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Venturing into computer forensics.

The College of San Mateo receny received the much-anticipated approval from the state of its Computer and Network Forensics Certificate and associate's-degree program.

CSM is the first community college in California to offer the certificate, degree and the certificate of completion options in computer forensics--all of which are available to students this fall. All three will prepare students for a variety of positions with law enforcement agencies, private security firms and corporations.

"This was an excellent example of CSM developing a cutting-edge program," said Grace Sonner, CSM's vice president of instruction. "A great deal of credit is owed to the dedicated faculty who, along with staff and administrators, made this happen."

"The program will attract a police officer interested in computers, or a computer programmer interested in law enforcement," said faculty member Martha Tilmann, who is a CSM computer science professor. "Or, it could be someone graduating from high school, looking for skills to enter an exciting, emerging field."

And there is interest Enrollment is encouraging in the two introductory computer forensics program classes.

As with the new program, CSM is constantly seeking degree and course offerings that have relevance in the employment market.

"With the intense national concern for safety following 9/11 and the growing use of digital evidence in civil and criminal cases, those with an education in computer forensics are becoming increasingly sought after by employers," Tilmann added.

CSM is also all about options and special community-college benefits.

Students interested in computer forensics can complete the fast-track, 13.5 unit certification of completion or receive more in-depth training with the certificate or two-year associate's-degree alternatives.

"In comparing training centers offering a similar program, people will discover just how affordable taking these courses at our college is," Tilmann said.

"The benefits of taking courses at CSM are many: students have access to available faculty; can take the semester-long courses in a time frame they choose, allowing them ample time to absorb the material; and will have the benefit of a supportive classroom environment in which to network and exchange ideas," added Robert Kowerski, dean of the math/science division at CSM.

Upon completion of CSM's program, a student will be able to discover, extract and preserve digital evidence consistent with computer forensic protocols in the industry.

"First, the incriminating information must be found on the computer or network system," said Tilmann, explaining the steps a computer forensics technician would take when pursuing a digital investigation. "Once found, the digital evidence is extracted and preserved in a manner that complies with legal protocol. Each step must follow precise procedures ensuring that the digital information does not get corrupted between the time the computer was seized and the evidence was secured."

Forensics program courses include: Computer Forensics; CF: Network Analysis & Defense; CF: Search and Seizure; Network Security Fundamentals; and Network Security Firewalls. They will be taught by CSM professors Ron Brown, Georgia Grant and Melissa Green, who worked with Tilmann in developing the program.

For more information about CSM's computer forensics program, e-mail or call (650) 574-6327.



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Author:Habeeb, Mike
Publication:Community College Week
Date:Nov 8, 2004
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