Forensic computer analyst

Forensic computer analysts investigate computer-based crime (cyber crime).

What does a forensic computer analyst do?

Cyber security professionals could be involved in a range of investigations, such as:

  • hacking, online scams and fraud
  • political, industrial and commercial espionage
  • terrorist communications
  • theft of sensitive company information by employees

One of the first tasks on a project would normally be to secure the IT system or hardware, so that it could not be tampered with. Various forensic methods and specialist computer programs would then be used to:

  • find, recover and copy data from disks that may have been hidden, encrypted or damaged
  • reveal (unlock) digital images that have been altered to mask the identity of a place or person
  • analyse mobile phone records to trace devices to a particular location (or to rule them out)
  • follow electronic data trails to uncover links between individuals or groups
  • carefully document each stage of your investigation
  • present technical findings to managers, law enforcement organisations and clients
  • act as a technical or expert witness in court cases

What do I need to do to become a forensic computer analyst?

You will usually need a background or qualification in IT or a related field. Employers may also look for industry-certification awards.

You could start in this career by working for a company, for example as a support technician, network engineer or developer. By taking professional development courses and applying for opportunities as they come up, you may eventually be able to move into a more specialised security or analyst role.

Related skills

  • Analytics
  • Attention to detail
  • Communication
  • IT
  • Organisation
  • Problem solving
  • Time management

Essential qualifications

  • Qualification in IT or a related field

Where to find out more

Where could I be working?

You could work for the police or security services, a bank, or for an IT firm that specialises in computer security. You might also work in a broader security role, for example acting as a cyber security consultant to companies and organisations.

Employers include the police, the National Crime Agency, MI5, other government departments, and IT firms specialising in computer security and investigation.

Some public employers and larger commercial organisations, such as banks, are now employing forensic computer analysts, often as part of their IT or information departments.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0

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