How to Get into Cyber Forensics: Resources
Cybercrime is at an all-time high – and the methods and tools used to carry out these crimes are evolving. These steady increases in digital misfortune have required organizations to find the right people to discover the what, when, and where of these breaches as well as who carried them out.
The "right people" that these organizations have hired are digital forensics professionals who know where to find key evidence so that organizations know what data was affected, where the threat actor entered their network, and hopefully, who the actor was.
Why to Pursue a Career in Digital Forensics
The need for digital forensics professionals is more prevalent due to the rise in cybercrime. Currently, the job market is in need of individuals who have the skills to examine systems to determine how, what, and when adverse acts occurred.
That being said, a career in digital forensics, as it currently stands, will provide great job security, a healthy salary, and a sense of satisfaction if you are someone who enjoys solving complex issues or discovering the root cause of a malicious act or breach.
Job security. This is one of the most important things most people look for when considering a profession The question of "Will this skill set be needed in the future?" is easily answered by saying, yes. We do not foresee the need for digital forensics professionals diminishing — at least anytime soon.
As mentioned previously, breaches and other forms of cybercrime are constantly rising. With these events, the need for individuals with a digital forensic skill set rises as well.
Solid compensation. Professionals in the digital forensics field are compensated well. Statistically speaking, someone entering the field can expect anywhere from 65,000 USD per year to about 75,000 USD per year.
These numbers rise significantly at the two-year mark to approximately between 105,000 USD to 120,000 USD per year depending on the market you are in. However, experience and observation have proven that a private sector job will compensate much more than the government-level salary.
Satisfying work. Lastly, there is the fact that a career in digital forensics will provide you a high sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, especially if you are someone who enjoys solving complex puzzles or situations.
I can honestly say that, from my experience, there are rarely two scenarios that are the same. The goal of the bad actor and the outcome of the breach may be very similar, but the actions taken to achieve those results have always been different. With that, you can be sure to expect a very diverse workload along with a great sense of accomplishment once you complete the puzzle.
What You Need to Know in Digital Forensics
There are multiple factors that come into play when attempting to get a job as a digital forensics professional. Primarily, these factors include knowledge, skills, and experience. I will elaborate on some great resources to obtain the knowledge and skills required to help you stand out in a job search.
However, one of the more problematic areas of landing that first job is the experience issue, which I will cover in-depth within a separate article because honestly, there are multiple approaches to it.
Finding the Right Digital Forensics Resources
We now know what factors come into play to enter the field of digital forensics, so let's go into a little more detail. Early on, I found myself reading material that covered the exact same information as a previous source. This is what I seek to alleviate, so that you don't have to go through the same frustrations that I did.
The resources that I am going to cover include books, blogs, and videos and webinars that will help expedite the learning process – and hopefully reduce the amount of time covering the same information.
It's common to invest a lot of money on textbooks that cover the same information. To help you avoid this, here are book recommendations that cover digital forensics — without overlapping each other too much. I recommend reading these books in order because they build off each other quite well.
- The Basics of Digital Forensics, 2nd Edition, by John Sammons
- Practical Digital Forensics, by Richard Boddington
- Digital Forensics Workbook, by Michael K. Robinson
- Digital Forensics and Incident Response, by Gerard Johansen
- File System Forensic Analysis, by Brian Carrier
- The Art of Memory Forensics, by Michael Hale Ligh, Andrew Case, Jamie Levy, and Aaron Walters.
Once you have a solid understanding of digital forensics concepts, processes, and workflows, blogs can be an excellent resource. They can provide examples of practical application to real-world situations. Here are my blog recommendations:
- SANS Digital Forensics and Incident Response Blog
- Forensics Focus
- Reddit – Forensics (Technically, this isn't a blog, but it's still a great digital forensics resource.)
Everyone retains information differently, so the following resources may be more valuable to some. Here's a list of video resources that I have found to beneficial:
- Cqureacademy.com (Provides crash courses on various aspects of Digital Forensics and security.)
- YouTube.com (as with any other skills, YouTube provides a large variety of videos that cover various aspects of Digital Forensics)
Finally, an additional source of digital forensics information is webinars. Although they can be hard to come by at times, here are a few places that host webinars, andl allow you to watch previous ones as well.
- Digitalforensics.com (There is a section at the top of the website directly labeled "Webinars")
- Patctech.com (Also has a direct section on the top of the website directly related to webinars. These come bundled and cost anywhere from $99 to $350 USD, but from my experience with them, these are well worth it.)
- Blackbagtech.com (Go to their "Training" section and select "Webinars". You have to register with the website in order to view the webinars.)
I hope that the information that was provided here was helpful. If you are curious about the specifics of getting the experience to help land that first forensics job, please take a look at my second article labeled "Gaining the Experience Needed For Your First Digital Forensics Job".