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Patrick4n6
(@patrick4n6)
Senior Member

As has been mentioned here earlier by others, the International Association of Computer Investigative Specialists (IACIS) has been considering whether to open up the Certified Forensics Computer Examiner (CFCE) to the public (subject to some conditions such as a background check). This afternoon, the Secretary of IACIS announced that the plebiscite of the membership on this issue has passed and been ratified by the board of directors.

Here is in basic terms what's happened to this point, and what the future holds. There has been a discussion for a while in the certification side of IACIS about opening up the certification only to the general public. In order for this to happen, IACIS has to change some of its policies, and possibly a bylaw. The board after consulting with the membership put the issue to a vote, and the vote just passed. To be clear, IACIS has not voted to open up their training or membership outside their current membership requirements at this point.

So there's still some work to be done in finalising the new policies before the general public will be able to apply to undertake the CFCE process, but it will be happening. It's possible that it may be done in time for the next cycle, which starts in January, but I don't know.

If you've been wanting to test yourself against what many of us believe is the toughest cert in the field, or you really want a solid peer review (which is part of the process) then you'll soon have your opportunity. If you're not aware, the CFCE process consists of 4 media examinations (one of which is a full hard drive), a "wild card" problem and a lengthy written examination. There's a strong focus on core skills, such that automated tools are banned for the first few problems. Manually recovering files with a hex editor… yummy!

I've been on the pro side of this discussion for a long time and I'm really happy that the board and the membership agreed. I'm also glad that now you all (subject to meeting the requirements) can test yourself against essentially the same process that I did (albeit, I took it under the old "external" system, which was the hard mode and no longer exists).

(Disclaimer I hold a committee position with IACIS, however I am making this post as a private member, and not in any official capacity.)

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Posted : 20/07/2010 10:26 am
douglasbrush
(@douglasbrush)
Senior Member

This is really exciting news! Thanks for the update Tony.

I do wonder what this means for the CCE.

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Posted : 20/07/2010 6:44 pm
jhup
 jhup
(@jhup)
Community Legend

This is indeed awesome!

Now for the … cost…

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Posted : 20/07/2010 7:01 pm
gugnheim
(@gugnheim)
New Member

Very nice information. Thank you all who voted for this. I'm former LEO, but been out several years, and this is good news for being able to join and grow my skills and for everyone else with the same desire.
Ryan

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Posted : 20/07/2010 11:38 pm
Patrick4n6
(@patrick4n6)
Senior Member

Gugnheim, there hasn't been a change to the IACIS membership policies. If you're an ex-LEO and you wanted to join, you'd have to apply for associate membership (as I understand it). That hasn't changed.

What's happening is that you won't need to meet the current requirement to be an IACIS member, or an active LEO/Govt/Contractor to take the certification.

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Posted : 21/07/2010 12:42 am
gugnheim
(@gugnheim)
New Member

My bad! Thanks for clearing up the case for me. Reading It's not just a job….
Ryan

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Posted : 21/07/2010 6:24 am
debaser_
(@debaser_)
Active Member

I do wonder what this means for the CCE.

This should be interesting to see. I am interested to see how difficult the IACIS practicals are in comparison as well. From the description given by Patrick4n6, it looks like it may be more challenging, but in a good way.

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Posted : 22/07/2010 3:04 am
jekyll
(@jekyll)
Member

Great news. I did my CFCE last year without the conference, training or mentoring (as an international candidate) which would be similar to what is proposed I guess. Let me tell you, the cost of the certification is infetismal compared to the investment in time for this certification, but its well worth it, you learn heaps and its like a rite of passage.

One comment is that the process is VERY much designed around having a mentor and not getting feedback throughout the process about whether you're meeting the requirements or scope was incredibly unfair and frustrating and I hope the playing field is leveld out there.

I was a pretty first principals winhex savvy examiner before CFCE, but the process took me to new levels of understanding. It takes you to a depth you rarely ever get to in investigations, unlike many other certifications that just cover fundamentals.

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Posted : 22/07/2010 12:30 pm
Cults14
(@cults14)
Active Member

I do wonder what this means for the CCE

CCE - I've tried several times to get info from the UK on the boot camps, the link on their website doesn't work. And if you email them direct they don't reply.

Or am I missing something?

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Posted : 22/07/2010 3:44 pm
Jonathan
(@jonathan)
Senior Member

As has been mentioned here earlier by others, the International Association of Computer Investigative Specialists (IACIS) has been considering whether to open up the Certified Forensics Computer Examiner (CFCE) to the public (subject to some conditions such as a background check). This afternoon, the Secretary of IACIS announced that the plebiscite of the membership on this issue has passed and been ratified by the board of directors.

Quite interesting. Was looking at the CCE, but this does appear a tougher process which can only be a good thing. Will probably forgo the F3 conference this year and spend my money/time on this instead. Tony, when will this go 'live' and IACIS begin to accept non-LEO applicants?

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Posted : 22/07/2010 5:05 pm
rjpear
(@rjpear)
Member

One comment is that the process is VERY much designed around having a mentor and not getting feedback throughout the process about whether you're meeting the requirements or scope was incredibly unfair and frustrating and I hope the playing field is leveld out there.

I was a pretty first principals winhex savvy examiner before CFCE, but the process took me to new levels of understanding. It takes you to a depth you rarely ever get to in investigations, unlike many other certifications that just cover fundamentals.

Yes..You did it the HARD way..I almost say IMPOSSIBLE.. but you dd it. They changed the rules for that process and it no longer exists.. If you are Certifying you get the Full Mentor etc.. no more Guessing at what is needed or required..and that way the Coach can PUSH ya if you know a bit too much.. 😉

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Posted : 22/07/2010 5:24 pm
Patrick4n6
(@patrick4n6)
Senior Member

Jonathan, as I said, there needs to be a change to some policies, and perhaps a bylaw. Under IACIS rules, any such change needs to be drafted, initially approved by the board, then posted for a month for member review and feedback, and then unconditionally approved by the membership. Additionally, IACIS is going to need to source provider(s) for the background checks to cover multiple countries since they have over 60 (maybe more, I haven't checked lately) different countries represented. I think it's doable for the next round of certification, which begins after the EU conference, but I'm not directly involved in the process so I can't say with any certainty.

Paul, there is already (as of the current cycle already underway) no longer any difference between being external (didn't attend the training before entering the cert) and internal. All students get full mentoring during the peer review (first 4 problems) and all get zero mentoring for the certification stage (hdd problem and written exam).

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Posted : 22/07/2010 9:39 pm
jhup
 jhup
(@jhup)
Community Legend

so wait. To try for CFCE one still needs to have LEO experience?

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Posted : 22/07/2010 9:51 pm
mkel2000
(@mkel2000)
New Member

While having the CFCE certification available to the general public will probably be helpful, IACIS will need to make some major changes to their process to make it accepted by the general forensic community.

The certification process, in my experience, is highly subjective. Pass or fail on each of the practicals is left to each coach who grades the written report that is required for each practical. You have a year to complete the certification, but there are arbitrary internal deadlines for each practical that are buried ten pages deep in their instructional documents and if the deadline is not met you fail the process regardless of the reason. Granting of extensions are possible, but again this is arbitrary and depends on who in the IACIS hierarchy reviews it.

There is a written test that is part of the certification process, but this is done at the end of the practicals and consists of essay-only answers. If you fail this portion, you have failed the entire certification, regardless of how you performed on the practicals.

All that said, my experience with this process was in 2005 and it may have changed somewhat. If it has, all the better. If not, then you need to be aware of the issues if you plan on attempting the certification.

Mark

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Posted : 22/07/2010 10:30 pm
Patrick4n6
(@patrick4n6)
Senior Member

Jhup, no, you don't need LE experience.

mkel, the CFCE is being transitioned to a completely objective testing methodology. The issue of subjective grading by coaches was acknowledged by the certification stakeholders over a year ago and much of it has already been resolved, or will be resolved in the near future.

The structure of timeframes has also been changed substantially since '05. You get 4 months to complete the peer review which consists of 3 practicals and the wildcard. There are no milestones within that 4 months, you can finish as fast or as slow as you like so long as all 4 questions are finalised before the end date. Once you pass peer review, you get I think 2 months to do the hard drive and the final exam.

As for the comment about failing the exam means you fail the whole thing, I think you'll find that in any competency based testing program, the same thing applies. You are expected to meet all the competencies, and the competencies are spread out amongst the practicals and the exam. If you don't pass it all, then you're not yet competent, and you need to study some more and try again. If you fail at the certification phase, you wait 60-180 days and apply to retake the certification phase. There's a fee for the do-over that's to be announced, but I don't expect it will be much.

The IACIS website has the dates for application for the next CFCE cycle. Enrollment is August 15, 2010 to November 1, 2010. The cycle starts on 1 December. Looking at that timeframe, and knowing the process to change the policies, I'm guessing that the June cycle will be the first one to open up, but I wouldn't rule out the new policy being in place before November.

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Posted : 23/07/2010 12:26 am
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