Ryan Andrew Sanderson
12 May 2015
Computer forensic specialist
Ever since I was a young boy, I found myself intrigued by computers and technology. While my friends were occupying themselves with Lego™, I was taking apart and assembling computers. I’m not certain what it was that attracted me to them. Perhaps it was the entrancing hum from the old hard drives; or the warm glow from the beaconing power light. Whatever it was that got me into computers, it was clear from the beginning that they would be a fundamental component in my life. As time went on, I discovered several career paths in the Computer and Technology field, each with its own sub divisions. But only one stood out to me: Computer Forensics.
Computer forensics is a fresh and developing career field, emerging only in the last thirty years. The common availability and widespread use of computers has caused computer crimes to surge at a disturbing rate. Computers have given lawbreakers a new method to carrying out their crimes. After a crime or a dubious act is detected on a computer, or any other form of technology, a digital investigation must follow. The computers investigated will typically be either those used to commit the crime or those which are the targets of the crime (Sanya-Isijola 2).
Firstly, computer forensic specialists must have a four year college degree. This degree must be in either, Information Technology, Computer Science or Security and Risk analysis (“Computer Forensic” 2). These are long and strenuous courses; the candidate shouldn’t take them lightly. If the specialist wanted to go into Law Enforcement or into private detective work, then an undergraduates study, such as an associate’s degree or a minor, in criminal justice, is recommended, as it will prepare the candidate for the skills that will be required whilst on the job (“Computer Forensics” 2). I am currently studying for my associates’ degree in criminal justice. After I obtain this I will hopefully be pursuing my Security and Risk analysis degree at Penn State, where they have one of the best scenario labs in the western hemisphere. Next, computer forensic specialists have several roles. The majority of specialists work for law enforcement agencies. The role of the specialist is to recover data like documents, photos and e-mails from computer hard drives and other data storage devices, such as flash drives, that have been erased, damaged or otherwise manipulated. Every action that is performed by a user on a computer or any other electronic device, leaves a digital ‘finger print’ it is the specialists job to find this data to prove what files were accessed, what files were modified and what websites were visited (Sanya-Isijola 2). As an information security expert, a computer forensic specialist may also use their knowledge in a corporate environment to protect computers from penetration, discover how a computer was broken into or recover lost files. They support detectives and other officials examine data and evaluate its significance to the case under investigation. Specialists also hand over the evidence in a format that can be used for legal purposes and frequently give evidence in court themselves (“Computer Forensic” 1).
Also, a wide array of salary opportunies and financial benefits are available. The average salary of a computer forensic specialist, who enters law enforcement, is between $34,480 and $92,590 with a potential to earn up to $103,270 becoming a detective (Echaore-McDavid 3). Secondly, should the candidate choose to become a consultant, they would be able to charge an hourly rate for their time, as well as claiming for expenses such as mileage, accommodation, and any ‘office costs’. The hourly rate consultants can charge is typically up to $400 per hour. Working a forty hour week, the Specialist can earn up to $832,000 per annum (Roufa 2). Finally, if the specialist were to go into government employment,...
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