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JALC Offers New Computer Forensics Degree

Computer Information Systems instructor Mark Rogers will assist in teaching computer forensics classes this fall, a new two-year degree program offered by John A. Logan College. (Logan Media Services file photo)

Computer Information Systems instructor Mark Rogers will assist in teaching computer forensics classes this fall, a new two-year degree program offered by John A. Logan College. (Logan Media Services file photo)

BY JOHN D. HOMAN
Logan Media Services

CARTERVILLE – Thanks to the collaboration of the Business and Criminal Justice departments, John A. Logan College students can now get their geek on and play a real-life forensic scientist like Abby from NCIS.

Logan has initiated a new two-year degree in computer forensics. Geared for those with a passion for computers, students will be asked to complete 67 credit hours, which include computer and criminal justice classes, as well as general studies.

“Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in this country,” said instructor Mark Rogers. “For that reason, there is a great need for businesses to hire people who can help solve some of the problems. There are attorneys, for example, who are interested in tracking their clients’ spouse’s online interaction in divorce cases. There are companies who need employees that can track what Web sites fellow employees surfed, how long they were active on a site and what search engines they used.”

In an article published in “Law Technology News” in May, it was reported that companies are “increasingly using computer forensics to investigate the who, what, where, when and why of data theft by departing employees.”

The article states that computer forensics “refers to the examination of digital devices, such as smartphones and laptops, and storage media, such as hard drives and thumb drives, in a forensically-sound manner that preserves the contents and operating systems of these devices while extracting information regarding file creation, deletion, modification and copying, and Internet and software application usage.

“Though the field of computer forensics is continually evolving, computer forensic experts are playing an increasingly integral role, the article states, in the trade secrets and business litigation landscape. It will not be long before litigants point to a company’s failure to undertake forensic investigations as a lack of reasonable diligence that can bar a trade secret’s claim.”

“Right now, we are expecting 15-to-18 students to be enrolled in the program this fall semester,” Rogers said. “And we only have 20 available computers. I really expect these numbers to grow. Once the word gets out that Logan is offering this two-year degree program, and is the only school south of Interstate 80 doing so, I can easily see our numbers rise to 65-to-70 in a couple of years. It might become such a hot program that students will have to pass a test just to qualify for enrollment, much like our nursing program.”

Rick Ellett, who heads the Criminal Justice department at JALC, said the newly created computer forensics program should prove beneficial for some students, especially those who are more savvy with technology.

“I think the program being offered is a nice blend of computer technology with criminal justice,” he said. “There are no guaranteed jobs out there today, but businesses and organizations do have a growing need for computer information system people who can help them protect their investments. That’s why it’s important to have a background in computer forensics.”

Ellett described the partnership as a “win/win situation for both our departments. I’m thrilled to death to be working together.”

Dr. Deborah Payne, Vice President for Instruction, said JALC is committed to providing programs that will allow its graduates to be employable in a new knowledge economy.

“We believe Computer Forensics is a growing field with many job options and opportunities for more specialized training,” Payne said. “Graduates will be able to assist in the investigation, analysis and preservation of information found in computers and digital storage media that can be used in legal proceedings and may earn salaries of $40,000 to $70,000 annually.”

Payne said Computer Forensics graduates may assist in the investigation of employee Internet abuse; unauthorized disclosure of corporate information and data (accidental and intentional); industrial espionage; damage assessment following an incident; criminal fraud and deception cases; and more general criminal cases in which information was stored on computers by employees intentionally or unwittingly.