I provided information about Digital Forensics at the print version of the Times of India. Here is a copy of it.
1) What are the variety of career paths Digital forensic science offers and their prospects?
Digital Forensics as a discipline lays on the intersection of Computer Science, Cyber Security and Cyber Crime. It is a rapidly evolving field that involves the recovery, analysis, preservation and presentation of digital evidence, derived from a variety of sources (digital devices, wearables, computers, cloud environments, UAVs, etc.) with the intention to be used in a court of law. Graduates can work as consultants in big firms, in law enforcement agencies, and they can also employed as cyber security and digital forensics analysts, threat hunting specialists, or to follow a different career path as forensics accountants if they come from a relevant background. Details of relevant roles are as follows: – Incident response specialists: As cyber-attacks become more sophisticated, this role is expected to grow because these specialists are the first to respond in such attacks. Furthermore, together with digital forensics analysts they identify what caused an incident and propose methods to mitigate further attacks. – Threat Hunting specialists: These cyber security professionals proactively search for threats and malicious activities in digital ecosystems. Their aim is to effectively detect potential security threats that could cause harm to an organization. – Cyber Security analysts: Are responsible for detecting and preventing cyber-attacks on computing systems, networks, digital, and industrial infrastructure. – Digital Forensic analysts examine (primarily) digital devices aiming to recover data that can be used as evidence in legal cases. They often work with other cyber security professionals and they can also be employed in governmental roles. – Forensic Accountants are investigating financial crimes and they usually analyse financial data to identify financial criminal activity or insider threats.
2) What is the primary focus of Digital forensic science? What does it rely on?
The primary focus of Digital Forensic professionals is to gather and analyse digital evidence to investigate circumstances that led to potential crimes or, in contrast, confirm alibis that prove certain individuals’ innocence. The evidence can be collected from any digital source, such as computers, digital devices, cloud services. It relies on scientific methods used in Computer Science and it is also referred as the art of collecting, recovering, preserving, and analysing digital evidence. Digital Forensic professionals are usually responsible for writing reports about their findings and for presenting their investigative results in the court. The area of Digital Forensics relies on specialized tools and techniques that enable analysts to make sense of the derived data. As technology is always evolving and the digital forensic field is constantly growing, specialists need to stay in touch with the latest advancements, methods and tools.
3) How to start a career in Digital forensics?
To start a career in Digital Forensics a candidate will normally require a combination of education, and/or formal training after pursuing a degree in Cyber Security, Digital Forensics or Computer Science in general. There exist undergraduate and postgraduate courses that enable candidates to acquire skills and knowledge to allow them to pursue a career in the field. These courses are usually focused on Cyber Security and Digital Forensics themes. Additionally, there exist dedicated institutions providing professional training focused on Digital Forensics, which are sometimes bound with organizations that provide Professional Certifications. Finally, a person interested in Digital Forensics may start as an intern, or an apprentice, gradually advancing their skills through hands-on experience. Digital Forensics as a discipline requires dedication and commitment because although it is based on fundamental principles, it is an ever-evolving field, adjusting to the advancements of technology.
4) The field of Digital Forensic Science is an interesting link between science and crime. Your take on this?
Of course this is true. Digital Forensics as a scientific discipline offers methods to acquire and analyse digital data from devices (or storage means) that were potentially used by perpetrators, either to commit or enable potential crimes (e.g., cyber-attacks, fraud, data exfiltration). Therefore, Digital Forensics can assist in investigations related to cyber and physical crimes, given the fact that technology is embedded in modern societies and humans tend to use (personal) digital devices (and/or computers) in all aspects of their lives. Thus, it is feasible for a skilled professional to acquire evidence from digital sources when requested by legal entities to assist criminal investigations. Digital Forensics as a discipline accumulates methods and theory from a wide scientific area including Computer Science, Cyber Security, Maths, and Engineering and it allows specialists to work closely with law enforcement agencies, legal professionals and the financial sector to enable digital evidence acquisition and analysis that will assist in crime investigations.
5) What are the top recruiting companies where jobs for Digital forensic science experts are available?
The demand for cyber security and digital forensic experts is growing as more organizations recognize the necessity of protecting their digital assets from cyber-attacks. Digital Forensic analysts not only assist in investigating incidents that might occurred in an organization, but they can also act proactively to protect them from malicious actors. Sectors where these kinds of specialists are needed are as follows: Digital forensic specialists are often employed by local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, or by government agencies, such as Departments of Defence, which hire individuals to help investigate cybercrimes and protect national security. Additionally, many consulting firms, such as “the big four”, hire digital forensic specialists to provide cybersecurity and forensic services to their clients. Similarly, large technology companies, often hire digital forensic specialists to help investigate security incidents and protect their systems and data. Furthermore, financial institutions hire digital forensic specialists to investigate fraud and cyber-attacks and to protect their customers’ financial information. Finally, Digital Forensic laboratories, or Data Recovery services (public and private), hire digital forensic specialists to assist with the acquisition and analysis of digital evidence in criminal cases.
6) How can Digital forensic science courses become a unique and intriguing field, which if pursued in the right direction can shape up a good career path for a student both financially and professionally?
Digital Forensic studies focus on acquiring the right skills to enable the candidate to flourish in the field. A confident professional should have concrete knowledge of Computer Science topics (e.g., programming, filesystems, cyber security, cryptography, architecture, etc.) and - at the same time - be punctual, pedantic, organised, and open-minded. Digital Forensic professionals are genuinely interested in technology, they are self-motivated, and they can effectively work individually and as part of a team. They like to keep themselves updated with new technologies and novel methods and they sometimes need to be inventive. Therefore, any organisation that can offer updated knowledge and hands-on activities to enable active learning, will eventually manage to cultivate effective graduates. Graduates need to maintain a passion for polishing their analytical, social, and team-working skills to elevate their professional lives. Additionally, strategies such as seeking networking opportunities and finding appropriate mentors in the industry can enable good professional prospects for a digital forensics expert. Digital forensics courses that offer interaction with esteemed figures of the sector, cultivate a sense of community, and create opportunities for networking, offering at the same time high standards of hands-on training based on real world scenarios, and engagement in research-oriented teaching can eventually grow well-trained professionals that will maintain the right mentality on how to become a successful professional in Digital Forensics. Finally, a successful Digital Forensics expert is the one that recognises the importance of lifelong learning.
7) How Indian students can benefit from a course in Digital forensic science? What is its relevance in the new market?
Digital Forensics is a relatively young discipline which is relevant in the new market because of the growing demand for people who can actively assist in fighting cybercrime and securing digital ecosystems from cyber-attacks. Therefore, it is a discipline that has great potentials in job markets globally. Especially in emerging markets (such as the Indian), digital forensics science can see a remarkable bloom given the fact that the country is becoming an information technology hub. As discussed previously, there exist numerous different sectors where digital forensics specialists can work (from law enforcement to consultancy) therefore there are diverse job opportunities. Finally, if we consider that cyber security and digital forensics graduates usually acquire a variety of technical, analytical, social and communication skills, they can be valuable assets that can succeed in a range of industries.