Posted: Fri Dec 18, 2009 4:08 am Post subject: Help us, $30k budget need to get a job in Computer Forensics
Basically we have some money, around $30k give or take, that MUST be spent this year. My wife's once successful business has failed and she would like to pursue her dream in computer forensics. She has no LE experience, but lots of computer/technical experience. None of her computer experience is related to security. She knows her way pretty well in Windows (all versions), Linux and OSX.
Our plan is at a high level:
Get her licensed as a PI, basic course $400, and application
Get her some training in CF
Get her more advanced training in CF using a vendors toolset
Perhaps more training in investigations via college or private training
Purchase some equipment (write blocker, CF toolset)
Initial thoughts were:
Read alot of books, forums, play with opensource, watch video content online that is free, etc.
Take local PI class, $400, apply to state of florida for basic PI
Take Infosec Institute training for CCFE/CHFI and obtain CCFE
Purchase FTK and/or Encase along with smartphone options
Go thru at least three levels of training from vendor, perhaps using their education passport.
Enroll in college or school for additional forensics/investigations knowledge
GET A JOB!
The key is to get a job. The money is "use or lose" in a rather complicated situation that I don't want to get into here. I dont have to spend it all on this, but I would like to use it as the best investment so she can do all thats possible to secure a job. She does not have the benefit of LE experience or CF experience, so she will try to get in at the bottom and hopes to at least bring to the table lots of training she has received. Goal would be to at least work somewhere for 1-2 years, ideally she would like to be in business for herself but not sure that would be easy to start off that way.
They do offer 2 year degrees in criminal justice where I am at, she could potentially do that as well, but really needs to get back to work in a year. There is a school here that does a 6 month program in "professional investigator" that covers things like investigations, interviews, surveillance, skip tracing, etc. She would like to focus on CF, however some computer related investigations like skip tracing interest her. She wants to specialize in CF.
Its important to understand that in 1 year this money will be gone, and cannot be saved. This is why I am thinking she should invest early in things like encase/ftk/write blocker in case she needs to try to stick it out on her own, she would not be able to afford these expenses unless she made them this year. Perhaps purchasing both systems would be wise, to learn both, and give her more flexibility?
This is not the ideal situation, not the way we wanted to go about things. But these are the constraints we have to work with. one year of intense training, a good budget to do it in, and maybe obtain some tools of the trade. Please help us make some good decisions.
I know this seems like a silly question, but does she have an aptitude for computers? What does: "She knows her way pretty well in Windows (all versions), Linux and OSX." mean? Is she in the IT business? Does she like working on computers? Is she a problem solver?
Those are all questions she should ask herself before you dump $30K into a career.
And that is money that needs to be spent in the next 12 months not spent in the next two weeks of this year right?
Yes, her whole life has been in computers. She worked for 5 years as a technical support supervisor for an ISP, then started who own business that buys and sells Cisco hardware (networking). It was very successful for 5 years. All the servers at her work were Linux based, and so she has had to deal with many technical issues.
There are no shortages of training programs, published works, and specialized software available today - you can spend your 30K quickly
I think, given what you've written, that focusing on the fundamentals of forensics would be a great place for your wife to begin. There are no shortages of tool monkeys in the field, those who simply "learn" forensics by interacting with a GUI (say, EnCase, for example). If your wife focuses on the fundamentals and learns the principles then in the long run she'll be a much more competent, confident, and articulate practitioner. I'd look into training programs covering principles and fundamentals first, and then perhaps tool-specific training. Additionally, there are a number of good books available - most not forensic-oriented. I've found most books of value to be about a topic written by an expert - not a forensic expert. Too many of the published forensic books are very narrow in scope and miss key details and points to ponder.
You must do a two year internship with an "A" licensed agency as a "CC" licensed investigator. After your two years of FULL TIME VERIFIABLE work as an investigator (hope you like 12 hour days in a hot car in a florida sun) -- then you can apply for your "C" license, and eventually your "A" license (agency)
ONE year of your internship can be knocked off for an approved degree program in criminal justice. however, the state of Florida is VERY picky about what they accept. you must have ALL your t's crossed and i's dotted to get your "C" license.
i quite enjoyed the work, from the surveillance to the court testimony. being a computer nerd that goes all the way back to ARPANET, i naturally have always felt that computer based investigation and forensics is the way to go. i am also a big fan of TSCM and corporate security -- and you should add in the "D" and "G" security licensing if you like that stuff as well.
computer forensics seems like a great field, but 90% of the posts i am reading here are sadly from people who don't have much experience, are going to spend thousands of dollars for some "vocational school", and will never end up with a job in the field.
there are a handful of posters here who obviously know what they are talking about -- the ones who are giving you the hard facts about how difficult it is
the P.I license is a GREAT thing to have, and the experience is great as well. but it's not an easy two years, trust me.......especially depending upon the agency that "sponsors" your "CC" license.
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