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Matt is a graduate of the BSc (Hons) Computer Forensics course and is now working for SYTECH as a Digital Forensic Analyst.
Why did you decide to study computer forensics?
“I was looking for a change of career and thought computer forensics sounded very interesting. I wanted a career that was challenging and non-repetitive. During the practical tutorials in the dedicated forensic lab I began to really enjoy the topic, but when it really clicked for me was during my final year project. I became obsessed and would stay in the labs as late as I possibly could, often being asked to leave by campus security so that they could lock the building!”
Why did you decide to study at the University of South Wales?
“The University of South Wales has an outstanding reputation within the industry and I wanted to maximise the value of my degree. Had I not been able to study computer forensics at the University of South Wales, I would not have pursued a career in digital forensics.
“The University of South Wales works closely with the industry of digital forensics in creating its course content. Exposure to advanced forensic techniques such as CCTV reconstruction, forensic data recovery, and chip-off and J-TAG analysis provides students with skills vastly exceeding those of other institutions and a solid foundation upon which to build their careers.”
How did the course challenge and inspire you?
“Dr Huw Read is an excellent lecturer and instilled a new method of thinking within me. Digital forensics is about thinking outside the box, it’s looking at new devices and seeing beyond their hardware capabilities and understanding the functionalities available to the user. It’s about working around the challenges presented by security measures and providing solutions to complex problems. Trust me when I say that there is no greater feeling than that moment when you have overcome a significant challenge. Only when we push ourselves do we discover what we are truly capable of!”
Tell us a bit more about your research?
“My final year project involved creating a forensically sound method of analysing an 8th generation games console. I was given access to a dedicated postgraduate research lab and became obsessed with overcoming the challenges presented by the device. I established a method that does not alter any data during the analysis process. I was awarded a mark of 76% and invited by University lecturers to continue my research during the summer period. In October 2014, I submitted an academic paper at the Digital Forensics Research Conference (DFRWS) Europe’s largest digital forensics conference. In March of 2015, I became a published author and travelled to Ireland to present my work in front of over 200 attendees.”
What does the day-to-day role of a Digital Forensic Analyst entail?
“On a daily basis, I conduct both prosecution and defence examinations of embedded devices, such as mobile phones, tablets, Satellite Navigation Systems, games consoles, etc. The nature of the cases I am involved in range from indecent images of children to missing persons and murder investigations. The role also involves travelling around the country conducting on-site extractions of mobile devices and providing expert witness testimony in a court of law.”
How do you feel your course helped prepare you for your job at SYTECH?
“Although I enrolled on the MComp (Hons) Computer Forensics course offered by the University, I withdrew from the course early, as I was offered my position at SYTECH after graduating with the BSc (Hons) Computer Forensics. I now provide lectures at the University of South Wales to provide guidance on the skills required by industry.”
What are your next steps?
“The next step in my career is to undertake further study at the University of South Wales. I am currently in the process of preparing my PhD research proposal and aim to begin my studies in January of 2016. My aspirations are to make a significant impact in the field of digital forensics and for my name to stand for integrity, honesty and professionalism.”
What advice would you give to someone considering studying a degree?
“If you feel as though you are not ‘brainy’ enough, just remember that when I started out I didn’t have any qualifications, I was never any good in school and I’m dyslexic. Now, I’m a graduate, a published author, employed as a Digital Forensic Analyst at a fantastic organisation that believes in me and has faith in my abilities; so much so that they have offered to fund my PhD studies.”
Matt was interviewed by industry publication, Forensic Focus earlier in the year. Read the article to find out more about Matt’s research on the forensic analysis of a Sony PS4 and how he thinks the industry will evolve over the next few years.