In today's increasing digitization and automation, cybercriminals have a much larger surface area to target, and cybercrime is rising. As a result, careers in digital or computer forensics are in high demand. Digital forensics is a branch of digital forensic science that utilizes technology and investigative techniques to identify, collect, and preserve evidence from electronic devices.
Law enforcement agencies rely on digital forensics to support investigations in court, and businesses and individuals also use it to recover lost or damaged data. The ultimate goal of computer forensics is to conduct a structured investigation that maintains a clear and documented chain of evidence to determine exactly what happened on a computing device and who was responsible for it.
Digital forensics is an excellent choice if you're looking for a challenging and rewarding career. In this blog post, we are going to take a look at the career paths that you can take with the GIAC GNFA certification program.
What is the GIAC GNFA certification exam?
The GIAC Network Forensic Analyst (GNFA) certification is one of the leading forensic analyst certifications, validating a practitioner's capability of performing examinations that involve network forensic artifacts. By earning the GNFA certification, you will demonstrate your understanding of the fundamentals of network forensics, normal and abnormal conditions for common network protocols, processes and tools for examining device and system logs, and wireless communication and encryption protocols.
The GIAC GNFA certification exam covers network architecture, network protocols, and network protocol reverse engineering, encryption and encoding, NetFlow analysis and attack visualization, security event & incident logging, network analysis tools and usage, wireless network analysis, & open source network security proxies.
The GIAC GNFA exam consists of 50-66 multiple-choice questions and must be completed within 2-3 hours. To pass the GNFA exam, a passing score of 70% is required. The GNFA certification is ideal for anyone with a solid background in computer forensics, information systems, and information security interested in computer network intrusions and investigations.
Here are the topics covered in the GNFA exam:
- Network architecture, network protocols, and network protocol reverse engineering
- Encryption and encoding, NetFlow analysis and attack visualization, security event & incident logging
- Network analysis tools and usage, wireless network analysis, & open-source network security proxies
Career paths with GNFA
Network forensics analyst
The role of a network forensics analyst involves analyzing and investigating network traffic in order to identify security threats and vulnerabilities. To uncover evidence of cyber attacks, you will need to analyze network traffic and logs in depth.
Computer forensic professionals prepare data for analysis during the collection phase of the process. Their job is to figure out what was wrong and why a device failed.
The purpose of this position is to investigate crimes involving money laundering and other criminal activities that are covered up.
You are responsible for responding to and mitigating security incidents in this role. In order to prevent further damage, you must analyze network traffic and logs quickly.
You'll be responsible for designing and implementing security solutions to protect your organization's network and systems. You'll need to identify potential security risks and develop mitigation solutions.
Digital forensics investigator
Digital forensic investigators analyze digital evidence in support of legal or regulatory investigations.
In this role, you will analyze collected data and gain insights to help improve an organization's cybersecurity efforts.
Where do forensicators work?
Digital forensic investigators are in high demand, especially in the law enforcement industry. You could work directly for law enforcement agencies or be a part of a private firm hired to manage digital evidence. Alternatively, you could work as a forensic analyst for a private company, where you would identify vulnerabilities, investigate breaches, and recover data from damaged or compromised digital storage devices.
But wait, there's more! Some digital forensic investigator jobs require you to be available on-call, as incidents requiring forensic investigation can happen anytime. And if you enjoy the freedom of working on your own terms, then freelancing in this domain could be perfect for you! Hourly billing rates for freelance digital forensic investigators range from $20 to $200, so there's potential to earn a good living while doing what you love.
How much do they earn?
There are a lot of lucrative careers available in the fields of digital forensics and cybersecurity. And they make a good living! As you gain experience and skills in the industry, you also have career growth and advancement.
Take a quick look at the salary breakdown:
- Network forensics analyst - $86,156 (according to ZipRecruiter)
- Forensic engineer - $89,761 (according to Salary dot com)
- Forensic accountant - $93,404 (according to ZipRecruiter)
- Incident responder - $74,500 (according to ZipRecruiter)
- Security engineer - $92,292 (according to Glassdoor)
- Digital forensics investigator - $85,015 (according to ZipRecruiter)
- Cybersecurity analyst - $83,193 (according to Glassdoor)
The bottom line
Digital forensics is a rapidly growing career field and for good reason! Not only is it an exciting field to work in, but every day is different, making it an excellent choice for those who enjoy variety in their work. Aside from this, the job requires a broad range of skills, ensuring you'll always learn and challenge.
One of the coolest things about a career in digital forensics is that it can be highly lucrative. As you gain experience, you may even become a freelance consultant, working on global projects and enjoying working from home.
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