Digital Forensic Analysts can make a real difference

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Jay Murphy graduated from the BSc (Hons) Computer Forensics degree and now works as a Digital Forensic Analyst at Sytech in their Newport office. He shares his experience of both studying and working in this rapidly-changing field and provides advice for others interested in this area.

Why did you decide to study this area of computing?

I saw a documentary on the issues caused by sex tourism in countries such as Thailand and Cambodia. The documentary featured digital forensic investigators (DFIs) recovering evidence of child abuse from electronic devices. This evidence was then prepared for court as admissible evidence to secure convictions, putting these dangerous predators behind bars. Watching this programme had a profound impact on me. I saw that USW ran a forensic computing course and I immediately picked up the phone and arranged a meeting with the course leader. Not much longer after that, I was enrolled on the course!”

What valuable skills did you develop during your studies at University?
The course at USW really is cutting edge. The modules are carefully selected to equip you with the skills and knowledge you need to break into the digital forensics industry.
Computer forensics is all about accuracy and attention to detail and this is instilled in you early on! The Forensic Digital Evidence and Advanced Digital Forensic Techniques modules gave me practical skills, so I had the confidence and competency to handle and process evidence. You will learn how to secure a crime scene and how to present your findings in court, as well as the forensic methodologies that underpin the whole process. I have always been interested in computers so studying was a real labour of love for me. Making the journey with like-minded people is a very satisfying experience and you will make friends for life.”

Tell us about your current job at Sytech
I am a Digital Forensics Analyst based at our South Wales office in Newport. My main responsibilities include the photographing, processing and forensic cloning of digital devices that are suspected to have been used in crimes. After this is completed, I use state-of-the-art digital forensic tools to extract and analyse any case notable evidence. I then create a witness statement reporting my findings to the officer in charge of the investigation.

No two days are the same and it’s this variety that I most enjoy about the job. Sytech is a great company to work for and they have just secured the largest digital forensic tender in the UK. From your first day, you are given a huge amount of responsibility. It really is a job where you can make a difference and the company has faith and trust in your capabilities as an individual. There are quite a few graduates from USW working at Sytech as the course is so highly respected.

What are your next steps?
I have recently completed my first investigation from start to finish. I am looking forward to working on more complex cases in the future and making my first appearance in court as an expert witness. I hope to receive additional courtroom training in the months to come and will be honing my report writing skills on future cases.

Do you have any advice for anyone considering studying this area of computing?

I had reservations about studying at higher education level at the ripe old age of 29. During the weeks leading up to enrolment I would have never dreamed that I would have graduated with a first-class Honours degree. After a few weeks in, I found out that I had the full support of the excellent lecturers at USW and my reservations disappeared. My best piece of advice is to make the most of your spare time and keep yourself immersed in the world of technology as digital forensics is a fluid and constantly changing discipline. Advances in technology can have a huge impact on your next investigation.”