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November/December 2009
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Computer Forensics Degree Programs

While the use of digital evidence is fairly common in contemporary criminal investigations, there are still relatively few degree programs in computer forensics. A new standard developed by ASTM International Committee E30 on Forensic Sciences provides a road map for post-secondary institutions to develop degree programs in computer forensics.

The new standard, E2678, Guide for Education and Training in Computer Forensics, is under the jurisdiction of Subcommittee E30.12 on Digital and Multimedia Evidence.

“E2678 attempts to improve and advance computer forensics through the development of model curricula consistent with other forensic science programs,” says Rhesa G. Gilliland, laboratory director, Digital Evidence Laboratory, Drug Enforcement Administration.

“Considering the amount of interest generated after the release of the National Academy of Sciences report, ‘Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward,’ the development of standards in the relatively new forensic discipline of digital and multimedia evidence is extremely important,” says Gilliland, who is co-chair of E30.12.

Gilliland says that E2678 was based on a research report funded by the National Institute of Justice through a grant to the West Virginia University Forensic Science Initiative and submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Topics covered in the new standard include alternative paths by which students may arrive at and move through professional training; formal educational programs of increasing length from associate degrees through graduate work; a framework for academic certificate programs offered by educational institutions; and model criteria and implementation approaches for training and continuing education opportunities provided by professional organizations, vendors and academic institutions.

All interested parties, particularly individuals working in the digital and multimedia evidence examination field, are welcome to participate in the ongoing activities of E30.12. The subcommittee is working with the Scientific Working Groups on Digital Evidence and Imaging Technology to develop proposed new standards.

CONTACT

Technical Information: Rhesa G. Gilliland, Drug Enforcement Administration, Lorton, Va.

Phone: 703-495-6578

ASTM Staff: Timothy Brooke

Phone: 610-832-9729