The word ‘forensics’ likely conjures up thoughts of the police and their teams of forensic experts in most people’s minds. However, in today’s rapidly evolving online threat landscape, many new roles have been created in cyber security for digital forensics specialists too. In a world where hackers and rogue nations are continually seeking to exploit IT networks and systems, a need for staff training via specialist Digital Forensics Courses has also developed.
To meet this fast increase seen in cybercrime, many of these new digital forensics courses aim to educate students in the effective forensic examination of IT networks, systems, cyber security procedures and applications.
Digital Forensic Experts are usually responsible for the detection, harvesting and then analysis of potential evidence relating to cyber crime from computer systems and networks, plus associated data storage, communications and other equipment. In order to efficiently locate and piece together the evidence, potentially for use in criminal cases, they need to be well trained. This is where cyber security audit and forensics focused training courses can help.
There are a great many different educational modules available from various training providers; their suitability naturally depends upon both the previous experience and training courses that an individual student has already attended regarding the forensic examination of digital systems. Training course may also have a specific focus too, such as on MS Windows, Apple MAC, Computer Memory, Network Forensics and Analysis or smartphones to name a few!
Whether an individual is brushing up on old skills or learning new ones, class-based learning courses do usually provide the best environment for study. Formal training courses will also provide a forensic expert with valuable accreditation, which may be of use both in their current and future career.
The ability to both work and converse with other like-minded professionals, whilst learning in a shared environment, will also improve both the practical skills and longer-term memory of the content that has been taught.
As you are no doubt well aware, many different Digital Forensics courses have become available for those working in a digital forensic role. Courses range from basic introductory modules up to detailed forensic analysis, recording and reporting. So, without further ado, lets take a look at some of the courses that are available.
1) Windows Digital Forensics Courses
Several specialist training providers are currently offering courses focused on the widely used MS Windows platform. A Windows Forensics course will provide students with all the knowledge necessary to complete a forensic examination of an MS Windows based computer. Elements covered will likely include the ShimCache and AmCache registry hive files. Digital artefact analysis and the SRUM database will also be prominent in most modules as these are important when it comes to identifying audit trails to track individuals that have stolen data. Many educators will likely have experience in law enforcement and criminal investigations, where they will have learnt their forensic skills.
2) Apple Mac and iOS Digital Forensics Courses
The ever-increasing popularity of Apple products, such as iPhones and iPads with the iOS operating system, and Mac laptops and desktop with OSX, means that training in the forensic examination of these platforms is a must. Every forensic analyst should therefore have the core skills necessary to examine these Apple devices in detail. These platforms are based on the venerable UNIX operating system, which due to its compiled Kernel code has certain advantages with regard to cyber security over MS Windows devices. Many courses will provide some real world style intrusion and incident response scenarios that students will be working hard to analyse and record for posterity!
Course content should include parsing the Apple File System (APFS) and Hierarchical File System (HFS+). It should also cover user configuration and user data files and system log files. Apple specific applications such as iCloud, Spotlight, Time Machine, FileVault and FaceTime should also be included with a module.
3) Memory Forensics Courses
Much evidence of a crime can be found within the volatile memory of many computing devices. RAM content may hold useful evidence of user action and of the actions or results of any malicious computer code. Modules should cover these elements together with how to understand memory structures, registry and disk structures. An understanding of the major operating systems too, such as MS Windows, iOS and OSX should also be included as part of a comprehensive memory forensic training course.
Many of todays more advanced malware and post-exploitation modules can employ certain self-defence techniques including rootkit and anti memory-analysis code to destroy or alter volatile memory data. You will learn how to detect and analyse these techniques in many of these types of course.
Good luck and happy hunting!
So there you have it, a good Digital Forensics Course will provide you with the skills that you need to better find, analyse and report on potential evidence relating to a potential crime or misuse of computers and associated networks. Your role is to ensure that nothing is lost form the ‘crime scene’ and evidence preserved for subsequent use!