What Is a Computer Forensics Consultant?

Brandi L. Brown
Brandi L. Brown
Computer forensic analysts may work to extract data from USB drives.
Computer forensic analysts may work to extract data from USB drives.

A computer forensics consultant is someone who examines computer-related crime issues and then participates in legal proceedings to share his or her findings. Forensics involves using science to investigate crimes, and many computer forensics consultants spend a good portion of their work life in court, though that is not true for everyone in the field. Instead, a computer forensics consultant may have a wide-ranging list of responsibilities, including recovering damaged data, tracking information passed over networks and analyzing security gaps in private systems.

Using a design program to make counterfeit money is just one computer crime that may call for a computer forensics consultant.
Using a design program to make counterfeit money is just one computer crime that may call for a computer forensics consultant.

Recovering damaged data makes up the bulk of the computer forensics consultant’s work. Hard drives damaged in fires or liquid spills need careful attention to recover any data that is still on them. Forensic analysts also may work on cell phones, portable storage drives and other computer-related equipment to try to find any information still available. Private companies use computer consultants for this work because of the potential financial loss stemming from missing records, but government agencies also often need this work completed to track and prosecute crimes.

A computer forensics consultant can analyze and recover data from a computer's hard drive.
A computer forensics consultant can analyze and recover data from a computer's hard drive.

As information passes over the Internet or even through a single machine, electronic records left behind create a trail of transactions and moves. People who are committing crimes often go to great lengths to keep others from finding the information relevant to their computer maneuvers. Forensic analysts work to recover lost electronic records and find out how to track computer usage. This information is useful primarily in a court setting, where the computer forensics consultant tries to demonstrate through his or her testimony that the person on trial did or did not commit the crime in question.

Recovering damaged data makes up the bulk of a computer forensics consultant's work.
Recovering damaged data makes up the bulk of a computer forensics consultant's work.

All systems have security gaps, and these gaps keep computer forensic consultants in business. Private-sector consultants work to find security problems to help their clients. Those clients will pay money to consultants to find any backdoor holes in firewalls and other likely security lapses. To some degree, computer consultants who work in this field get paid to hack into other systems. The idea is that hiring someone to find these problems so they can be repaired will prevent someone with malicious intent from finding the problems and doing damage.

From a public perspective, the role of a computer forensics consultant is to use knowledge about the Internet and computers in general to find the people who committed crimes. Forensics analysts typically have a bachelor’s degree and professional certifications in information security. While computer forensics consultants may face tedious days of work, they also do work that often benefits the public.

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    • Computer forensic analysts may work to extract data from USB drives.
      By: Debs (ò‿ó)♪
      Computer forensic analysts may work to extract data from USB drives.
    • Using a design program to make counterfeit money is just one computer crime that may call for a computer forensics consultant.
      By: Africa Studio
      Using a design program to make counterfeit money is just one computer crime that may call for a computer forensics consultant.
    • A computer forensics consultant can analyze and recover data from a computer's hard drive.
      By: merydolla
      A computer forensics consultant can analyze and recover data from a computer's hard drive.
    • Recovering damaged data makes up the bulk of a computer forensics consultant's work.
      By: Yeko Photo Studio
      Recovering damaged data makes up the bulk of a computer forensics consultant's work.