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If you want to become a digital forensic expert, be aware that when entering the field, you will be presented with an abundance of information that you will not know. It is a wonderfully challenging career path. Some believe that having the title of a cybersecurity professional (e.g. digital forensics expert, cybersecurity analyst, incident response commander, etc.) means that this is an area where the field of knowledge is intimidating because it’s so expansive. Fortunately, novices who enter this field may already know the majority of information needed to begin the career.

For individuals who are seasoned IT/IS professionals, it is common for them to transition into a position in the cybersecurity field as they have a basis of understanding that will allow them to evolve accordingly. As we enter 2020, the demand for cybersecurity professionals is extremely high in order to combat current and future cyber events and breaches. Here are some tips on how you can get started in the field of digital forensics.

Education and Certifications For Digital Forensic Careers

The educational resources and certifications that are available for individuals who want to become a cybersecurity professional are quite extensive. But they can also be pricey. Education, cross-training with cybersecurity professionals, and on-hand training on your own time through various programs may assist in getting your foot in the door in digital forensics and provide a pathway to obtain certifications. If on-hand training on your own time is preferred, keep in mind that these programs may take anywhere from six months to a few years to complete and will require dedication, motivation, prioritization, and discipline.

For reference, I have listed two websites below that you can use for these purposes:

  • Cybrary
    • Insider
      • Price: Free
      • Learn: Introductory Classes and Supplemental Materials
      • Hands-On Learning: NIST-Aligned Work Role Assessments
      • Reporting: Learning Transcript and Data Export
      • Customer Success: Live-Chat
    • Insider Pro
      • Price: $49/month or $299/year
      • Learn: Introductory Classes, Entire Course Catalog, Supplemental Materials, Cybrary Live, and NIST-Aligned Learning Paths
      • Hands-On Learning: NIST-Aligned Work Role Assessments, Certification Practice Exams, Virtual Interactive Labs, Skills Assessments, and Capture-the-Flag Assessments
      • Reporting: Learning Transcript and Data Export, Data Export, and Skills Proficiency Reporting
      • Customer Success: Live-Chat and Community Mentors
    • Business
      • Price: Schedule a demo and determine pricing
      • Learn: Introductory Classes, Entire Course Catalog, Supplemental Materials, Cybrary Live, NIST-Aligned Learning Paths, DoD 8140 Learning Paths, and Custom Learning Paths
      • Hands-On Learning: NIST-Aligned Work Role Assessments, Certification Practice Exams, Virtual Interactive Labs, Skills Assessments, and Capture-the-Flag Assessments
      • Reporting: Learning Transcript and Data Export, Data Export, and Skills Proficiency Reporting, Usage and Curriculum Analytics, Organization Dashboards, Schedule Reports
      • Customer Success: Live-Chat and Dedicated Success Manager
  • PluralSight
    • Personal
      • Price: $29/month or $299/year
      • Plan includes:
        • Course library
        • Learning Paths
        • Channels
        • Skill/Role IQ
        • Course Learning Checks
        • Course Discussions
        • Exercise Files
        • Mobile and TV Apps
        • Offline Viewing
    • Business
      • Price: $449/year
      • Plan includes:
        • All Personal Features
        • Certification Practice Exams
        • Interactive Courses
        • Projects

If you are a seasoned IT/IS professional looking into the cybersecurity realm, knock out some free incident response courses along with some digital forensic and evidence-handling classes.

The Importance of Collaboration

It is now common for companies to determine whether or not they will hire you based on your personality and how well you will fit in with the team. That being said, you may have a lengthy list of education and certifications on your resume, but none of it will matter if you are unable to work with a team. It is critical as a cybersecurity professional to be transparent, live by integrity and ethics, and remove the ego that may come with the knowledge you possess. Another trait that may be high on a company’s list is the ability to have a battle rhythm response. How well can you handle a cyber event or breach? Will you approach it calmly and make the right call? How will you handle any incident that may result in compromised data?

I believe that you should train like you fight and fight like you train. When applicable, train and approach obstacles or events from a cybersecurity perspective. Some progress is better than no progress.


Ricoh DanielsonAbout the Author: Ricoh Danielson is a U.S. Army Combat Veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. As a digital forensic expert in cell phone forensics for high profile criminal and civil cases, Ricoh has a heavy passion for Cyber Security Digital Forensic and Incident Response that led him to start up his firm (Fortitude Tech LLC) in the middle of law school to become Phoenix’s and nationwide heavy hitting digital forensic powerhouse. Ricoh now owns 1st Responder focusing on helping small to large businesses with incident response.

He is also a graduate of Thomas Jefferson School of Law, Colorado Tech University, and UCLA Anderson School of Management. 

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this guest author article are solely those of the contributor, and do not necessarily reflect those of Tripwire, Inc.