BU introduces major in computer forensics

BU introduces major in computer forensics

For Immediate Release

Date:  August 24, 2006

 

BLOOMSBURG—Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania is introducing a new major this fall that will train students to investigate the improper or illegal use of computers and digital devices, a field known as computer forensics.

Computer forensics focuses on collecting, examining and presenting digitally stored evidence in criminal and civil investigations. Graduates from BU’s program will be able to work in local, state and federal law enforcement; government agencies, such as NASA and U.S. Postal Service; and corporate settings. 

Scott Inch, professor of mathematics, computer science and statistics, investigated the possibility of offering a major after the idea was discussed at a department meeting, based on the popularity of the television show, “CSI.” 

Although about 100 colleges and universities offer undergraduate and graduate courses in digital forensics, only a few offer a major, according to recent article in USA Today. BU is the only institution in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education to offer the computer forensics major.

Inch said employment demand for individuals with these skills has increased during the past several years. The FBI, for example, handled 9,500 computer forensics cases in 2005, compared with the 3,600 in 2000. 

“We’ve trained with state, local and federal law enforcement officials and they all say the country needs more people with these skills, that everyone is understaffed,” Inch said.

Corporations hire computer forensic professionals to determine if employees are using computers for activities that violate company policy. Although these actions may not be illegal, they are not in the company’s best interest.

“Some actions could include running a business from a company computer, stealing trade secrets and downloading pornography,” said Inch. “Although not necessarily illegal, they are against company policy.”

Inch mentioned that officers in the Pennsylvania State Police’s computer forensics department spend 90 percent of their time investigating child pornography cases.  

“The use of digital media is showing up in all cases, not just traditional computer cases. If any form of digital media is used in a crime, such as cell phones and digital cameras, computer forensics can be used,” Inch said. 

James Pomfret, professor of: mathematics, computer science and statistics, discussed the computer forensics major with BU’s Council of Trustees in November 2005. After the Trustees recommended approval, the proposal moved to the PASSHE Board of Governors, which approved the major in April 2006.

For more information, contact the department of mathematics, computer science and statistics at (570) 389-4500 or visit the department Web site at http://www.bloomu.edu/admin/acad/mat/ and follow the link for computer forensics.

Bloomsburg University is one of 14 universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. The university serves approximately 8,000 students and offers 58 bachelor’s, 16 master’s and one doctoral degree.

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