Over the past few years, computer forensics has become a professional field, but most well-trained experts in this area are self-taught. However, they need education and training to become a computer forensics professional. Law enforcement, private investigators, attorneys, and network administrators rely on these professional forensics specialists to investigate the civil and criminal cases.
What Are the Best Sources of Training for Computer Forensics?
Computer Forensic Degree Education
Computer forensics degree education is a rapidly growing and competitive field that helps aspirants gain the knowledge and skills needed to investigate computer crimes and to gain employment in digital forensic field. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment growth for forensic science experts will be 27% from 2014 to 2024, and this percentage is much faster than any other profession.
Many institutions provide certification in computer forensics as well as bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. Some investigators begin their careers in law enforcement or intelligence agencies and at later stages they feel a dire need of computer forensics skills.
The forensic analyst must have an ample knowledge of computer hardware, different operating systems and their file systems, programming languages, and various other applications and utility programs.
Bachelor and Master’s Degrees
The master’s degree in computer forensics is offered as a two-year program with 72 credit hours more or less, depending on the College/University program. The time frame can also vary among different institutions.
Many aspirants seek a four-year bachelor’s degree in computer forensics, also referred to as a bachelor of science in computer information systems. This degree provides the necessary skills to collect and examine the digital evidence.
The subjects covered in computer forensics involve:
Criminal Scene Investigation
Database Management Systems
Computer Information Systems
InfoSec Institute is one of the best institutions that provide computer forensics training both online and in person, with pass rates of 94.7% and 92% respectively. Moreover, InfoSec has secured 42 industry awards during 17 years of existence. The institution not only teaches the technical points of computer forensics but also instructs its organizational and legal aspects. InfoSec Institute offers a uniquely designed Authorized Computer Forensics Boot Camp Course for the students of CCFP and CCFE examinations. After completing this course, the student will be able to compile forensic reports for the use of court and organization.
Some other popular colleges/universities that offer degrees in computer forensics are:
Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
Champlain College, Burlington, VT
Cuny John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York
University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD
University of Baltimore, MD
California State University
The University of Alabama, Birmingham
Pace University, New York City
What Are the Best Entry-Level Books on Computer Forensics?
A Guide to Basic Computer Forensics by Tom Cloward and Frank Simorjay. This guide is made up of two sub-guides, namely, The Fundamental of Computer Investigations Guide for Windows, and The Malware Removal Starter Kit. Beginners can use this guide to build a PE environment for bootable Windows. In this way, an effective forensic examination can be conducted to preserve the evidence for analysis and reporting purposes. This guide covers the following topics.
The Windows PE CD-ROM
The external USB drive
Checking for malware
Running an investigation
Saving critical files
Gathering additional information
The Basics of Digital Forensics: The Primer for Getting Started in Digital Forensics by John Sammons, who teaches digital forensics as an assistant professor at Marshall University. The audience for this book includes entry-level digital forensic professionals and other experts in the relevant fields, such as information security, legal, and law enforcement. Also, Sammons is a member of the FBI’s WV Cybercrime Task Force. The book covers the basics of digital forensics and its associated fields and instructs how to conduct the investigation by discussing the important concepts of digital forensics, such as:
What methodologies are used?
Addressing technical points
How to collect digital evidence?
How to recover deleted data?
What tools are used to perform the investigation?
The role of the Internet, GPS, cloud, network, Mobile Devices, and computers are briefly discussed.
This book does not focus on powered-on devices (e.g., digital devices and computers that are running).
Guide to Computer Forensics and Investigations, Third Edition, by Amelia Phillips, Bill Nelson, and Christopher Stuart. The introduction to this book reveals that it is not intended to offer advanced education and training in digital forensics. However, it does provide a solid foundation to beginners by introducing the basics of this subject. In fact, more initial training for the new generation of forensics experts is the need of the hour, because computer hardware, software tools, and operating Systems are changing rapidly. The book covers the following topics:
Computer Forensics and Investigation as a Profession
Understanding Computer Investigation
The Office and Laboratory of Investigators
Processing Incident Scenes and Crime
Working with DOS systems and Windows
Current Forensic Tools
Linux and Macintosh File Systems and Boot Processes
Computer Forensics Validation and Analysis
Revering Graphic Files
Live Acquisitions, Network Forensics, and Virtual Machines
Cell Phone Forensics
Ethics for the Expert Witness
This book helps students to become certified forensics experts. The author uses colloquial language that is appropriate for all categories of students.
What Are the Best Books for Computer Forensics Practitioners?
A computer forensics practitioner, also referred to as a forensic science technician or crime scene investigator, examines evidence and gives testimony during a criminal trial. The minimum requirement for the forensic practitioner is a bachelor’s degree that must be accredited by the forensic science education programs accreditation commission (www.aafs.org). However, advanced certification and degrees are recommended. Furthermore, there are some best books for forensics practitioners recommend by the experts.
Forensic Computing: A Practitioner’s Guide by Tony Sames and Brian Jenkinson. This book teaches practitioners how information is stored on the computers and how it can be recovered, especially when it is subverted or hidden by the perpetrators. The book also illustrates the topic with a good number of worked examples and case studies and will help practitioners gain a clear understanding of the technical aspects, including:
The procedures involved in data encryption and password protection
The evaluation principles used in deceiving the internal security of the system
Full seizure and search protocols for police officers and experts
Windows Forensics Analysis Toolkit, Third Edition includes Advanced Analysis Methodologies for Windows 7—Harlan Carvey. This book teaches live and postmortem response analysis and acquisition techniques for the Windows 7 OS. The immediate response helps practitioners to avert the loss of useful information. The book consists of eight chapters discussing the concepts, including:
Volume Shadow Copies (VSCs) for Digital Forensics
Data Acquisitions in VSCs without purchasing expensive solutions and interacting with live system
Data and File Structures
File Systems Forensics Analysis by Brian Carrier: Data Acquisition from computer memory requires a strong understanding of its file systems. Brain Carrier wrote this book for forensic practitioners and other experts to understand how file systems analysis can be performed. The book also contains illustrated and comprehensive overview of file systems that include:
The discovery of hidden evidence
The recovery of deleted data
The validation of tools
Describing data structures
Analyzing GPT, Apple, and DOS partitions
Investigating the content of multiple disk volumes such as disk spanning and RAID
Analyzing UFS2, UFS1, NTFS, FAT, Ext2, and Ext3 file systems
Providing advanced investigations techniques
X-Ways Forensic Practitioner’s Guide by Brett Shavers and Eric Zimmerman: The author provided a full reference guide for the use of the most powerful forensics application, namely, “X-Ways Forensics.” This tool is widely used by private forensic investigators and law enforcement agencies. The guide includes everything about this tool, such as:
Installation of the tool and its important components
Real-life examples of criminal cases and their analysis using this tool
Documenting and reporting
Preview and triage methods
Cool X-Ways apps and electronic discovery
Computer Forensics Training
Computer Forensics Boot Camp Course
Did you find this article attention-grabbing? Are you struggling in preparing for the Certified Cyber Forensics Professional (CCFP) examination? As mentioned, InfoSec Institute offers a uniquely designed Authorized Computer Forensics Boot Camp Course for students of the CCFE and CCFP examinations.