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MAIN Arrow to TechnologyTechnology Arrow to Computer ForensicsComputer Forensics

investigating computer dataAs you might have already heard, computer forensics have become the new heroes of the information age — helping to catch evil-doers by digging for mysterious files hidden deep within their computer hard drives...

But what exactly is computer forensics?

One site gives the definition as, "...the use of analytical and investigative techniques to identify, collect, examine and preserve evidence/information which is magnetically stored or encoded."

In simple terms, it means looking at the data on a hard drive or other computer storage device, (especially files that have been deleted), and figuring out what the person who was using that computer was trying to do with it.

It's not as easy as it sounds. In order for data to be admissible in court you need to know and follow the strict computer forensics guidelines that experts in digital forensics have developed.

hard drive
With the proper tools and software, forensics
experts can retrieve deleted files, Web pages
visited, or a complete record of emails
as evidence in criminal trials.

Private cyber forensics consulting firms work with law enforcement as well as large and small companies. These cyber investigators can help track terrorists, stop traffic in child pornography, or discover the culprit who infects emails or web sites with malicious viruses, and help police solve other criminal investigations.

In the hands of a trained forensics expert, a computer can provide proof of fraud or harassment long after digital evidence was thought to have been deleted.

In the age of increased computer security, "detectives" in this field can also snag people in white collar crimes, such as industrial espionage — which can be a big problem if a corporation is about to launch a new product or marketing campaign.

In fact, a few large companies have even hired full-time computer forensics experts to fend off any possibility of digital theft or tampering.

Starting salaries in the field can range as high as $85,000-$100000 for experts graduating from a recognized program in a degree granting college, or have passed the Certified Computer Examiner (CCE) certification examination or have equivalent qualifications.

More about computer forensics around the Web:

e-Evidence Info - The Electronic Evidence Information Center
- Portal offering a comprehensive set of resources on digital forensics including a good bibliography, links to info on past conferences and a long list of labs and schools offering course work in the USA and international. There's also a section on Cyber Criminals Most Wanted...

Computer Forensics World - Online gathering place for computer forensics pros and students with active forums, links and other helpful resources.

Computer Forensics Companies - USA focused index of companies that provide cyber forensics services. The index can be accessed either by an alpha listing of all companies or on a state by state basis.

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