Cyber forensics professionals are investigators that respond to cybercrime and serious data breaches. Organizations need cyber forensics to answer vital questions such as – what happened, how it happened, how bad it is, and who’s responsible.
A cyber forensic expert uses sophisticated techniques to get to the bottom of each incident. Their investigation is meticulous, focusing on creating a reliable evidence chain. The evidence they produce is admissible in court, which can help settle lawsuits—and bring cybercriminals to justice.
This kind of investigation is essential at a time when cybercrime is skyrocketing. The FBI’s digital unit investigated $6.9 billion in cyber fraud in 2021—a 500% increase in just five years (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2021). The threat is real. That’s why there’s a growing demand for skilled, certified cyber forensics professionals.
Cyber forensics is the discipline of studying digital sources to find reliable evidence of serious data security incidents. A cyber forensics investigation involves looking for clues from sources such as physical devices, network logs, databases, and cloud services. The investigator will attempt to restore deleted data and may even search the dark web for information.
Data integrity is the most crucial part of cyber forensics. If there is any data loss or contamination, it could undermine the whole investigation. That’s why digital forensics analysts always follow a strict process:
Cyber forensics is a vitally important job, and not only in the fight against cybercrime. Digital evidence now plays a role in over 90% of all criminal trials (Yawn, 2015). Justice depends on having access to digital evidence that is reliable, objective, and accurate.
Businesses are currently fighting for their lives against the constant threat of cyberattacks. Data breaches are expensive, costing up to $180 per individual record compromised (IBM, 2021). A data breach can also expose a business to sabotage, espionage, or extortion.
Responding to security incidents isn’t easy. It can take up to 287 days—over nine months—to identify and repair a data breach (IBM, 2021). During that time, the organization will lose vital data that could help track down the criminals responsible.
To fight back, many companies are hiring extra in-house computer forensics experts or working with forensic cybersecurity consultants. These experts are helping to deal with a wave of new threats, including:
The average business spends 10% of its annual IT budget on cybersecurity (Deloitte, 2020), most of which goes on prevention. But, when their defenses fail, those companies need cyber forensic professionals to investigate and find answers—fast.
As long as there is cybercrime, there will be a demand for cyber forensic analysts.
Full-time salaries for digital forensics professionals average at around $74,902 (Payscale, 2022). You can also work as a private consultant, which would mean billing clients according to your hourly rates.
You will need strong technical training and IT knowledge to succeed as a cyber forensic professional. You’ll also need the right qualifications (see next section) and experience in cybersecurity.
Most of all, you will need the right personal qualities, such as:
Cyber forensics can be a steppingstone to a senior career in cybersecurity. This path can lead to jobs like security architect or Chief Information Security Officer (CISO).
If you think cyber forensics is the right choice for you, then here’s the good news: there’s never been a better time to start.
Employers need cybersecurity people at all levels, from entry-level cyber forensics positions to senior consultants. These positions allow you to get hands-on experience and to see how cyber forensics works in the real world.
Some training options can help make you eligible to apply for vacancies. Here are a few cyber forensic courses to consider:
Bernard, J. Nicholson, M. (2020, July 4). Reshaping the cybersecurity landscape.
Chavez-Dreyfuss, G. (2022, January 6). Cryptocurrency crime in 2021 hit an all-time high in value. Reuters.
Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2021) Internet Crime Report 2021.
IBM Security. (2021, July 28). Cost of a Data Breach Report 2022.
Payscale. (2022). Average Forensic Computer Analyst Salary.
Statista. (2022) Number of Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices worldwide from 2019 to 2030.
Warburton, D. (2021). Phishing Attacks Soar 220% During COVID-19 Peak as Cybercriminal Opportunism Intensifies.
Yawn, A.J. (2015). In crime investigations, digital evidence ‘outweighs’ DNA. Montgomery Advertiser.
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