In this third episode of the “Strengthening the Forensic Workforce” season of the National Institute of Justice’s (NIJ’s) Just Science podcast series, Dr. Mark McCoy, Professor and Administrator of the Digital Evidence and Cyber Security Program at the University of Central Oklahoma Forensic Science Institute, and Josh Brunty, an Associate Professor of Digital Forensics in the School of Forensic & Criminal Justice Sciences at Marshall University, discuss the field of digital forensics, the importance of research and collaboration, and the development of dynamic academic programs.
An introductory note indicates that digital forensics is still viewed as one of the newer forensic science disciplines; however, it is rapidly growing. With devices from smart refrigerators to video game consoles constantly collecting user data, the science of digital forensics must be prepared to pivot with every software update and additional devices coming to the market. Dr. McCoy and Professor Brunty discuss digital forensics compared with cyber security, careers and research opportunities for those with strong computer science backgrounds, and an outlook for the field of digital forensics. The universities represented by McCoy and Brunty have accredited digital forensics programs. McCoy defines “digital forensics” as the “preservation, extraction, and analyzing data found on digital devices.” They then discuss how to maintain updated knowledge of the rapid advancement and variation in digital devices coming on the market and how they are being used. In portraying the nature of digital forensics, Brunty views it as collecting and interpreting evidence contained within various digital devices. McCoy adds that it is the collection and preservation of such data that may be used in some kind of administrative or criminal proceeding. The interview also addresses the knowledge and training required to be proficient in digital forensics, the features of the digital forensics courses being taught at the universities of McCoy and Brunty, and the features of a digital forensic crime laboratory.