Thursday, February 12, 2009

Considering a Career in Computer Forensics?

Like many of my cohorts in this industry, I read the forums over at Forensic Focus and Computer Forensics World.

There are a lot of people who post about wanting to get into the field of computer forensics.  People who are just interested in the field, soon to be graduates of the many new computer forensic degree programs, or IT folks thinking about a career change.

And there are many people who post about whether or not computer forensics is the right career choice for them.

The typical response on the forums is, "If you have a passion for technology and love to learn new things, then this might be the right field for you."

While having a passion for technology and getting down in the details of computer data and file systems is definitely a pre-requisite for this type of field.  There are some things that anyone who is considering this as a vocation should contemplate before deciding if this is the right career path.

While computer forensics is a technology centric field, it is also a people centric field.

There is an old axiom; "If you really want to know someone, live with them for a while."

Here is a new axiom for today's electronic age; "If you really want to know someone, do the forensics analysis on their computer."

Before I continue, I need to emphasize that I love this field of work.  I choose to do this not for the technology part, but because I think I can make a difference for people by doing forensics work.

Don't get me wrong, I am a geek that loves technology and the challenge of continuously learning just to stay abreast of the current advances in storage and operation systems, etc.  But the technology is really a small part of the job, once you begin to see what an examiner sees.

And this is especially true when you think about what the impact of your work has on the people involved in cases.  And the impact it can have on you.

When you examine someone's computer, you are looking into their lives in a very intimate way.  Nothing is really hidden from you.

Depending on the type of cases you take on, you will see and read things that can have a real emotional impact on you.

When you start looking though someone's email or their internet history or their chat logs, their personal notes and documents, even their choices of music and entertainment, you will begin to get to know that person in ways many others will not.

You will become a  party to their secrets.  Secrets that you cannot talk about, since that will violate confidentiality.  So you will get to carry those secrets, whether you want to or not.

And then you may have to interact with that person with a demeanor that reveals nothing about what you have learned about that person.  Because that person might be your client.

To be continued...

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