Cyber Forensics

“They hack into computers and they cause this chaos” was one of the more memorable dialogues of the 1995 psycho-thriller The Net. At that time, hacking and the occasional computer virus was all the chaos cyber forensic experts had to worry about. But now, with Nigerian scams, online thefts, identity thefts, false profiles and the ever increasing domain of pornography, the chaos is only increasing and proportionally, so is the demand for cyber forensic experts.

What is Cyber Forensics?
In computer evidence: Collection and preservation, defined cyber forensics as ‘the art and science of applying computer science to aid the legal processes’. A simpler definition would be ‘the examination of computers, cyberspace and other electronic devices for evidence that might have forensic value’.

There are four basic steps that are followed in conducting a cyber forensic analysis:
* Identifying sources of digital evidence
* Securing and preserving identified evidence
* Analyzing the evidence
* Documenting legally admissible evidence

Scope of Work:
Cyber forensics is a field that is just taking root in India, and has a tremendous potential for growth. As far as cyber crime investigation goes, there is tremendous scope. If you see the trend in last couple of years, there has been thousands of cases registered and solved all over India. While there are no official records as to the number of cyber crimes committed in India. IBI Detectives Pvt Ltd, recalls a statistic which claims that in a two-year period from February 2000 to December 2002, Indian corporate and government websites have been attacked or defaced over 780 times.

Cyber forensics experts can find employment in both in the public and the private sector. Public sector employment is limited to police and other law enforcement agencies, with cyber crime departments in Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Lucknow and Thiruvananthapuram. In the private sector, there are great opportunities in IT and non-IT companies; and also, there are a lot of prospects for those starting out independent consultancies.

Some of the primary responsibilities for those involved with cyber forensics in the private sectors are to guard against data theft, prevent penetration into the security systems, and stop hacking, virus and phishing attacks. While for those involved in cyber forensics in the public-sector investigating violations of the Information Technology Act, 2000, are the primary responsibilities.

Even though cyber forensics is a highly technical and specialized discipline, there are no fixed educational qualifications required in order to pursue a career in this discipline. A graduate degree in any field, with some specialized training in computers and information technology is usually sufficient.

Practical knowledge and experience are the key factors that make a good cyber forensic expert. Having knowledge of computer storage devices, operating systems, programming languages and software applications are also added bonuses that can only further the opportunities available to cyber forensic experts.

In addition, all professionals undergo refreshers courses every six months in order to keep themselves updated with the latest trends in the field.

There are no industry standards at present to determine the salary and remuneration available to a cyber forensic expert, and therefore the salary is largely dependent on the experience of the expert and the requirement of the company that is hiring.

In the public sector, it is impossible to calculate the salary, as in addition to solving cyber crimes, most police officers end up solving physical crimes as well. In the private sector, however, the average starting salary could range from Rs 400,000 to Rs 600,000, per annum for a fresher, with an increment as the expert gains more knowledge and experience.