Computer forensics is an exciting specialization for a private investigator. As more and more crimes are committed using the computer, you can just imagine the increase in the need for a private investigator who can handle these cases.
In the fiscal year of 2005 alone, the FBI has already handled over 9,500 cases related to computer forensics. That’s more than double the number of cases recorded in 2000. Imagine the number of cases you will be handling in your private practice. Interested in this career? Here are some tips on how to become a private investigator specializing in computer forensics:
Have the right education.
Computer forensics is not just a simple cut-and-paste job involving basic computing skills. Your job is not only to recover and secure computer data, but also to examine them. You’ll need to know the right lingo for this. Otherwise, when you’re faced with a well hidden or encrypted file, you’ll be stumped.
You need computer smarts for this type of job. A good background in computers or information technology (IT) is a good start. You can also obtain a certification as CCE or Computer Examiner or go further as a CFCE or Certified Forensic Computer Examiner. Another certification that will also be a good stepping stone is the CEECS or Certified Evidence Collection Specialist.
You will also need the right training in order to know how to handle your computer evidence. Unprotected evidence or those that have been compromised as a result of haphazard methods of computer forensics will often be rejected by the courts.
Have the right equipment.
Other than know-how, you’ll need a good set of computers to work as a private investigator-cum-computer forensic expert. You’ll also need the right software. These programs are designed to recover deleted, damaged or encrypted files and make your job a lot easier and faster.
Obtain a license.
A private investigator job will require a license in majority of the states in the U.S. If you’re a computer forensic expert and want to turn your skills to detective work, your state will probably require you to obtain a P.I. license. Check your local state law. An unlicensed investigator could get fined or even imprisoned for practicing.
Know the legalities.
As a private investigator specializing in computer forensics, expect to be handling sensitive and highly confidential data. Not every deleted or encrypted file you retrieve can be used as evidence. Although a background in Law is not required, you should at least know how the legal system covers for the type of evidence you will be retrieving. Otherwise, what you may be doing will be useless or even illegal.