What Is a Computer Forensics Analyst?

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  • Written By: Melissa Barrett
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 12 June 2019
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By strict interpretation, a computer forensics analyst works within the legal system to find, examine, and prepare evidence on computer devices for use in civil and criminal proceedings. In practice, however, this definition has been expanded to include those individuals who establish and test computer security protocols for private organizations. Government agencies specializing in intelligence and terrorism may also employ these professionals.

The development of digital forensic science parallels the advent and rise in popularity of computerized devices. Unfortunately, innovative technology often creates equally innovative criminals. Often, the job of a computer forensics analyst is to find out how devices such as cell phones and computers are being used to commit crimes. They can then use this information to find the criminals and stop them.

In a focused investigation, a computer forensics analyst may be called upon to work with a specific device. In many cases, his or her job is to recover evidence from a private computer. This may involve retrieving deleted files from a hard drive. In other instances, an analyst might need to hack into a system that is protected by a password or decipher encrypted information.

Ironically, a computer forensics analyst can become more adept at bypassing computer security systems than most criminal hackers. These individuals are heavily recruited by both the government and private sector organizations. Counterintelligence agencies often use these analysts to discover weaknesses within their computer information networks that could exploited.


The majority of counterterrorism initiatives also include addressing the potential of cyberterrorism attacks. As most transportation, utility, and financial institutions rely heavily on computers for daily operations, a terrorist attack aimed at these networks could be devastating. A highly trained and trusted computer forensics analyst may be employed by counterterrorism agencies specifically to attempt to bypass the security measures of those organizations that are vital to national infrastructure. Any vulnerabilities that are discovered can be remedied.

Private companies often hire computer forensics analysts to fight cyberterrorism on a smaller scale. In these cases, these businesses often wish to assure the privacy of proprietary information, such as the details of manufacturing operations and financial records. This need is magnified in those organizations that keep records of consumer credit card information.

Obviously, in-depth knowledge of computer hardware and programming is expected from a computer forensic analyst. As computer forensics is a relatively new field, there is no industry standard for educational requirements in hiring. Generally, a bachelor's degree in computer science is the minimum requirement of most private organizations. In some instances, law enforcement agencies will accept an associate's degree in the field. This acceptance is frequently contingent on the completion of further specialized police training.



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