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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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Senior Member

Re: The darker side of being a computer forensics analyst

Post Posted: Mar 28, 10 04:21

Thank you John for addressing this issue so honestly.
We can often find ourselves in a no-mans land when it comes to doing our job. I think your paper describes our struggle eloquently and I feel better for having read it.

Forensic Computer Analyst (LE)
BSc (Hons)


Re: The darker side of being a computer forensics analyst

Post Posted: Mar 31, 10 21:45


As someone who is currently trying to break into the forensics world, I have often found myself wondering which avenue to go down.

Reading this article has certainly opened my eyes further. I've spoken to various directors from the "Big Four" and all have advised me to stay away from the public sector due to the nature of content you would be expected to analyse. It's funny because people in the private sector have said to stay away from the private sector!

I guess ultimately I cannot describe how I will react until I'm faced with such a situation.

Thanks Jonathan for the excellent post!  


Re: The darker side of being a computer forensics analyst

Post Posted: Jul 18, 10 20:02

I had just happened upon this thread and all I can say is, JJI nailed it.

I have been doing digital investigations/forensics for 4 years now and there are two types of people. Those who burn out quick & those that trudge through on. The people that burn out quick, I don't blame them. The ones that keep going do it either because they realize that what they do is important or they have just become immune to it.

One thing that I will add from my own personal experience is, I find it harder to socialize with non-forensicators/investigators (whether LE or not). I guess it is because my "own" understand me.  


Re: The darker side of being a computer forensics analyst

Post Posted: Jul 19, 10 02:56

I know this is an old thread, but it pops up from time to time and this time I feel compelled to contribute.

I think what everyone needs to keep in mind is that the strongest and most important instrument you have in your tool kit is YOU. Your mind, your intellect, your conscience, your soul. We need to realize that under the stress of this job; every now and then that tool may need readjustment, just like any other tool. If you had a tool, a piece of software or equipment, that started to act or react differently, you wouldn't just continue to use it until it broke. You would fix it. YOU are no different.

Recognizing that you're starting to be affected isn't a sign of weakness or a flaw. It's an indicator that you need to do something.

Talk to a wife or girlfriend if you are so blessed as to have one that can relate to where you are.

Talk to a friend, a co-worker or a supervisor, if you can. Sometimes it doesn't need to be anything other than a quiet heart to heart talk over a beer. Many of them have been there before and if nothing else, you'll realize that behind all of those defense mechanisms, you're not any different than others.

Seek spiritual guidance if that's within your belief system.

Seek professional help. There are many counselors out there who are trained to help with workplace stress.

Whatever you do, remember to take care of the most valuable tool in your inventory. YOU. If you’re smart enough to do this job, you’re smart enough to recognize when you have a problem and how to deal with it.
By contributing this, I’m not trying to get all warm and fuzzy with you. I’m a retired LE manager and I’m not really the warm and fuzzy type. What I’m trying to do is give you a technique for dealing with a common workplace problem to protect your investment in time, training, experience and sanity.

Michael W. Picone, EnCE
Reserve Deputy Sheriff
Riverside County Sheriff’s Department
Riverside, CA  


Re: The darker side of being a computer forensics analyst

Post Posted: Jul 28, 10 23:12


I'm right there with ya bud. I did forensic examinations for over 14 years and saw some of the worst stuff possible. I thought I had a handle on coping with the disturbing images until I, and my team, were unceremoniously laid off. That started a domino effect that cost me my house and my sanity for a while. With the onset of the lay-off, depression kicked in which triggered memories of all those graphics and videos I had seen, both in civilian work, as well as military duty.

I went through some lengthy "analysis" by the VA and they concluded that I was suffering from something usually associated with soldiers seeing battle; PTSD. The doctors had never really thought about the "other" ways of seeing battle, like those of us handling all those disturbing pieces of media. In fact, the VA has come out recognizing non-battle induced forms of PTSD. I had been out of the forensics arena for 4 years and now I'm back, but as an instructor. Not too sure I want to go back viewing those things again.

Good luck to you and the rest of the gang we used to work with and let me know if I can help. Smile


Senior Member

Re: The darker side of being a computer forensics analyst

Post Posted: Jul 28, 10 23:39

There was recently an article about this.

How young staff are hired to review web sites and pages - hundreds and hundreds of them, often with horribly disgusting content.

Workers at Telecommunications On Demand, who make $8 to $12 an hour, view photos that have been stripped of information about the users who posted them. Rapidly cycling through pages of 300 images each, they are asked to flag material that is obviously pornographic or violent, illegal in a certain country or deemed inappropriate by a specific Web site.

Last month, an industry group established by Congress recommended that the federal government provide financial incentives for companies to “address the psychological impact on employees of exposure to these disturbing images.”


Re: The darker side of being a computer forensics analyst

Post Posted: May 11, 15 08:57

No replies here in a long time so maybe nobody is listening anymore. Anyway I worked forensics for a few years and I've been out for just as many. I had nightmares for a while and some images are never going to leave. Yeah my sense of humor has gotten a bit dark for most now and at times I tend to say the wrong thing in civilized company. I kept going because we did good work and put some real monsters away but then one day one of the monsters was set free by a piece of work attorney that showed the search authority didn't have all the "I"s dotted or some other lame excuse. I mean during the trial the monster fully admitted to doing what he did and even bragged about how cleaver he was going about it. To make matter worse he asked through his attorney for the return of all his computer and video equipment. I lost it and finally quit. I'm left with a lot of scars because some of the monsters still haunt but If most of the monster are still locked up then it was worth it.  

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