Every keystroke tells a story, and when that story involves criminal behavior, fraud, or other actions that could damage individuals, corporations or governments, digital detectives step in to analyze, decipher and decode the evidence. The rapidly-growing field of computer forensics has fueled demand for highly-trained experts to fill computer forensics jobs both here in the United States and abroad, creating opportunities for those who are looking to blend their tech-savvy skill set with the excitement of being a cyber-sleuth.
The Growing Field of Computer Forensics
Computer forensics experts work to unlock evidence contained on digital devices, such as computers, smartphones and tablets. Computer forensics jobs can involve searching for, and examining, material that could be used in cases involving the following:
- Corporate espionage
- Child pornography
- Financial crimes
- Disclosure of trade secrets
- Child pornography and exploitation
High-Profile Cases Growing
As widespread adaptation of digital devices continues, the number of high-profile criminal and civil cases involving computer forensics continues to increase. Most recently, the U.S. Department of Justice launched, then subsequently withdrew, a lawsuit against Apple demanding access to the encrypted iPhone owned by Syed Farook, one of two terrorists who killed 14 civilians in San Bernardino, California in December, 2015.
While the details of how the iPhone was finally unlocked remain classified, what we do know is that the FBI employed an army of computer forensics experts to access the information it contained. According to FBI Director James Comey, the cost for hacking the device exceeded $1.3 million USD.
Another notorious case that relied heavily on digital evidence extracted by computer forensics technicians is the high-profile child pornography conviction of Jared Fogle, formerly known as the face of Subway Restaurants. To secure a conviction against Fogle, law enforcement officials enlisted the help of a team of experts to track and document Fogle’s digital trail, collecting enough evidence to put the pitchman away for 14 years.
Not all computer forensics jobs involve violent crimes; many companies are now developing their own in-house teams of digital detectives to guard against hackers, theft of trade secrets, and international cyber crimes.
Where to Find Computer Forensics Jobs
Computer forensics jobs can be found in both the public and private sector, in organizations ranging from small boot-strapped startups to multinational corporations and federal government departments. While the qualifications for each position varies between employers, those who are interested in a career in computer forensics should pursue certification in the field.
Industry-watchers predict that demand for digital forensics services will grow exponentially in the next decade, creating thousands of new computer forensics jobs. IBISWorld, a market research firm that focuses on tech sectors, says “the U.S. digital forensics industry is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 6.7% over the next five years, from $1.2 billion in revenues today to $1.7 billion by 2019″.