Demand Grows for Computer Forensics Class

Article excerpt

The murderer thinks he's clever and paints over the blood stains on the wall. But the police forensics team goes in with an infrared light and the stains show up clear as day -- gotcha.

Similarly, criminals often think that reformatting the hard drive of their computer will erase any evidence of wrongdoing. But the Oklahoma City Downtown College Consortium, partnering with Redlands Community College, is teaching members of law enforcement and others how to find evidence that is not immediately visible but still there just the same.

Redlands Community College in El Reno was the first school in the nation to offer a two-year degree program in forensic computer science. The program was so popular, the Downtown College Consortium is now offering the class for a third semester, and the waiting list gets longer by the day.

"There's really no such thing as delete," said Joel Drury, director of the consortium. "You can run, but you can't hide." As the field of computer forensics develops, it is having much the same impact on the criminal justice system as DNA technology has, Drury said.

"We've had some law enforcement personnel, some from the SEC take the courses and use them in their job," Drury said. "This is helping put bad guys away."

Major corporations that use electronic files may also have employees trained in computer forensics in order to find out the vulnerabilities of their computer systems and thus learn to protect their information better, he said. Businesses can also use the training to uncover what their own employees are doing with company computers.

Graduates of the course may go on to pursue a degree in criminal justice or specialize in corporate investigations and litigation support. Graduates may also serve as expert witnesses in court cases or go into business for themselves as private consultants.

"Espionage, computer fraud, child pornography, privacy intrusion, embezzlement, narcotics trafficking and terrorism flourish today on the Internet and are `hidden' inside computers around the world," reads a course description for the program. …