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The darker side of being a computer forensics analyst

Discussion of computer forensics employment and career issues.
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Re: The darker side of being a computer forensics analyst

Post Posted: Jan 26, 10 13:30

Extremely interesting thread guys.....

I don't really want to get into the whole Police Officer Vs Civilian Staff issue here as it isn't entirely relevant to this thread, but it is relevant to my comment.

I have been a Police Officer for 28 years, 24 of those as a Detective. I have been a Forensic Examiner for 6 years.

When I joined the HTCU I had already personally witnessed - Fatal RTAs - Cot Deaths - Murder Scenes - Serious Assaults - A&E Departments on Friday nights - Post Mortems - Domestic Violence, just to name a few highlights of the human condition.

I guess I have built up my own personal defence mechanisms that help me deal with the horrors of the job that I do. I have been married to the same woman for 27 years and have 3 grown up, well adjusted, daughters. I am still relatively sane - I must be doing something right.

I still get immense satisfaction from the job that I do, namely, bringing bad people to some kind of justice. At the risk of climbing up on my moral high horse, it is why I joined the job in the first place.

I was asked yesterday (strangely enough) do I still find anything shocking when examining people's lives in a beige box. My answer? I am very rarely shocked nowadays by anything that the human animal does, I am frequently saddened but I realised a long time ago that I can't take on the woes of the entire world at one go. Like eating an elephant, it is something best done one bite at a time.

Not sure if this post says what I intended when I started but I thought I would contribute anyway.

Ho hum - nose re-applied to grindstone - that backlog won't clear itself you know!



Re: The darker side of being a computer forensics analyst

Post Posted: Jan 31, 10 04:12

This is an interesting article from the Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology (2009). Does not seem to say a great deal that is new, however puts it out there...

"Identifying and Managing Stress in Child Pornography and Child Exploitation Investigators" www.springerlink.com/c...21kw084mu/  

Senior Member

Re: The darker side of being a computer forensics analyst

Post Posted: Feb 01, 10 02:28

Good find fromang!

...significant impact on their parenting practices/style as a result of shifts in their beliefs about the trustworthiness of others (e.g., coaches, babysitters) or the level of perceived threat in the world.

Yeah, duh!  


Re: The darker side of being a computer forensics analyst

Post Posted: Feb 01, 10 14:57

- Patrick4n6
One of the questions that you may get asked in an interview for a LEO that does a lot of this work is likely to relate to whether you have an issue with dealing with this kind of material. An "I'll see after my first case" response won't be viewed favourably by the selection panel.

It's not very long that i'm working in the field. And my response as candidate to the job to this exact question was that i don't know, that i handled some violent stuff in the paset and that i hope that i will be able to handle the CEM... and i was taken.

If i were in the selection panel, i would prefer the honest "I'll see after my first case" over a "I'm a tough guy, I can handle everything - and I never need psychological or any other help btw".

Just my irrelevant opinion...  


Re: The darker side of being a computer forensics analyst

Post Posted: Feb 06, 10 04:07

I worked for two years as a computer forensic analyst with the Dutch Police, during that time I saw my share of child pornography cases. About 80 percent of the caseload was CP, lucky for us most of the matches were made via hash values, every now and then you took a quick peek to see if you got the right guy (or girl). I must say after a while you (well I) learned to deal with the very graphic pictures you saw, it was always a good feeling when they got a suspect convicted and you did your share. Unfortunately budget cuts ended my "career", I believe I could have done this job for many years to come.  

Senior Member

Re: The darker side of being a computer forensics analyst

Post Posted: Feb 06, 10 05:24

Very valuable posts...it's healthy to discuss this area of the job.

Related to this, I recently had a vist from a course tutor from a Uni who was checking up on a placement student we have had for the last 4 months. He had a Health and Safety form to fill out which contained all the usual stuff about fire exists, first aid, heavy lifting, etc etc. After the forms had been completed, I said that I was very surprised that nothing had been mentioned in relation to the possible viewing of this type of images and the students welfare. The explanation was that the forms were standard and did not relate to any particular job. Whilst we don't specialise if this area of work, it's a fact of life that if you view enough seized PCs over time, this material will come up. This could have a significant impact on a 20 year old placement student who has seen nothing like this before. I would be interested to hear from other students or placement employers on what steps the University have taken to cover this issue.  


Re: The darker side of being a computer forensics analyst

Post Posted: Feb 08, 10 01:10

I'm currently in my final year of studying CF at university in the UK and I have often wondered/worried about the fact that I'll almost certainly, at some point, encounter these harrowing images/videos. While I would already consider myself pretty desensitized, I can't imagine the emotional trauma that it could evoke.

Is it really worth going through it in the end? This article has been quite eye opening and now I'm worried that I might not hack it or worse end up with post traumatic stress or something.


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