Digital Forensics Certifications

With the increasing demand for qualified personnel to participate in forensic investigations, involving cellular telephones, computer systems, networks, personal digital assistants (PDAs), smartphones, portable storage devices, and other electronic devices, there has been a proliferation of certificate and degree programmes offered by educational institutions, professional certifications offered by digital forensic organisations, and last but not least certifications from product vendors.

This article will address various certifications commonly expected of digital forensic and e-discovery practitioners. To keep the material timely and relevant there will be updates published on an irregular basis.

CompTIA A+ [ http://www.comptia.org ]

The CompTIA A+ certification is an entry-level certification targeted to technicians typically performing maintenance and repair activities for personal computers, including those involved in forensic investigation. This certification track is commonly required by manufacturers and service centers as well as some of the more specialized employment situations such as forensic examination and investigation within certain organizations.  CompTIA A+ is important due to its vendor neutrality which means the person earns a credential that is transferable to any computer hardware encountered on the job and provides a solid foundation upon which to build.

To obtain this certification it is necessary to pass two examinations – the first exam (A+ Core Hardware Service Technician) covers hardware (Intel iAPx86-compatible) and the second exam (A+ Operating Systems Technologies) covers the operating system software (Microsoft DOS and Windows).  The A+ Core Hardware Service Technician exam (220-301) addresses basic computer concepts, hardware troubleshooting, customer service, and hardware upgrading.  The A+ Operating Systems Technologies exam (220-302) addresses the Microsoft Disk Operating System (DOS) and Microsoft Windows operating systems.  The CompTIA A+ certification is not awarded until both examinations have been successfully completed. There are a variety of training options available to those interested in pursuing this certification track.  Before writing the certification examinations it is recommended the student take a formal classroom instructor-led course (505 – Operating System, 515 – Hardware) or avail themselves of the multitude of self-study materials. The CompTIA A+ certification is valid for the lifetime of the holder and does not have an annual or on-going re-certification requirement.

Certification benefits the holder in the following ways:

  • objectively demonstrates proof of professional achievement;
  • increases employment marketability;
  • increases employment opportunities through career advancement;
  • serves as foundational training for other professional training; and
  • raises customer or client confidence.
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