Case study

Digital forensic analyst — George Hulse

Studying a computer forensics degree gave George direct entry into his career, where he enjoys the challenges of varied casework

How did you get your job?

I applied for my job at Sytech Digital Forensics directly by email after finding the company on a list of suggested companies put together by my university.

What are your main work activities?

Currently, I spend most of my day doing pre-analysis which involves running images through forensics software like EnCase, Griffeye, and Axiom. This is to extract the relevant data and prepare it for review.

Previously, I worked as a pre-imager and imager. Pre-imaging consists of photographing and removing storage devices from exhibits sent to us from clients, as well as recording details of the exhibits. Imaging is where the forensic images are created which are then used throughout the case.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I enjoy the constant challenges presented by the varied casework, such as broken hard drives, VMs, Raids, or new types of encryption to get around - there is always something new to deal with.

The open and friendly nature of the office makes it a nice environment to work in. Everyone has different areas of expertise, so you can share knowledge and learn from others.

What are the challenges?

Certain older standards, like SCZI and IDE hard drives and Windows tablets, can cause problems when I try to image them. Other challenges relate to the encryption aspect of the work, meeting specific client requests and getting to grips with new emerging technologies.

How relevant is your degree to your job?

My BSc in computer forensics is directly relevant to my current job and it would be extremely hard to do the job without the degree.

Learning how to use forensic software as part of my degree was an important part of the preparation for a career in this field. Plus, many of the modules I studied relate to the work I now do, for example, learning about hard drive repair.

How has your role developed and what are your ambitions?

My first role at Sytech was as a pre-imager and imager. Now, I have moved into processing. After this, the other stages are data categorisations and report writing, which is the final stage and the one that I am aiming for.

Any words of advice for someone looking to get into this job?

A little bit of Linux and Windows Power Shell knowledge goes a long way, as well as a good working understanding of the components that make up a computer and how to fix them.

Good report-writing skills and the ability to travel or relocate to the job are important too. When you're job hunting, use specialist recruitment sites such as Forensic Focus and make sure you have a good LinkedIn profile.

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