What Are Digital Forensics in Cybersecurity?
If you’ve been paying attention to the news lately, you’ve probably heard about the major role digital forensics experts in cybersecurity play to prevent and solve hacking attacks on major industries. In May 2021 the Colonial Pipeline, the country’s largest gasoline pipeline that runs from Texas to New York, was knocked offline by a cyberattack. This quickly led to panic buying and gas shortages along the East Coast and in the South. Prices soared. And the company paid almost $5 million in ransom to get their system running again. In the wake of the attack, digital forensics experts were called in to find out what happened, how it happened, and who might be responsible for it.
What Does a Digital Forensics Professional Do?
Professionals in digital forensics in cybersecurity collect, process, preserve, and analyze evidence that can be found on computers, smartphones, or networks. Their expertise and knowhow help prevent and solve cybercrime.
Digital forensic professionals frequently test their systems to identify vulnerabilities, and then suggest ways to mitigate any weaknesses. As a Digital Forensics Analyst, you would also use advanced threat intelligence techniques to identify criminals who might try to break into a network to steal information or stop it from functioning.
All the major social media companies, banks, the military, law enforcement, and state and local government need people with digital forensic skills. This requires specialized training in a college-level program plus on-the-job experience.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Digital Forensics industry is predicted to grow much faster than average. Demand is high and so is pay, with salaries for a forensic computer analyst ranging from $72,000 to $116,000 per year. Working in digital forensics, you can do well, earn well, and make a real difference in people’s lives, both in the U.S. and around the world.
Here are five main areas of focus for today’s Digital Forensics professionals:
Where Digital Forensics in Cybersecurity Is Used
- Solve Crimes: Digital forensics is used in both criminal and private investigations. Experts use facial recognition technology, artificial intelligence and other methods to trace bank deposits worldwide, review credit card transactions, and look for offshore tax havens and anonymous shell companies.
- Prevent Terrorist Attacks: Digital forensics professionals are critical players in homeland security. At the state and federal level, you would constantly monitor encrypted emails from suspected terrorists, both at home and abroad. You would also look for any signs that terrorist attacks are being planned and take immediate action to notify authorities to prevent them.
- Provide Computer Network Security: Businesses, government entities, and nonprofits need to protect their data from online intrusions that could result in the theft of confidential data or the shutdown of an entire computer network. As a digital forensic expert, you would identify the cause of data breaches and cyberattacks and also recover or identify any sensitive data or personally identifiable information that was lost or stolen.
- Detect and Prevent Data Loss: Cybersecurity and digital forensics engineers deploy security applications, such as malware detection, on servers and personal computers. In this role, you would need to make sure the system stays up to date and install and maintain special software for permissions and logins.
- Stop Online Child Predators: Child predators frequently use social media and other online sources to lure children for sexual encounters. Criminals also use the internet to recruit teenagers into prostitution. Digital forensics is used to locate these criminals and then bring them to justice.
At National American University, we offer an online Cybersecurity and Forensics Emphasis IT Bachelor’s Degree that will help prepare you for a rewarding career. Do you already have some experience or a certificate in a criminal justice, military, or information technology field? You may be able to transfer those credits to your degree program so you can save both time and money. Call 800-209-0182 to speak to a counselor today or click learn more.