What Is Computer Forensics? Types, Techniques, and Careers

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Cyber crime is on the rise and jobs in computer forensics are in demand. Learn more about this field and how you can enter it with the following article.

[Featured image] A computer forensics employee stands at a workstation with a server unit behind them.

What is computer forensics?

Computer forensics, also called digital or cyber forensics, is a field of technology that uses investigation techniques to help identify, collect, and store evidence from an electronic device. Oftentimes computer forensics professionals uncover evidence that can be used by law enforcement agencies or by businesses and individuals to recover lost and damaged data. Read on to learn about the computer forensics types, techniques, career paths, and more.

Why is computer forensics important?

As the world becomes more connected digitally, digital evidence for solving crimes is becoming more relevant every day. A computer forensics investigator’s job is to collect, examine, and safeguard this evidence to help solve cyber crimes and to recover important compromised data.

Types of computer forensics

Computer forensics always involves gathering and analysing evidence from digital sources. Some common types include:

  • Database forensics: Retrieval and analysis of data or metadata found in databases

  • Email forensics: Retrieval and analysis of messages, contacts, calendars, and other information on an email platform

  • Mobile forensics: Retrieval and analysis of data like messages, photos, videos, audio files, and contacts from mobile devices

  • Memory forensics: Retrieval and analysis of data stored on a computer's RAM (random access memory) and/or cache

  • Network forensics: Use of tools to monitor network traffic like intrusion detection systems and firewalls

  • Malware forensics: Analysis of code to identify malicious programs like viruses, ransomware, or Trojan horses

Common computer forensics techniques

When conducting an investigation and analysis of evidence, computer forensics specialists use various techniques; here are four common ones:

  • Deleted file recovery. This technique involves recovering and restoring files or  fragments that are deleted by a person—either accidentally or deliberately—or by a virus or malware. 

  • Reverse-steganography. The process of attempting to hide data inside a digital message or file is called steganography. Reverse-steganography happens when computer forensic specialists look at the hashing of a message or the file contents. A hashing is a string of data, which changes when the message or file is interfered with. 

  • Cross-drive analysis. This technique involves analysing data across multiple computer drives. Strategies like correlation and cross-referencing are used to compare events from computer to computer and detect anomalies. 

  • Live analysis. This technique involves analysing a running computer's volatile data stored in RAM (random access memory) or cache memory. This helps pinpoint the cause of abnormal computer traffic. 

Is computer forensics a good career?

According to statistics from Symantec, India faces the second most number of targeted cyber attacks and third most threats worldwide [1]. This data suggests underlying demand for skilled cyber forensics professionals in India. The strong potential earnings also makes this field a potentially lucrative and satisfying career option. Learn more about career paths and salary potential in the following sections.

Computer forensics career paths

According to IBM Security, cyber crime is continually rising worldwide, resulting in global average total cost of data breaches to be ₹348,067,026 [2]. Consequently, jobs in computer forensics are more prevalent than ever. Here are examples of top positions in the field, education requirements, and typical salary ranges. 

Forensic computer analyst

Average annual salary (IN): ₹7,00,000 [3]   

A forensic analyst examines the scenes of cyber crimes and assists in investigations. To do this job, you'll need to thoroughly understand computer hardware and software, systems, databases, and programming languages.

Job duties:

  • Conducting digital surveillance

  • Identifying compromised data

  • Hacking patterns

  • Detecting hidden or encrypted data, and file recovery

Educational requirements: You'll generally need a minimum of a bachelor's degree in forensic computer science, cybersecurity, or criminal justice. Some jobs require a master's degree.

Information security analyst (or IT security analyst)

Average annual salaryc(IN): ₹6,01,295 [4

As an information security analyst, you'll protect computer networks and systems by planning and implementing security systems. 

Job duties: 

  • Installing and maintaining firewalls and encryption programs

  • Auditing and testing security software

  • Monitoring access to high-security data

  • Identifying cybersecurity threats

  • Investigating cybersecurity breaches

Educational requirements: You'll typically need a bachelor's degree in computer science, cybersecurity, computer programming, or a related field. Some jobs may require a master's degree in information systems.   

 Information security manager

Average annual salary (IN): ₹15,81,346 [5

Information security managers maintain security protocols for their organisations. They create strategies to increase network and internet security related to different projects.

Job duties:

  • Reviewing security policies and updating requirements

  • Performing checks to ensure data is safeguarded

  • Running programs across networks to verify the status of running applications 

Educational requirements:  You’ll typically need a bachelor's degree related to information technology. Previous systems security and networking administration experience is also beneficial, as are additional IT certifications. 

Additional job titles in the computer forensics field:

  • Mobile forensics expert

  • Cryptographer

  • Cryptanalyst

  • Cyber forensic expert

  • Digital forensic analyst

  • Computer crime investigator

How to get a job in computer forensics

Educational backgrounds vary from job to job in the computer forensics field. Most employers prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree. If you're transferring from a related career or you already have a degree, consider supplementing your academic credentials with a certificate or specialised training to increase your competitiveness as a job candidate.

Gain essential computer forensics skills

If you're interested in the computer forensics field, it helps to have certain technical and workplace skills. Technical skills are learned through school or training, and workplace skills involve how you work or relate to others. 

Examples of technical skills that can prepare you for a computer forensics role include:

  • Ability to understand mechanical processes, spatial awareness, numerical concepts, and data interpretation

  • Understanding of computer hardware and software

  • Knowledge of computer programming languages

  • Familiarity with law and criminal investigation

  • Understanding of cybersecurity fundamentals like cyber-attack forecasting, threat detection, and system and network protection 

  • Knowledge of cybersecurity standards

A few workplace or non-technical skills for computer forensics professionals to master include:

  • Ability to think analytically to organise, understand, and make conclusions about data efficiently 

  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills to explain complex information clearly and concisely

  • Attention to detail for thorough investigative processes

Certifications in computer forensics

Earning various certifications in the computer forensics field may be helpful for qualifying for jobs. Types of certifications in computer forensics include: 

  • Certified Forensic Computer Examiner (CFCE) ensures you have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to conduct computer forensics examinations. This certification is appropriate if you’re in security, IT, or law enforcement. 

  • GIAC Network Forensic Analyst (GNFA) validates that you have an understanding of the fundamentals of network forensics, abnormal and normal conditions for network protocols, and more. This certification is helpful for anyone interested in computer network intrusions, threat hunters, and law enforcement. 

  • Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI) is an expert-level cybersecurity certification that covers forensic investigation scenarios and ensures that you know how to identify an intruder’s footprints. The CHFI is meant for IT managers, law enforcement, and business security professionals. 

Getting started in computer forensics

Start building job-ready skills with the Google Cybersecurity Professional Certificate on Coursera. Get hands-on experience with industry tools and examine real-world case studies, all at your own pace. Upon completion, you’ll have a certificate for your resume and be prepared to explore job titles like security analyst, SOC (security operations center) analyst, and more.

The IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate covers compliance and threat intelligence principles, including network security, incident responses, and more. Learn from industry leaders at your own pace as you gain hands-on experience with tools like Wireshark, IBM QRadar, and IBM Guardium.  

Article sources


Incognito Forensic Foundation. “Top Cyber Forensics Courses in India - Prospects of a Career in Cyber Forensics, https://ifflab.org/career-in-cyber-forensics-courses-in-india/.” Accessed April 26, 2023.

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