Computer Forensics and Сybersecurity: What’s the Difference?

February 15, 2023

In today’s post, I will explore the differences between cybersecurity and computer forensics, highlighting the key distinctions between the two as well as which one offers the better career opportunities.

Respective Goals: Prevention vs. Reaction

Cybersecurity is about prevention. That is stopping potential attacks by securing against attack threats. Think of it like securing your house from potential threats like being burgled. You can take a number of steps to ensure your home is secure. You can invest in quality locks for your doors and windows installed on alarm, maybe an alarm with 24/7 monitoring. You can buy a safe to put your valuables in. All of these measures will make it more difficult for anyone to break into your house and steal your valuables.

Computer forensics is about reaction. That is what to do when a failure in cyber security preventative measures occurs. So with our house example earlier a reaction would constitute what you would do after being burgled. Forensics would involve determining how the burglar managed to get in:

  • Did the door or window locks fail?
  • Did the burglar use some other way of getting it?
  • That is not immediately obvious?
  • What tools did the burglar use?
  • What did the burglar manage to steal?

Different Approaches: Protection Measures vs. Analyzing Protection Failures

Cybersecurity looks at protection to stop potential threats like protecting against information being stolen using security controls like using firewalls and using sophisticated monitoring systems to check for any weaknesses in the protective measures. Fixing these before hackers get a chance to exploit these weaknesses.

Computer forensics looks at the failures in the cybersecurity protective measures when these measures fail to protect. Computer forensic analysts will look for clues into why the failures occurred and whether it was Dante configurations, system failures to malware and viruses or maybe something else.

Different Data Protocols: Securing Sensitive Data vs. What Stole, By Who and How?

Cybersecurity is all about protecting an organization’s assets like sensitive information such as company data. Different techniques can be used from strong encryption to making sure only those people who are authorized to use the data have access. This is known as access control and it can ensure unauthorized people are kept out.

Computer forensics will look at the damage from an organization’s asset being compromised like what was stolen. Maybe it was sensitive data? Did data actually get deleted deliberately? Was malware planted? Who did the attack? Was it someone who works for the organization or a hacker from outside? How did they manage to get access? What tools did they use?

Career Choice

As a career choice I would pick cybersecurity but I’m biased as this is what I do and I’ve made a good career out of this as there is so much opportunity. Computer forensics is more specialized. Specialized careers can sometimes be competitive careers spending all that effort on study only to end up struggling to find a job can be heartbreaking. Instead why don’t you focus on combining them both?

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