The rapid advance of technology has changed and influenced how we think about gathering digital
evidence. Soon after the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11,
2001, many young men and women volunteered to serve their country in different ways. For those
who did not choose the military, options included positions with law enforcement and corporate
security organizations. Ultimately, the combination of a renewed emphasis on homeland security
along with the popularity of mainstream television shows, such as CSI, Forensic Files, and NCIS,
has created a huge demand for highly educated specialists in the discipline of computer forensics.
This demand is now being met by the advent of specialized forensics courses in colleges, universities,
and even high schools throughout the United States.
Computer forensics, however, is by no means a new field of endeavor. During the early 1990s,
while serving as a Special Agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), I realized
that personal computers and, more specifically, unsecured personal computers posed a potential
threat to national security. I became involved in conducting forensic investigations involving white
collar crime, network intrusions, and telecommunications fraud. Recently, the U.S. government has
taken significant steps to improve the quality and sophistication of the country’s computer forensic
capabilities, including the formation of the U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM) in the Department
of Defense. Today, most new computer forensics specialists can expect to be involved in a wide variety
of investigations, including terrorism counterintelligence, financial fraud issues, intellectual property
theft, data security breaches, and electronic data discovery.