A computer forensic investigator (also known as a forensic investigator, computer forensics analyst, or digital forensics examiner) spends the majority of their time collecting, reviewing, and testing digital data and computer evidence. Obtaining a computer forensics degree is a critical first step toward a career in this rapidly expanding field.
Local, state, global, and international law enforcement agencies, as well as private investigative companies, employ computer forensic investigators. The responsibilities of a computer forensics investigator can differ depending on one of these organisations they work for.
A bachelor’s degree in computer forensics, computer science, cybersecurity, criminal justice, or other similar fields is recommended for those interested in pursuing a career in the field of computer forensics. Certifications in computer forensics, such as those offered by the Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC), will help an applicant land a job in the industry. Obtaining more general cybersecurity certifications that aren’t unique to computer forensics may also help you find work.
5 steps to follow when pursuing a career in computer forensics
1. Make a plan: Being a computer forensics investigator is not a quick process. It’s best to map out a strategy for achieving your specific career objectives. For example, if you want to work in the government as a computer forensics analyst, you’ll need to know the exact criteria for that job. When it comes to the credentials of their applicants, private, non-government investigation companies are typically less strict. The first step is to decide whether you want to work for the government or the private sector.
2. Educate: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a bachelor’s degree in computer forensics, computer science, criminal justice, or a similar field is required for entry-level positions in computer forensics. With an associate degree and the required certifications, it might be possible to land an entry-level position as a computer forensics investigator.
3. Obtain certifications: Certain positions in the field of computer forensics would necessitate the acquisition of unique certifications. Even if certification isn’t needed, getting one (or several) will help you stand out from the crowd. Both private entities and government agencies recognise the Certified Computer Examiner (CCE) qualification. The Global Information Assurance Certification is another association that provides reputable computer forensics certifications (GIAC). The GIAC Certified Forensic Analyst (GCFA), GIAC Certified Forensic Examiner (GCFE), and GIAC Network Forensic Analyst are all GIAC certifications related to computer forensics (GNFA). Both private companies and government agencies, such as the National Security Agency, trust GIAC.
4. Apply: Now that you have the requisite degrees and certifications, it’s time to start looking for employment. Generally, government departments such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Security Agency, and the Central Intelligence Agency will post job vacancies on their websites’ careers pages. Local government departments with smaller budgets usually have lists on their websites as well. Traditional work posting sites such as Indeed, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor will help you find jobs in the private sector.
5. Continue to Learn: Working in a profession that is constantly evolving means that the learning process doesn’t end until you’ve accepted a role. It’s important to keep studying and improving your skills. Attending conferences like RSA and BlackHat are a perfect way to keep informed about new innovations. Don’t forget to keep up with the latest technical developments by subscribing to computer forensics and cybersecurity publications.
What is a computer forensics investigator?
The average law enforcement officer may not be technologically savvy. A computer forensics investigator can help with this. An investigation benefits from a computer forensics investigator’s extensive knowledge of computer systems and networks.
Investigators in computer forensics will need to know how to recover data from systems that have been compromised or destroyed, whether or not they have the password to access the data. The data on these systems, or the systems themselves, may have been deliberately or unintentionally tampered with in order to conceal anything. Encryption techniques and how to crack them should be well-known to computer forensic investigators.
The primary task of a computer forensics investigator is to locate and prepare digital evidence for use in court, trials, and criminal investigations.
Computer forensics investigator skills
As a computer forensics investigator, the skills required can vary greatly depending on the position.
Anyone interested in a career in computer forensics should have a basic understanding of the following:
- Networking: As with any role in cybersecurity, understanding computer networking and connectivity principles is important.
- Awareness of operating systems: Computer forensic investigators would need to be able to locate and retrieve data from a variety of operating systems, including but not limited to Windows, Linux, MacOS, Unix, and Android.
- Malware analysis: Computer forensic investigators are sometimes asked to analyse or reverse engineer malware. Although reverse engineering and malware detection are difficult to master, they are essential skills for anyone employed in computer forensics.
- Analytical skills are essential because a large part of a computer forensics investigator’s role is to examine digital data and facts.
- Cryptography: Data that needs to be processed is often encrypted. Encryption and decryption techniques should be familiar to computer forensics investigators.
What do computer forensics investigators do?
Investigators who specialise in computer forensics will frequently do whatever technical work is required to help with an investigation.
Consider a scenario in which a criminal perpetrator was apprehended by law enforcement for committing crimes on the internet. The suspect attempted to erase any evidence of illegal activity from his or her hard drive. In this case, the computer forensics investigator’s job will be and try to recover any relevant data that the perpetrator might have deleted. This procedure can be carried out with the help of advanced instruments and forensic techniques.
Through reviewing the metadata inside offenders’ online messages, computer forensic investigators may be able to help track them down. Ethical hacking strategies can help in this situation.
A computer forensic investigator’s job description can vary based on the needs of the investigation they’re working on. The two cases above are only two examples of possible positions for a computer forensics investigator in a case.
Job description for a computer forensics investigator
Employment descriptions in the field of computer forensics differ significantly depending on the recruiting firm and whether the position is in the government or the private sector.
While the details of the work can vary, here are a few things that are often mentioned on a job description for a computer forensics investigator.
- Collaborate with law enforcement to recover digital evidence both on the ground and in the lab.
- Examine digital evidence and report results to the relevant team members.
- Prepare digital and computer proof for court hearings.
- Conducting electronic proof interviews with victims and witnesses
- Law enforcement officers should be trained on what to look for when dealing with computer/digital evidence.
- Assist law enforcement with digital proof reliability.
- Collaborate with law enforcement to use online data to track down offenders.
- Analyze and decrypt digital data
Outlook for computer forensic investigators
Computer forensics is a relatively modern discipline. Computer forensics professions are likely to stick around and expand for the near future, as the use of technology continues to rise and offenders become more involved online.
Computer forensics investigators and analysts are needed by both private companies and government agencies such as the FBI, CIA, and NSA. The area of computer forensics is expected to expand by about 9% by 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
It’s understandable that some people are worried about finding a new profession because artificial intelligence (AI) is taking over many of the jobs that humans once had. There’s no reason to be concerned if this is a problem. According to WillRobotsTakeMyJob.com, jobs in computer forensics are highly unlikely to be automated anytime soon.
Computer forensics investigator salary
A career as a computer forensic investigator will not only add excitement to your life, but it will also add excitement to your bank account due to its high earning potential.
A computer forensics investigator’s average salary is $95,510, but it’s important to remember that wages differ depending on location and skill set. Individuals with advanced degrees and certifications can earn up to $153,090 per year. An entry-level position as a computer forensics analyst would pay about $58,762 per year.
Using APIs for Better Cyber Security
What is an API?
What is an API? – For the general users of the internet and computer interface, it is normally understood that the screens, keyboards, monitors, etc. are the only computer interfaces in front of them. These are the visible computer interfaces with which we interact with the machine and the internet. There is another type of interface that we come across every day, but is hidden from our view. These interfaces enable software components to interact with each other. For a long time, this process was not standardized and developers of the operating system Unix made protocols for interprocess communication (IPC).
By the early 2000s, the need for a standard, open software-to-software interface was felt by the technology industry. This led to the development of the application programming interface, commonly known as API. API’s could provide a standardized interface through which software could communicate amongst themselves by sharing data and managing shared memory. APIs made software services available to workloads and applications. They facilitate bidirectional communication between two processes. An API includes all information needed to carry out a task and, unlike a web form, an API does not need multiple user transactions to successfully complete a process.
Cyber security and API
API security encapsulates integrity protection of the APIs you use or own. API’s are used by microservices and containers to communicate among themselves. With the development of API’s, we find ways to connect everyday things to smart devices, like a refrigerator with an android smartphone. As integration of computers increases, interconnectivity becomes more important, and so do APIs and their security. With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) applications, API security has become a growing concern.
Web scraping and APIs
Other than communicating within the software, an API is also used for providing access to the data of an application, web page, or operating system. Similarly, web scraping refers to the process of ‘scraping’ data from a webpage or multiple web pages.
Web scraping is used to extract data from a given web page, whereas an API provides the data directly. This poses a problem where the developer has not provided the API with the data. Sometimes APIs can be given at a charge, and that fee might not be affordable. In these scenarios, web scraping is necessary to obtain the data you need.Web scraping with software written in Python is one of the more common methods used to extract data from web pages.
Security threats with API
Some common threats associated with APIs are:
- Man in the Middle (MITM): An MITM attract refers to an attacker secretly intercepting communication between two APIs to obtain sensitive information. MITM attacks can grant access to personal financial and credential details to the attacker.
- API injections: API injection refers to the insertion of malicious code into vulnerable software. Malicious commands can also be inserted into an API message, like a SQL command. All web APIs that require parsers and processors are susceptible to API injections.
- Distributed denial of service (DDOS): DDoS attacks lead to the crashing of a website by flooding the bandwidth or resource of the attacked system. A DDoS attack topples the functioning of the memory and bandwidth by injecting a huge number of concurrent connections and sending/requesting huge amounts of data with every transaction. The machine resource will eventually crash under such pressure.
SOAP and REST API
SOAP and REST are the two most common approaches to implement APIs.
SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) is based on XML and used for communicating among computers. SOAP uses a built-in WS security standard that utilizes XML Encryption, XML Signature, and SAML tokens for messaging security considerations.
REST (Representational State Transfer) makes use of HTTP to get data and perform operations on remote computers. SSL authentication and HTTPS are used in REST for securing communication. It is easier to track and maintain all of these security protocols if you deploy to a centralized cloud deployment platform suited to creating and hosting APIs.
How to improve cyber security
A hacked API can cause a serious data breach. Owing to their vulnerability, it is important to take additional steps to ensure security.
- Using tokens: Assigning tokens to trusted identities and controlling access to data can protect your machine from malicious attacks.
- Authentication verifies the identity of the end-user. Authentication is implemented using the TLS protocol in REST APIs. OAuth 2 and OpenID are even more secure than the TLS protocol.
- Using an API gateway can secure your APIs. These gateways check the API traffic. A good gateway allows you to authenticate traffic. You can also control and analyze how your APIs are used.
- Using sniffers to detect vulnerabilities is a safe practice to secure your APIs. In addition, be updated about your API components and major leaks and threats.
- Authorizing what data a user can access from the API prevents malicious users from accessing data that is beyond their role. This keeps them away from being able to access admin functionality.
This article covered everything you need to know about API’s and cybersecurity. API security protects the integrity of APIs and is something that should be a concern for organizations and individuals with the evolution and constant development of IoT.
Konsentus Verify supports checking of UK-RTS compliant certificates
Konsentus today confirmed that its open banking third party provider (TPP) identity and regulatory checking solution, Konsentus Verify, can validate the identity of TPPs regardless of whether a UK-RTS compliant digital certificate or EEA issued eIDAS certificate is presented.
This follows OBIE’s recent announcement that UK-regulated TPPs must complete their migration from OBIE Legacy Certificates to UK-RTS compliant certificates (OBWACs/ OBSEALs) no later than 30 June 2021 by which time they must also have revoked any active OBIE Legacy Certificates.
From the end of June 2021, ASPSPs must reject the use of OBIE Legacy Certificates for PSD2 identification purposes ensuring they only accept certificates that are compliant with the UK-RTS.
Konsentus Verify provides TPP identity and regulatory checking services to protect Financial Institutions from the risk of open banking fraud. The identity checking element of the Konsentus solution is based on the validation of a TPP’s digital identity certificate.
Konsentus Verify checks in real-time a certificate’s validity and whether it has been issued by a trusted certificate issuer. In addition, Konsentus Verify checks the Payment Services a TPP is authorised to provide by its home country National Competent Authority.
However, digital identity certificates are not usually updated over a certificate’s lifespan and do not list the roles a TPP can perform outside the TPP’s home country. Any ‘Passporting’ information must be obtained for each country the TPP wants to provide services into.
Any EEA TPP wanting to access accounts held by a UK-based ASPSP must either be on the FCA’s Temporary Permissions Regime list or registered directly with the FCA. Konsentus Verify validates in real-time the legitimacy and current authorisation status of TPPs providing payment services in the UK regardless of whether an eIDAS or UK-RTS compliant certificate is presented.
Mike Woods, CEO Konsentus commented, “With over 200 UK TPPs regulated to provide open banking services in the UK, we can offer our customers a single solution that means both UK-RTS compliant certificates and eIDAS certificates can be checked without having to introduce additional processes or delays. No matter where the transaction is taking place or where the TPP is located, we offer our customers a single solution providing identity and regulatory checking at the time of the transaction.”
The Hidden Challenges of Data Retention
Companies are drowning in enterprise data. While such data can serve as a conduit to innovation, it can also be a liability.
Having the right data retention policies in place not only protects data from unauthorized access or other malfeasances, it also ensures data is primed for business usage. Furthermore, recent regulations such as GDPR mandate the creation of a data retention policy to prove data is properly managed and utilized throughout its entire lifecycle, but especially at the very end.
While many organizations excel at saving data, few have mastered data disposal.
According to a 2020 Deloitte survey, while 80% of companies surveyed have a defined data retention policy in place:
“only one out of three respondents provided data to the business process owners for final disposition. Data is seldom reclassified or anonymised per current practices. Organisations may not be aware of techniques to use anonymised/pseudonymised data in an effective manner. Only 30 percent of the organisations were adopting automated erasure techniques for data on completion of the retention period.”
Furthermore, the report found that an alarming number of companies relied on ineffective data deletion and drive/device formatting methods that can leave sensitive data unprotected. In fact, more than 15% of second-hand drives purchased from an online retailer contained leftover data from the previous users.
GDPR and like-minded regulations also require proof of data disposal in the event of a consumer complaint. However, this too has been woefully overlooked as only 32% of companies “are prepared for and may have conducted audits of processing activities with respect to end-of-life of personal data.”
It is clear that CISOs need to become involved with the data retention process. Though policy decisions can be left to chief data and privacy officers, CISOs are increasingly being compelled to oversee the execution of data retention strategy, especially when it comes to the logging and verification of data disposal.
Data Lake Security & Governance
Over the past decade, data lakes have surged in popularity amongst data scientists looking to experiment with advanced analytics. However, if not properly maintained, data swaps can easily devolve into data swamps whereby the system is flooded with irrelevant, unusable data.
Such an environment poses a number of data security and privacy risks. To start with, data that can’t be found can’t be disposed of or retrieved in response to subject access requests.
Secondly, even well governed data lakes are vulnerable to false data injection and malware obfuscation as datasets are not segmented by clear boundaries. As a result, someone with access to a particular file object can modify it, and there is no trail or history of what was modified.
CISOs, CDOs and CPOs must work together to create security-first data governance frameworks for data lakes to protect the business, it’s customers and it’s most valuable strategic data assets. Such a plan should also address:
- Data access control
- Data protection (encryption)
- Data lake usage audit
- Data leak prevention
- Data lineage documentation
In the event the business opts to “drain the data swamp” it’s critical for the CISO to play an active role in determining what data to keep and how to dispose of unusable or corrupted data in the securest way possible.
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