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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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adamd
Member
 

Re: The darker side of being a computer forensics analyst

Post Posted: Feb 08, 10 04:38

A great thread, interesting article.

Well, I dont work for law enforcement and have a purely technical background, but I've worked on a number of CP cases on both sides (as well other disturbing matters such as muder cases and more).

The prosecution matter I finished a few months back for example ran for 9 months and involved literally hundreds of thousands of images/videos/stories. The pressure of having to view and categorise all of the material (not much hash matching on this one), prove the charges and then of being on the stand for 8 long days in front of a jury going through the evidence in detail, was extreme to say the least.

But the results can often be well worth it, as it was in this case.

I think if you are going to be a computer forensic examiner, regardless of your background, there is a very strong chance you will have to deal with this kind of material. If you really don't want to be involved in this kind of work, frankly you might not be in the right field.

However, any company or organisation that does this work should support their staff with proper counselling/debriefing etc. No one (hopefully) is going to make you do this kind of work and just let you deal with it. The support should always be there.

We can't always choose the matters we work on. If you dont want to work on this stuff and you dont want be in the stand, are you really cut out for computer forensics?  

Last edited by adamd on Feb 08, 10 07:17; edited 1 time in total
 
  

Gromit
Member
 

Re: The darker side of being a computer forensics analyst

Post Posted: Feb 08, 10 06:04

- adamd

We can't always choose the matters we work on. If you dont want to work on this stuff and you dont want be in the stand, are you really cut out for computer forensics?

As much as I hate to sound elitist or something, I have to agree. I can't stand watching a needle go into someone's arm so I'll never get a job in the medical field. If I thought I'd get angry or sick looking at CP, I'd find another job. Who'd want to go through that every day?

Having said that, I would guess that it's hard to know how you'll react to the material until you get to see it in quantity. It never affected me that I can see, but I'm not everyone.  
 
  

glasgowmegasnake
Newbie
 

Re: The darker side of being a computer forensics analyst

Post Posted: Feb 08, 10 07:04

Well I should think that anyone would feel angry or sick at first, its just a question of whether a person in my situation is going to be someone that can hack it in the long term, and the catch of not knowing until its potentially too late.

Its not that I don't think I could hack it, but reading articles like this is kind of scary - like the '2 year soul expiration'. I can't imagine how satisfying it must be to win a case against a child rapist or something, I guess that might outweigh the potential stress. But, again, I'm not going to find out until I do it.  
 
  

adamd
Member
 

Re: The darker side of being a computer forensics analyst

Post Posted: Feb 08, 10 07:29

I dont think anyone can walk away from a really disturbing matter competely unchanged or uneffected.

If you swim in a pool of toxic shit, some of it is going to stick whether you like it or not. To not react is to not be human. Its natural to feel angry and sick. I'd be worried if I didnt.

Unfortunately, its the nature of our work and examiners have to face the fact that if they haven't dealt with it already, there's every chance they're going to.

We just have to learn to deal with it better then others, just like anyone working in a similar field. I know people in Child Protection/Social Services and they deal with some awful things, same with police, nurses, ambulance drivers etc etc.

Counselling and debiefing is something every examiner that works on this type of material should be doing before, during and after the job and is something every organisation that works on these matters should have in place.  
 
  

kovar
Senior Member
 

Re: The darker side of being a computer forensics analyst

Post Posted: Feb 08, 10 08:33

Greetings,

It is the nature of the work for some, not all, examiners. I know quite a few examiners working in corporate environments who have never seen CP and probably never will. LE may see 50% to 80% of their cases involving CP but the private sector, at least in the US, will probably see less than 10%, and maybe close to 0.

-David
_________________
CISSP, CCE, EnCE, Licensed Private Investigator (CA) 
 
  

adamd
Member
 

Re: The darker side of being a computer forensics analyst

Post Posted: Feb 08, 10 09:53

The fact is, regardless of which environment you work in, a detailed investigation into a personal computer can be a very personal insight into someones behavior and sometimes into their very mind and psyche.

If you're delving deep into peoples private lives, you should be prepared to face the horror that may very well exist there, regardless of the environment they work in.

There's plenty of this kind of material floating around corporate environments as well I assure you. I've come across quiet a few matters that deal with CP in a corporate environment over the years. Hell, one guy even left printouts on the company network printer!

I agree if what you are doing is investigation into intrusions, malware analysis etc as mentioned, you probably wont see it, but my definition of "forensics" (well, THE definition of forensics) is working on legal matters/evidence for court. If someone says they are a "computer forensic examiner" then thats what I expect them to be (sorry), not a security analyst, so its probably more our definition that differs.

If your working on matters for court, you'd be foolish to think your going to be able to avoid this type of work forever IMO.

Edit: I should add that I'm not deriding those that do network intrusion/incident response work, I just see it as highly skilled technical work that utilises forensic techniques as apposed to real world computer forensics for court.  

Last edited by adamd on Feb 09, 10 03:19; edited 1 time in total
 
  

pbeardmore
Senior Member
 

Re: The darker side of being a computer forensics analyst

Post Posted: Feb 08, 10 16:33

I think that there is a broad concensus that, sooner or later, as a forensic specialist, you will come into contact with this type of material at some point. So, what are universities doing to prepare their students as best they can for this event. Does anyone know of any degree courses that include traning on the welfare issues connected with viewing CP?  
 

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