Masters Degree it is then, but from whom?
Long time member, first time poster. I've come to the realisation that my IT career has hit a bit of a dead end (I'm a lowly desktop engineer). I was thinking about going in to projects but after working for a couple of years on a contract for a national law enforcement agency (that I shall not name here) I saw some very interesting work being done on the side of forensics and since then I've been reading up a lot about it. It seems as though there is a new story in the news about some breach here, some mention of mobile data being analysed there, or another government suspected of state sponsored hacking.
Anyway, I've spoken to a couple of universities and although I don't have a Ba in anything, I do have 4-5 years working in IT and judging by the course materials I've been looking at I'm pretty confident I can keep up (which it what's it's all about at the end of the day).
My question is this, is there something like a top three universities that offer an Ma in Computer Forensics that, should I have one, put me in better standing then, say someone who did it via the OU? Nothing again't the OU - I just want to get the best value for my money as well as the best chances of getting a job at the other end of it.
I was looking at this one at Westminster http//www.westminster.ac.uk/courses/subjects/computer-science-and-software-engineering/postgraduate-courses/part-time-evening-only/p09ppcfs-msc-computer-forensics
Not sure if you are needing to stay strictly to England…but I was look at the University College Dublin course. A couple of my colleagues have done it and it comes highly recommended. From my informal polling it certainly ranks up there among the best.
I would be doing the Law Enforcement one, but there is also a general public course
Thanks, looks interesting however it's not far from double the price of the Westminster course and I have family commitments so unless it's something very special I think I'll need to keep it down here if I possible…
I recommend going through the list of universities listed on the forensic focus site.
The only two Universities I have knowledge of in regards of their digital forensics degrees are the University of Glasgow and University college Dublin. Both have good courses, licenses for various hardware and software and cover the major topics of digital forensics.
When your picking your university (not just forensics but any IT) It is also important to ask what material and licenses they have. Employers want to hear that you used industry recognized tools. For forensics its tools like Encase, FTK, Cellebrite UFED, MicroSystemation XRY. There are also plenty of free tools and your knowledge will always be the most important, but if you got to use the commercial tools during your degree, it will give you that extra edge.
Some universities also combine their course with a certification (FTK, Encase ect..) although certifications are secondary to a Msc degree, its still one of these extra things that helps employers choose you. Although employers may have a good idea what a Msc in computer forensics covers, it can vary slightly per University, but if you also have a Certification, digital forensics employers will instantly know “ah he also that certificate, so we can be sure he can do x,y and z”
Lastly it has been important for me to not only be able to use the tools, but to know how they work and be able to explain how and why of everything in detail. It help if you have a course who's modules really make you learn about the process in depth and doesn't just teach you how to use an existing tools. My own quick rule of thumb, I should know how to do everything by hand if I have too. (and *spoiler* sometimes you will have too).
Quick summary Check the course modules for in depth knowledge. Ask about what tool/software they use/have. Ask about certifications.
I completed my Computer Forensic Degree in the University of Glamorgan now University of South Wales. Whilst on the second and third year we looked at MAC forensics, Mobile Phone forensics, Games console forensics such as Wii and Xbox 360's and advanced data recovery.
The main piece of software used was the AccessData suites.
I would take a look at their masters… I know the stuff I mentioned above is their degree course, but the masters looks at some of the same modules!
I did the MSc at Westminster a couple of years ago - in my view, it's a good course. It covers the basics well and serves as a good introduction to forensics.
I did it part-time as I was working full-time and it was manageable, as it's all run in the evenings. It was one of the deciding factors for me. Plus you don't need a previous degree, so as long as you've got some relevant experience, you should be fine.
It was a little lacking in a couple areas i.e. Browser forensics and mobile, but you can study these yourself as part of the coursework (e.g. for the forensics tools module, one of the courseworks is to compare forensic tools - you could choose a range of tools for browser forensics).
Although I haven't done the course I would highly recommend the university of Glamorgan, the staff and students over there are doing some very interesting work, particularly around data recovery and they have some excellent resources.
However, if you are looking closer to London then there is still the option of doing an MSc through Cranfield Uni at Shrivenham Defence Academy. You would need to attend modules there but I believe these are staggered so you would not be required to attend all the time. A colleague of mine has taken a sabbatical to complete his MSc there this year.
I can personally vouch for and recommend University College Dublin (UCD) here in Ireland. I am currently doing the Masters in Digital Investigation & Computing Forensics myself and i am REALLY enjoying it. The course is well laid out and presented.
In particular 2 projects which i really enjoyed was working on a kidnapping case that they got a writer to come up with and they set up 3 disk images. You use provided software such as X-Ways, Net Analysis etc. to investigative the 3 images and figure out what happened and the story behind the kidnapping.
The second was a live pen testing project where we had to attack an environment set up for us and discover its vulnerabilities, exploit them and then document how best to fix the vulnerability. We had about 2 months to complete each project and i loved doing both of them.
You are listed as living in the UK and this course is open to distance learning. We currently have a class of about 50-60 people, 35 or so of those people are all doing distance learning from all over the world. All classes are streamed live whenever the class is scheduled for and each classes is recorded and uploaded to moodle. So if you do not manage to catch the live stream, you can watch the recording at your own convenience.
Through the year i think there are only 2 mandatory days of attendance, 1 for exams and 1 for a workshop. The rest all assignments can be submitted online via moodle.
There is a huge opportunity for this in Africa. I am an Msc Forensics and Security graduate hoping to setup a consultancy in Ghana.
if anyone wants to partner he or she is welcome. I know this may sound crazy but the chances here are better than Europe where firms are just not hiring.
I have moved back from the UK after graduation and hoping to do this but I can't do it alone.
Let me know if you are interested as you can always bail if you think it is a waste of time but I don't know of any Forensics Lab in West Africa and that's how large the market is here.
Get in touch at khnart @ yahoo.com if you are interested