good foundation for future studies, so start here. You can dive deeper later to round out your knowledge.
The Rochester Institute of Technology offers pro-level tech courses on edX. This course on computer forensics is part of their cybersecurity unit. It’s designed to give you a background on working in computer forensics in law enforcement settings.
You’ll learn about everything from court admissibility to recovering files on Windows and Unix/Linux systems. The only prerequisite is another free course that will give you a background in cyber security. By the time you complete both classes, around four months, you should be able to become a cyber security engineer.
IBM offers this class as part of a path to a couple of cybersecurity certificates. In this course, you’ll learn more about penetration testing tools and incident response techniques. This class can give you a full picture of the role of computer forensics. You can investigate and prevent cyber attacks on any organization, public or private.
Why Learn Computer Forensics?
You should learn computer forensics because the field is bustling with innovation and new ideas. It continues to grow in importance as our society relies more and more on digital technology.
Computer forensics experts can earn somewhere between $57,000 to $100,000 yearly. There are plenty of jobs out there, not to mention the openings for investigators that work for cities, states, and the federal government.
With high demand, a certain future, and a solid salary, computer forensics is a secure career path for anyone interested in technology and justice.