Implementing a Digital Forensics Lab in Education

Contributed by Steve Scott

Cybercrime is and has been on the rise for several decades and a rise in this specific criminal activity is only expected to continue. This increase in cybercrime activity results in a need for specially trained investigators. Individuals specially trained to retrieve information from computers or other digital devices are known as digital forensics investigators. These types of investigators require training that is somewhat more comprehensive than that of the typical information technology student. Training a digital forensics investigator requires hands on experience with actual equipment in addition to traditional training methods of theory and testing. Hands on training can be accomplished through the construction and management of a student lab built specifically for digital forensic investigative training. There are many things to consider when constructing a lab. Two of the largest expenses when outfitting a student lab are the software and hardware to be used. The type of investigative software to be used is typically the first consideration as the software’s system hardware requirements will be the driver for the type of workstation that will be used. A lab can be outfitted with varying different software solutions that range from commercial investigative suites to free command line tools. In much the same way, the forensic workstations that will be running the software can be vendor supplied standalone units or can be built with individual components in house. Both of these decisions are most likely driven by monetary constraints in an educational setting. There are also a multitude of other particulars that must be considered such as lab location, peripherals and network topography as well as others. The successful construction and management of a student lab can be a daunting endeavor but can be accomplished even with a small budget so long as focus remains on student success.

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