Mention crime and we think of robberies, murders and detectives examining the crime scene, interrogating witnesses and finally nailing the guilty.
But there is, however, another kind of crime, where traditional methods of criminal investigation fall flat on its face. Instances like hacking, cyber fraud, phishing, identity and data theft, all account as cyber crime. Cyber crime can be defined as an illegal electronic operation that target the security of computer systems and data processed by them. Even though it may appear that the effects of cyber crime are not life threatening, they have the potential to disrupt life. A survey in UK inferred that people were more scared of their bank accounts being hacked or credit card details stolen over the internet, than they were of robberies. There have been numerous cases, wherein people have been vulnerable to cyber crime in one way or the other. Crime can never be eradicated, but it can be prevented with the help of effective security to information. Whenever cyber crimes are committed, cyber forensic experts enter the scene and try to sniff out the clues and help in catching the culprits.
Skills and Tools
A cyber forensic expert is supposed to be adept in network security because most cyber crimes take place over networks. They should be competent in data recovery and encryption, because data and passwords are the targets of information theft. The experts should also be aware of cyber laws as most of the cases can got to court, where the forensic expert would be calles either as a witness or an examiner. A cyber forensics expert need not necessarily have to deal with computers all the time. Depending on the nature of cases and crime committed, the experts have to work on mobile phones, PDA's, USB drives, media players, etc.
When it comes to corporate houses, they don't really tend to trust the cops. They guard their systems and data by hiring the services of experts in information securities, such as Agape Inc. Also the process of collecting evidence after a cyber crime has been committed is not a cakewalk. Lot of care needs to be taken while collecting the evidence and processing them, as the loss of even an electron of information could mean that the data would not stand up to legal scrutiny. Of course, the job of forensic experts is very difficult, but they are assisted by some tools which help in processing the data quickly. The cyber forensic tools are software packages that can be used to preserve the state of storage devices or extract data from them. These softwares fall in 3 categories:
1. Open source software
2. Proprietary software
3. Tailor-made software for specific needs, designed by companies.
Courses and Career Path
The field of cyber forensics is still evolving and there is a lot of confusion on the part of students who are interested in pursuing this as a career option. To be good in this field, one needs to master various disciplines.Not only should they be experts in examining an evidence, they should also know the legal procedures of presenting the evidence in the court. For example, a cyber forensic expert would work on computer networks as well as network security. This means that network security certifications from renowned institutes/companies are essential for the candidate, to provide a good starting point.
A career in cyber forensics can be sought both in public and private sector. In the public sector, people are mostly absorbed into law enforcement agencies, state forensic departments and central agencies. In private sector, the scope for cyber forensic experts is immense as many experts would be required to detect and solve the increasing cyber crimes. Also, after sufficient experience, professionals can divert into freelancing and become independent security consultants.
Thus the job of a cyber forensic expert is a mixture of a cop and a geek, which is challenging and interesting, for committed professionals.