Computer forensics is the process of investigating computer systems by collecting and analyzing computer-related evidence and data to determine their illegal or unauthorized involvement in crimes or frauds. This relatively new field is used by law enforcement, military, intelligence agencies, and businesses. Computer evidence processing protocols are scrupulously observed in the process, as the findings should be presented in a court of law.
Not merely confined to computer data recovery alone, computer forensics is a fast-growing investigative technique used by a forensic specialist for retrieving data that has been electronically stored or encrypted on digital media such as a personal or work computer. Law enforcement agencies use computer forensics to gather evidence about a suspect or known criminal. Computer forensics experts can detect rogue employees or contractors who are leaking critical information such as company plans or sensitive customer data.
Many computer forensics professionals learn the techniques on the job in law enforcement or computer security positions. But with the field expanding widely, employers are currently looking for candidates with certificate programs and formal education in computer forensics, which are available from many institutions. The formal education programs offer instructions on pertinent legal issues, computer skills, and forensic tools that they will need while working as computer forensics professionals.
They should have extensive knowledge of computer systems and programs and the ability to retrieve information from them. Often, they are required to retrieve data that has been deleted from the device. For this, the specialist makes use of particular computer forensics software and other tools.
As the specialist works with evidence involved in a criminal or civil case, he/she takes particular care to properly document all the work done to the computer and information found from it. No licensure requirements exist for practicing as a computer forensics specialist. However, voluntary credentials should be provided. These are called Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and the Certified Computer Examiner (CCE). Computer forensics consulting is also a fast-growing field.
Computer forensics has become an integral part of law enforcement agencies, defense forces, corporations, and large institutions as they all deal with computer offences.