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chrono1
(@chrono1)
New Member

Is there a major difference between CF in law enforcement and CF in the private sector? In other words, do they handle different things? Also, are a lot of you guys in law enforcement?

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Posted : 05/04/2005 6:06 pm
gmarshall139
(@gmarshall139)
Active Member

Although the cases may be different the work is very similiar. Good forensic procedures and techniques are used regardless, and those procedures and techniques will be the same. Where the difference is will be in what each is looking for. A corporate examiner will deal more with incident response, for example, than a law enforcement examiner would.

I think there are more LE examiners than any other type currently. I just base this on a general feeling coupled with the memberships at some of the web forums I participate in. I am personally an examiner for a Law Enforcement agency, but also do a little work in the private sector.

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Posted : 05/04/2005 8:16 pm
blivet
(@blivet)
New Member

And lets not forget the money 🙂

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Posted : 07/04/2005 5:28 am
Andy
 Andy
(@andy)
Active Member

Generally those working in the private sector as better paid than law enforcement. Just depends where and who you work for. However law enforcement has the (IMHO) advantage of being extremely secure (I'll probably live to regret saying that :)).

Also the goal for law enforcement in Forensic Computing is to examine cases with a view to prosecuting the offender, there are not really any time constraints with each either (although we do try to be as expedicious as possible). In the private world I imagine you are working against the clock, time & money, quantity etc.

Andy

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Posted : 07/04/2005 11:00 am
blivet
(@blivet)
New Member

Generally those working in the private sector as better paid than law enforcement. Just depends where and who you work for. However law enforcement has the (IMHO) advantage of being extremely secure (I'll probably live to regret saying that :)).

Also the goal for law enforcement in Forensic Computing is to examine cases with a view to prosecuting the offender, there are not really any time constraints with each either (although we do try to be as expedicious as possible). In the private world I imagine you are working against the clock, time & money, quantity etc.
Andy

I have worked in both sectors, and actually left the private sector (55%pay cut) because of the central objective…money. Now, I don't blame the private sector, they have to be bottom line oriented. However, when it comes motivation, money didn't motivate like the chase and capture did.

I found that the law enforcement sector wants cases solved while the private sector wants profitable cases. That is a BIG difference in philosophy. Its more a decision of what you want as an individual.

If you are motivated long-term by your checking account, there is no better option than the private sector. But if you want to watch the bad guys give you that "how did you find that look" AND you like lots of peanut butter and canned soup, then LE may be your way. 🙂

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Posted : 07/04/2005 10:16 pm
mark777
(@mark777)
Active Member

I work in law enforcement and agree with what has been said so far. From our point of view i tend to find that in LE the vast majority of our cases involve child abuse images so if you are thinking of going into the field in LE you need to be sure that you are happy (if that is the right word) with spending most of your time looking at some pretty horrific stuff. having said that when you get them to court and hopefully jail the feeling you get normally makes all the heartache worthwhile

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Posted : 24/04/2005 4:56 pm
femur
(@femur)
New Member

Law enforcement here too, any coleague out there, PM me if you want 😉

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Posted : 16/06/2005 3:07 pm
armresl
(@armresl)
Community Legend

Another point would be that the private sector (which I am a member of) has no geographical boundries. I am in Indiana and have been all over the US, but never overseas for a case. I am not taking into consideration cross jurisdictional task forces etc, but that is a very high possibility too. The hours seem to be about the same because either sector can be called upon 24 hours a day.

As far as pay goes, with LE you at least get a check every week, with PS you get checks when there is business. Although, at industry standard which seems to be $175-$225/hr it deosn't take many hours to make up for that.

In the PS you will see civil, local, state, federal, and people who just want to know what is on their computers. With LE your cases are more specific to a few of those areas.

Both are worthwhile and you can't really go wrong IMHO.

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Posted : 16/06/2005 4:48 pm
mark777
(@mark777)
Active Member

agree with the travelling around bit but even in Law Enforcement the geographical boundaries do not apply in High Tech Crime. Thisyear so far I have been to germany twice and Ireland so many times I am sick of it.

At the moment I have about 50 jobs out in other countries running (mostly America) with trace details on another 70 plus still to come in.

One of the main problems in LE in this respect is that with us supposed to only Police a particular area ( normally a county) the hierarchy fail to understand the amount of work we have to do where our area actually gets no benefit from it in terms of convictions or detected crimes etc.

The problem is that I suppose in the corporate side when you get to a stage where your company is not going to benefit you can pull the plug but in LE we cannot say that we know where a child abuser is but because he is in for example America we are just going to ignore it.

Still - whatever field we are in it still has to be one of the best jobs there is.

At least my mind is still fairly active even if the body is past it

All the best

mark

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Posted : 16/06/2005 9:55 pm
akaplan0qw9
(@akaplan0qw9)
Member

I'm in my 41st year as an investigator and I see the question more as one involving an investigator in general, rather than a a computer forensics investigator, per se. I have worked in law enforcement, corporate security and as a private investigator. Upon reflection, I can say that I never had a job I did not enjoy.

For a person starting out, my vote is for law enforcement where they understand the need for training and can normally afford to give it. You can expect both technical and moral support. Pay can vary, but there is no theoratical cap on advancement (except for politics). That is, a guy on the forgery detail is still a cop and can still become Chief.

The Corporate Sector can often start out at greater pay levels (But not always.) Training is affordable by corporations, but the dollar and cents decisions are made by board members who are more likely to opt for golf trips by the sales staff. You have to keep in mind that it is rare that any investigation actually "makes money". Sometimes you can turn a neat trick by recovering assets, however it is rare that you will ever be considered to be a profit center. Remember, the mission of that company is to make money. You will always be viewed as a cost of doing business. There is an ability to rise through the corporate ranks once you are firmly established on board. However, the first thing one has to do is to divorce yourself from computer forensics – or whatever type of investigation you are working in. I have a friend who was in law enforcement, working as an auditor for the State Gaming Control Board, here in Nevada. He used the knowledge and contacts he gained in that job, to realize that auditors were a dime a dozen, but guys who could pick up a phone and bring in monied players from all over the world, were much in demand. I talked to him about 6 or 8 years ago. he was making $1.2 million a year. his specialty – sales. Another thing to consider is integrity. If you are someone who likes LE because it puts you on the side of those doing something socially significant, you may not be too happy in the corporate world. Here we have "different strokes for different strokes" . In most cases stealing is not tolerated, but punishment is often termpered by "who you know" and "what you have on who".

The last sector is Private Investigations. Clearly that is not for the neophyte. Training is very expensive and hard to acquire. You can pull in huge fees (forget about that hourly rate crap) but you can also starve to death if the phone does not ring. Here, money can often be a controlling factor. If a client does not have the funds necessary to do the job as you would like to do it, you have 3 choices, one, decline the case; try to do it 2nd class; go first class, but get paid less. You and you alone make that decision. If you want to work for nothing you can, and if are not anxious to take on an assignment you can come up with a rate that will motivate you. Once in a while we screw up! – Yes, we screw up, not often, but once is too often. In such cases, we have the power to make it right with the client and we do. On the other hand, we saved the asses of two wealthy clients in two blackmail cases this past year. We were not bashful about billing in those cases. In fact, in one of those cases, I told the client, "You are a generous man, pay me what it was worth". I got back a sizeable check, but a lot less than I would have gotten had I been able to put the matter to bed immediately.

Funding and budgeting in private investigation depends to a great extent upon results. We recently conducted a computer forensic examination of a hard drive. The client was so motivated and encouraged by our results, that we have since subpoenaed and are processing 6 more HDs and we are far from finished.

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Posted : 20/06/2005 7:26 pm
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