What is a Cybercrime Investigator?

Cybercrime InvestigatorCybercrime investigators are at the forefront of technology and law enforcement. These investigative professionals are in charge of investigating cybercrime through digital forensics and technology. Continue reading to learn more about the fascinating world of underground cybercrime.

What is Cybercrime?

Cybercrime is one of the biggest threats facing individuals, companies and the country as a whole. Cybercrime has major implications for economic prosperity, national security and even public safety. According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), America needs more well-trained IT professionals to work in cyber-security roles. Cyber-security threats are both online and physical. Criminals do everything from stealing money to confidential data to industrial secrets.

What are the Most Common Cybercrimes?

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), fraud, identify theft and computer and network intrusions are the leading cybercrimes in America. For example, criminals of all ages and nationalities hack into laptops, computers and networks through bots, worms, and viruses. They do everything from stealing personal information for identify theft purposes and national secrets for foreign intelligence agencies. Many criminals also use malicious methods to pose legitimate IT, financial and health care companies. In addition to this, online sharing of media files is a common form of digital piracy. Finally, online predators and human traffickers use the Internet to exploit children and vulnerable people.

A Typical Cybercrime Investigation

Most cybercrime investigations start with a citizen’s complaint. For example, a local police station receives a complaint about a fake Internet site that has scammed customers out of money. The cybercrime investigator would interview the victims, gather the facts and investigate the fake Internet site. This involves verifying the Internet protocol (IP) address of the fake site and then contacting the auction company that hosts the site. Most auction companies have their own security specialists who assist law enforcement with gaining access to the correlating Internet Service Provider (ISP). However, because ISPs host so many sites, they have limited data storage capacity. Therefore, investigators often send preservation letters that request the ISP to maintain the fake site’s data until they can obtain a subpoena or court order. If this is successful, then the investigator can properly probe into the fake Internet site and pursue the criminals.

Forensic Computer Analyst

Everyone is familiar with popular police procedural TV shows that feature tech savvy investigators who use science and technology to analyze computer based crimes. Forensic computer analysts work with local and state law enforcement agencies to investigate certain cybercrimes. For example, they often collect evidence for crimes involving scams, fraud and identity theft. Other forensic computer analysts directly analyze crime scenes, record observations, take photographs and collect technology evidence.

Cyber Intelligence Analyst

These professionals work within the intelligence community to evaluate and verify current threat data. They draft intelligence reports that provide a thorough analysis, possible implications and suggested courses of action. Some cyber intelligence analysts are assigned to specific criminal or foreign entities to scrutinize and prevent possible threats. Others work in digital forensics as computer forensic analysts. They gather digital evidence, analyst intrusion methods and create forensic representations of the cybercrime. Cyber intelligence analysts work for federal agencies, such as the FBI or CIA, and military branches, such as the army or navy.

Incidence Response Investigator

These IT professionals are the true cybercrime investigators. They are charged with responding to and handling urgent cyber threats, which go far beyond digital security. For example, cyber intrusions into public energy networks or the aviation industry could cause destruction of property and loss of life. These intrusion analysts follow established protocols to react to and contain major cyber threats.

Related Resource: Information Assurance

In summary, cybercrime is a prevalent problem facing America. As a result, there are excellent career opportunities available. The Department of Homeland Security maintains a cyber-security career center for aspiring cybercrime investigators.