In many ways the internet is like the Wild West; it’s a wide-open space with bad guys causing trouble and running afoul of the law. Because the internet is so vast and there are some bad characters out there, almost everybody is susceptible to fraud. But with a base knowledge of computer forensics, you can spot suspicious people and halt their questionable activities.
The term computer forensics stirs up thoughts of digital detectives and online investigators. And this isn’t that far off from the real thing. Computer forensics is the collection, analysis, and reporting of data much the way private investigators gather evidence for criminal cases. Instead of talking to victims, witnesses, and suspects, computer forensics specialists comb through data looking for evidence for cases in the tech world. If you think you’ve got the makings of a data-driven detective, there are some things you need to know:
Potential Phishing Scams
Phishing scams are simple yet effective ways for unauthorized persons to get ahold of your personal information. They tend to happen during transactions and digital correspondences like email. Say, for example, someone attempts to buy a valuable product, like a car. The buyer and the seller may connect via email, and the seller’s email address, signature, and other information may seem legitimate. But if they ask the buyer to transfer funds to a different account, one with a link that’s full of strange characters and a string of randomly placed letters and numbers, you’re probably getting scammed. Using computer forensics, you can determine the reliability of the account, whether viruses and malware were used, and the general location of the scammer.
Data Theft and Security Breaches
If you work for a large organization, such as a corporation, data theft and security breaches are a constant threat. Your computer forensics knowledge will help you prepare for and address issues related to data security. You should always have firewalls and recovery measures in place but sometimes the unexpected happens; say an employee is asked to leave a company, but the company suspects they’ve taken sensitive information. With your forensic experience, you can scrub the employee’s company computer to see if any files have been removed; you can also run audits to find out if the computer connected with third-party devices (for example, external hard drives, flash drives, mobile devices) which may now carry the sensitive information.
Online Bullying and Harassment
Not all computer forensics cases involve theft or security breaches. You may be called in to handle a case of online bullying and harassment. Executives and members of management are sometimes subject to repeated troublesome emails or text messages; the culprit may be a disgruntled employee or former staff member. Your investigation would require an examination of the email address or mobile number of the person sending hostile messages to see if there are any forgeries, and to review the IP address to zero in on a location or spot of origin for the messages.
As more organizations conduct business online, using social networks and the cloud to store and transfer data, there’s more risk as well. This means computer forensics is a valuable skill to have. If you want to get into this line of work, start your training at Career Quest Learning Centers in Lansing. The AAS in Network Administration is designed to prepare you for entry-level work in the field of IT. Fill out the form now to receive more information on our IT programs.