Computer security is a fast developing area within Forensic Services. The work involves close contact with lawyers, commercial organisations and investigation agencies. Issues may involve fraud, child pornography, terrorism and ID theft.
Both mathematicians and computer scientists are recruited. There is a good market for penetration testing skills in finance, e-commerce and national security organisations.
- Police Forces.
- Government Agencies (Customs and Excise, DTI, Serious Fraud Office)
- Government intelligence services, including GCHQ
- Specialist Forensic Computing firms
- Software developers producing encryption software
- IT security and corporate investigation companies
- Large chartered accountancy firms
- Banks and credit card companies
Where are the jobs?
- Forensic IT
- Computer security
- Forensic accounting
- Expert decision making systems (e.g. Fair Isaac Co)
- Software development involving data compression and encryption or working with big data sets
- Network software development in the telecoms industry
- The computer games industry
Cryptography (also called cryptology) is the practice of hiding information.
Cryptography is used in:
- Mobile phone companies such as RIM (BlackBerry) encrypt all e-mail messages
- Banking (chip and PIN); secure online payment, security aspects of plastic cards: usually direct entry rather than through the graduate training scheme
- The Internet (protecting transaction details using SSL and SSH)
- Corporate computer security
- Home computing (Windows and operating systems such as Linux contain cryptographic algorithms)
- Satellite TV: Sky encrypts all its subscription channels.
Biometrics is the science of identifying humans based on a fingerprint, voice pattern, retinal scan or other bodily characteristics. Devices that use biometrics include fingerprint readers, voice pattern recognition, facial recognition and retinal pattern identification systems.
Identity fraud is rapidly increasing, driving forward the biometrics industry. Biometrics identification is inherently more secure than passwords and other identification methods: your password could be hacked, or your credit card stolen, but biometrics allows the system to know with certainty who is using it. Fingerprints have a long standing link with identity protection and are seen as a reliable way of identifying individuals. People are adding biometric readers to computers and theft-prone mobile devices to provide quick and easy system access.
Biometrics is most used in the field of security, to produce effective security networks and is becoming mainstream, proving itself as a convenient and secure method of user identification. It is likely to be a high growth area with a range of well paid new jobs.
Who employs biometricians?
The consumer market has the most potential.
What jobs are available for biometricians?
Biometrics involves many different technologies from optics to algorithms so jobs are available to grads in many IT fields including:
- Software engineers
- Security architects
- Artificial intelligence
- Computer vision
- Device drivers
- Hardware technicians to diagnose and troubleshoot biometrics readers in the field.
- There are also jobs in sales support, marketing, product management and product development.
Common employer categories
- Government intelligence services including GCHQ
- IT Software developers producing encryption software
- Information security consultancies
- Professional Services firms providing technology security services, e.g. the Technology Assurance and Advisory teams at Deloitte
- Banks and credit card companies for pins and websites and other areas where ncrypted data is needed. Data security is a big issue for many organisations, especially banks. Also electronic signature services such as Verisign.
- IT end-users where encrypted data is needed, e.g. finance companies
- IT consultancies
- Telecommunications firms
- Broadcasting companies.
- GCHQ - provides specialist advice to help safeguard government communications systems and helps counter international terrorism and crime. Information Assurance. Have a well established route for Mathematicians wanting to work in cryptography, case studies for mathematicians on their web site.
BBC article on GCHQ
- Security Service (MI5) Recruit IT Security Specialists. See Government intelligence services
- Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). See Government intelligence services
- Serious Fraud Office - investigates major fraud of all kinds and it employs its own specialist IT staff.
- GCHQ and MI6 are the main employers for mathematical cryptology.
- The National Crime Agency - co-ordinates the investigation of crimes against IT systems (e.g. hacking) and crimes involving the use of IT (e.g. fraud, blackmail, pedophilia). NCA employs over 4,200 staff. Relevant qualifications include the EnCE, OCA and MCP
- BAE SYSTEMS - recruit graduates into cyber security each year security business.
- Deloitte - have Technology Assurance and Advisory teams, plus information & technology risk. Graduate scheme for security and privacy. Also do cryptography.
- Price Waterhouse Coopers - have a Forensic Technology Solutions section which specialises in the forensic capture and analysis of electronic data. The Forensic Services department investigates financial crime (including fraud, money laundering and false accounting) and provides litigation support to clients involved in commercial disputes. The FTS team gathers, interprets, and provides in-depth analysis on large volumes of data. They capture data using evidentially sound processes, which means that the data can be relied upon in court if necessary. Extensive travel within and outside the UK is often required.
- Barclays Graduates - Technology
- Siemens Insight Consulting - security and compliance solutions.part of Siemens Communications
- IntaForensics - UK digital forensic company. provides independent Computer Forensics, Expert Witness, Mobile Phone Forensics, and Forensic Data Recovery to the legal sector, police forces, local authorities and commercial organisations internationally. Regularly features jobs of interest to graduates. Also features blogs by forensics experts.
Data security companies
- Ibas - Data Security company
- Portcullis - company specialising in computer security
- Sophos - IT security and control
Find out more
Further information on cryptography
- International Association for Cryptology - also has jobs in cryptology
- Maths Careers: Encryption
- Cryptology Skill Set and Career Prospects
- Cryptography as a career
Other Sources of Information
- Information Assurance Advisory Council - broad-based group concerned with minimising threats to the UK's IT infrastructure, and its website at lists its member-organisations, which include private companies, government agencies and academic research centres.
- Intellect - trade association for the UK IT industry and it provides the secretariat for SAINT; the Security Alliance for Internet and New Technologies.
- Internet Crime Forum - brings together organisations concerned with the prevention of criminal use of the internet.
- British Computer Society has an Information Specialists Security Group
- Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) - government body responsible for coordinating the response to threats to the IT infrastructure.
- IT Jobs Watch - ethical hacking page
- Forensic Computing Practice - specialise in recruitment to Information Security, Forensic Computing and Forensic Accounting
- Cyber Security Challenge - series of national online games and competitions that will test the cyber security abilities of individuals and teams from every walk of life. Designed to excite and inspire anyone considering a career in the cyber security industry and identify individuals capable of becoming part of the UK's cyber security profession
Also has information on cyber security job roles
- Inside Careers Cyber Security The rising demand for cyber security expertise in the UK presents an opportunity for graduates to build a career in an emerging field.
- Wired: How Digital Detectives Deciphered Stuxnet, the Most Menacing Malware in History
- Cyber security vacancies double in response to hacking threat
- New UK qualification in cyber security introduced
- University of Kent: Cyber Security
- Royal Holloway (London University) MSc in Mathematics of Cryptography and Communications - long established and a leader in the field.
- Dublin City University: MSc in Security and Forensic Computing
- MSc Advanced Security and Digital Forensics - Napier University by distance learning
- Macquarie University in Australia and Chicago University also have courses.