What Careers are in Cybercrime Investigation?

Advances in technology have changed the way we look at corporate, individual and governmental assets and have resulted in a number of career opportunities in cybercrime investigation. Before the technology revolution of the last few decades, the major assets of industry and of governments lay in their physical attributes like property, mineral rights and water. Our economic system is heavily dependent upon these physical assets. The stock market reflects the value we place on them and is a necessary component of society. Attempts to disrupt or control organizations were made by attacking the actual assets. Now that the information about these assets is digitally collected and stored, however, attacks are more frequently made though computer systems. Because many individuals have computers, an average of 68 percent of households have computers that are connected to the Internet in the US, attacks on data systems can devastate even private individuals. In answer to the growing threat governmental agencies, law enforcement and even private companies have created jobs in cybercrime investigation.

What is Cybercrime?

According to the FBI, this type of crime costs several billions of dollars every year to recover data and repair systems. it is an intrusion into data storage systems that can corrupt the operations of vital services like 911, hospitals, banks and virtually all of industry and governmental agencies. The perpetrators of cybercrime range from computer “geeks” who just want the thrill of being able to cause disruption, to criminals who divert and alter data for economic gain and terrorists who seek to paralyze the infrastructures of countries.

Governmental Lead in Investigating Cybercrime

Since 2002 the major agency dealing with the investigation and prevention of this type of crime in the US and globally has been the Federal Bureau of Investigation. There are three basic divisions of employment dealing with computer crime in the FBI. Computer Forensic Examiners recover data stored on the computers of criminals and terrorists. They help in the apprehension and prosecution of people involved in financial crimes, in the sexual exploitation of children and others, and in those who compromise governmental systems. They usually work in one of the regional FBI laboratories and often partner with state and local law enforcement. The FBI also employs computer scientists to design and improve security computer systems and to recognize the “signatures” of computer criminals. A third group of investigators actually travel to the scenes of cybercrime. These investigators are organized into teams that can be mobilized quickly to “monitor, pursue and apprehend criminals and terrorists.” They examine the crime scene and use data retrieval and forensics methods to assist in the investigations. The salaries for these jobs vary because of the GS level required and the necessity of the team members to become “special agents.” All applicants for the jobs must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in computer science.

Private Sector Jobs

There are, of course, jobs in local and state law enforcement dealing with cybercrime as well. Private consultants have also emerged, working independently or with computer security companies. Indeed.com lists several of these. Here are a couple of examples. A private security company has an opening for a “Cyberthreat Intelligence Analyst” whose job it is to analyze the risk of cyber-attacks on computer systems and to develop recommendations for securing data. They also monitor and verify the trends in criminal computer activity. There is no salary indicated for the job, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics gives a range from the upper forty thousand dollars to $117,000 for computer forensics specialists. Another job listed on the Indeed website is for a DCC investigator employed by the Sears Management Corporation to review and analyze employee expense data such as travel to identify fraud.

Related Resource: Crime Lab Analyst

Although international cybercrime is addressed by the Department of Defense and the FBI, private sector industry employs investigators to ward off not only cyberattacks from competing businesses but fraud perpetrated internally. The global use of digital data storage has led virtually every government and business, not to mention individuals, vulnerable to fraud such as identity theft and crime such as the hacking of entire economic and political systems. The job outlook for careers in cybercrime investigation is very bright.