Working in Digital Forensics

Working in Digital Forensics

Digital Forensics focuses on the retrieval of data from digital devices. This will usually take place in the interest of an investigation regarding computer crime. 

Digital Forensic Analysts will be responsible for finding, analysing and presenting this digital evidence if required in court for both civil and criminal investigations where necessary.

Qualifications

To work in this industry you must have gained a good solid understanding of computers and have the qualifications to back this up.

It would normally be expected that potential candidates have achieved a minimum of one degree, normally in an IT or computing subject. It is becoming more the case that this will be accompanies by an additional qualification in criminology or forensics.   

Degree entry for these areas usually requires A-Levels in Maths, IT and Science.

Skills and Knowledge

A strong background in IT or computing is essential to these roles. For this reason, it is not uncommon for Digital Forensic Analysts to have worked in IT previously and then specialise in Forensics later. Likewise, many police officers may choose to use their criminology expertise and specialise it later on.

The following skills are particularly relevant for Analysts:

  • Tracking mobile phone activities
  • Recovering deleted data from computers
  • Linking photographs with cameras and software
  • Testing for virus and hackers

It is vital that any potential candidates keep up to date with evolving technologies. Likewise, knowledge of commonly used software such as EnCase, Forensic Toolkit and Helix is beneficial. 

Typical work activities

Analysts will typically work on a 9:00 until 5:00 basis between Monday and Friday. However, it is not uncommon to work shifts and be on call during evenings, weekend and public holidays.

Although the role is heavily office-based, it is recommended that all digital forensic executives have a full clean driving licence as they may be required to travel to people’s home or place of work in order to remove digital equipment.

The daily activities of a person in Digital Forensics are can include but are not limited to:

  • Collecting and extracting evidence in the form of digital data
  • Producing reports for trials or other proceedings
  • Presenting complex technical information in a way that is accessible to others

Career and salary

Due to the sensitive and legal nature associated with data collection, applicants will need to undergo a security vetting check and will often be required to sign the Official Secrets Act.

In return, starting salaries are on average between £20,000 to £25,000 annually with more experienced Digital Forensic Analysts earning anything between £30,000 and £60,000.