SUNY OCC Computer Forensics Degree - Anyone experienced it?

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Hawthorne

New Member
Jun 11, 2016
9
0
#1
Hi all! I just finished my first semester at SUNY OCC, going for my Associate's in Computer Forensics. I was curious if anyone else here has been through the program.

Honestly, I'm extremely uneasy about how much of an actual education I'll get here. My "Foundations of the Internet" class, for instance, reviewed about a dozen Linux commands, a little HTML, a little CSS, and showed us how to optimize images for the web in Photoshop. I learned more, faster, by reading online tutorials for free.

It seems like they slapped together a bunch of basic computer classes, program design, networking, with a few criminal justice classes, threw in a single computer forensics class, and labeled it a "computer forensics" degree.

Would it be more cost effective to simply teach myself? Is a degree this generic really worth it? I've seen a lot online from both perspectives, but the majority seems to lean towards "practical skills will help pay off that useless degree you earned".

I'd appreciate any thoughts you all have. I'm considering redirecting into a Criminal Justice degree and just learning the computer side on my own, because I doubt OCC will ever teach me the real field-related skills. Thanks for any advice!
 

Hawthorne

New Member
Jun 11, 2016
9
0
#3
Oh no, please, downer away. :) I need realistic advice, because I got into this program without apparently really understanding the market or what the school would provide.

I was planning to go on for a Bachelor's after this, with a focus in some kind of cyber security. I'm 36, returning to college because I wanted to broaden my skills and find an interesting new career. Most of my jobs so far have been in data entry and behind-the-scenes financial operations for major banks.

I'm extremely good with computers, and can kludge together a solution to just about any problem with the help of Google and YouTube these days. But...that's about where my skill set stops. I know from past experience that I'm great with picking up programming/scripting languages, and I just started teaching myself Python when I realized it would probably never come up in college. With plans for C++, Ruby, etc.

I also know from experience that I can handle long periods of monotonous, repetitive work, examining large quantities of data, looking for discrepancies, things like that. I used to work in loss prevention and enjoyed the financial investigation side of it, searching for fraud and employee theft. I thought computer forensics would bring together a lot of skills and natural inclinations that I have.

I guess if I stay the course, it gives me four years to study privately and fill the gaps that OCC and whatever four-year-school I transfer to won't provide. But I'd appreciate some hard doses of reality, so I can make an accurate decision.
 
Dec 31, 2006
3,405
0
#4
Back in the early days of digital forensics there was no formal training and thus there were jobs for people that were motivated self-starters with computer skills. In the current job market things are quite different. Here is a sample of requirements for DF jobs on monster, pay particular attention to the educational requirements:

Required:
Bachelor’s degree in a relate field or equivalent experience
2+ years of experience in a computer investigative, forensic analysis or computer incident response team (CIRT)
Must be an EnCase Certified Examiner (EnCE)
Minimum of one additional certification from the following: GIAC Certified Forensic Examiner (GCFE), GIAC Certified Forensic Analyst (GCFA), GIAC Certified Reverse Engineering Malware (GREM), Certified Computer Examiner (CCE), AccessData Certified Examiner (ACE)
Solid understanding of forensics preservation, chain of custody procedures, evidence-handling and forensics lab best practices
Extensive working knowledge of Windows and Mac operating systems and file systems
Demonstrated skills in digital investigations including: computer forensics, network forensics, malware analysis and memory analysis
Mobile device forensics analysis and incident handling/response skills, a plus
Confident presenting to management and drafting investigation reports
Be a self-starter, work independently and adjust to changing priorities


Requirements:

Must hold an Active TS Clearance
Must be willing to deploy to remote or hostile locations around the world
Must have prior experience with conducting digital forensic exams
Must be fluent in both EnCase and FTK
Must hold at least one industry certification such as EnCE, ACE, CCE, or GIAC
Must have strong report writing skills
Must hold a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or Computer Forensics + 2 years of related experience (one of which must be doing actual digital forensic examinations).
Desired:

EnScript or Python scripting experience
Experience using various cellphone forensic tools such as Cellebrite or XRY
Hazardous deployment experience
 

Hawthorne

New Member
Jun 11, 2016
9
0
#5
Thanks for sharing that! So is the only way into the current market to start in some related field and then dovetail into computer forensics? It seems like one of those "open the box with the crowbar inside the box" situations, if there's no way to get experience without already having experience.
 
Dec 31, 2006
3,405
0
#6
There are scant few entry level positions. Most candidates are working their way up from a support position, to incident response, to forensics in the corporate world. On the law enforcement side seasoned investigators go on to get trained in digital forensics. There are a few federal agencies that will bring on a person with only educational credentials, usually a masters because there are so many candidates. Long gone are the days of learning as you go. Perhaps you are the rare candidate that shines so brightly that HR cannot help but pass along your CV.
 

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