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Coping Strategies

Computer forensics discussion. Please ensure that your post is not better suited to one of the forums below (if it is, please post it there instead!)
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merlin403
Newbie
 

Re: Coping Strategies

Post Posted: Jun 12, 12 18:35

Hi Forensic Focus:

I'm new to the forums and just beginning my digital forensics career (still taking college classes).

I remember reading an article (and I'm not trying to start a gender debate) that discussed how in cases involving children (CP, child abuse, child molestation, ect ...) female officers typically had a more difficult time because women in general are more emotional. This is not to say that men aren't effected either.

Furthermore, officers who have a family (especially, those with young children) were found to be constantly looking over their shoulder for fear of what might happen to their own kids. This reaction stems from the cases they've been involed with at work.

I can see how a person's psychology would affected in each of the above scenerios.  
 
  

michael556
Member
 

Re: Coping Strategies

Post Posted: Oct 06, 12 06:35

Is that a result of some study? From some 'experts' in sex offences?

I can say off the bat it's something that eats away and ruins you over the years, if you're not mentally resilient enough to handle it. Some things you wouldn't forget as long as you live, upsetting thoughts you cannot get rid of. It goes much deeper than emotions. Are you really prepared for that?  
 
  

sometimeforensic
Newbie
 

Re: Coping Strategies

Post Posted: Nov 15, 12 17:57

- michael556
I can say off the bat it's something that eats away and ruins you over the years, if you're not mentally resilient enough to handle it. Some things you wouldn't forget as long as you live, upsetting thoughts you cannot get rid of. It goes much deeper than emotions. Are you really prepared for that?


Can absolutely vouch for that.

Regular counselling and support should be mandatory for anyone whose line of work brings them into contact with CP, regardless of whether or not you think you can handle it. And yes, if you don't think you can face such material (and who would blame you) be completely upfront about it.  
 
  

steve862
Senior Member
 

Re: Coping Strategies

Post Posted: Apr 19, 13 16:05

Hi,

I thought I would re-post in this thread as it is a major factor for those that are considering working in digital forensics. The massive increase in digital forensic degrees in the UK means more people looking to work in this field but I wonder how well these degrees are preparing those people for what lies ahead.

I've worked in digital forensics for nearly 10 years now and although I do some smartphone analysis it has been almost exclusively on the computer side. I've worked for a child protection high tech crime unit where we did lots of CP cases, grooming cases etc and I've worked for a 'general purpose' lab where we do murders, fraud, CP (as well) and all sorts of other crimes.

Here are my observations now I've had some more experience... (warning the points below are quite frank!)

• In computer analysis you aren't just extracting and explaining the provenance of data but you’re investigating. You are looking for elements of planning, you are looking at aggravating factors such as bragging about what they did. In essence you are studying the psyche of your suspect and seeing how dark some people can be and that can be very shocking.

• It doesn't have to be a child abuse related job to be disturbing. Murders, rapes and violent crimes can be very disturbing to investigate. Studying the final moments of your victim's life or reading about the circumstances of the crime has the potential to be heartbreaking if you cannot focus on what you need to do.

• Following on from that you might feel remorse for family left behind. You might wonder how they are getting along years later. I know of Police Officers who face this challenge and because you investigated the details of this case you could experience this too.

• If you go on scene attendances as well be prepared to walk in to some horrible places and be prepared to see anything and everything. There will be nauseating sights and smells. It's what traditional forensics people cope with as well as officers. You might not think of digital forensics as having this remit but it might well do if you work in LE.

• You will find it more difficult to have regular conversations with 'normal' people on some topics. They'll be talking about how terrible something they saw in the news was and you'll be thinking, that's nothing! Other people won't have the same experiences as you and therefore will have a different perspective. It's something to be aware of and not to get frustrated about.

• You will want to feel like these 'sacrifices' which you make were worth it and continue to be. If you make a difference it is very rewarding but if you find yourself getting bogged down in management structures and internal change management, which will inevitably happen, you will need to be aware of how you might feel you aren't achieving what you came into this field to achieve.

• You will need to be pretty flexible in terms of your personal life. Be prepared to cancel holidays in extreme circumstances because you are needed at court, they can't do it without you but unfortunately they forgot to warn you. Be prepared to work long hours from time to time, or be called in at a moment's notice for something urgent. The job is one of the most invasive jobs you can have.

• There can be no coasting in this career. Software versions keep changing. Different version, different artefacts, or even same artefacts but different interpretation. New hardware comes out and so on. Hopefully your employer will help to keep your skills up to date but be prepared to do your own research and make sure you are still giving every job your best, even if it's been a while since you last went on formal training.

I’ll call it quits there although there are other considerations.

Part of the reason I wrote this extra post was the talk about the things I’ve felt from time to time and observed in others as well. My experiences are different now than they were at the beginning and even 2-3 years in.

The big questions then is, is this job worth it? Well for me it is and I can see me staying in this field and mostly likely within LE until I retire. Is it worth it for you? Only you can answer that question but maybe some of these comments will help you make that decision.

Steve
_________________
Forensic Computer Examiner, London, UK 
 
  

lasvegascop
Senior Member
 

Re: Coping Strategies

Post Posted: Sep 06, 13 04:44

Wow.. this is an old thread.. but a great topic.

I was assigned to the children sexual abuse detail in 1997 and then started in computer forensics in the late 1998-99 and created the Las Vegas Metro Police Departments ICAC unit as well as helped create the FBI/LVMPD Innocent Images Task Force.
As a matter of protocol the FBI sent us for regular psych exams. After a few years I left the ICAC unit to create a Computer Forensics unit that did all the exams except ICAC related cases. Soon after that the ICAC and ECU joined forces again and I began doing CP cases but I wasn't eligible for the psych exams. I continued with examining CP cases for many years until my retirement in 2012.. Not for mental reasons either.. I saw u thinking that.

My supervisor in the ICAC unit in the late 90s early 2000s was a working supervisor and he was constantly subject to CP also. We had different ways of viewing CP.
I would see the picture bookmark it and move on.
He would try to memorize the face, put together the series in his mind, memorize the age, name, and as much as he possibly could about the images.
He knew all the series names and all the info about them.
He burned out quickly to the point of having nightmares about those children and his own.

In my opinion, it takes a special personality to constantly view CP but you can't, or shouldn't, try to concentrate on it to hard or memorize it. You know what CP is, book mark it and move on.  
 
  

Garethb
Member
 

Re: Coping Strategies

Post Posted: Sep 06, 13 14:43

- steve862


• You will want to feel like these 'sacrifices' which you make were worth it and continue to be. If you make a difference it is very rewarding but if you find yourself getting bogged down in management structures and internal change management, which will inevitably happen, you will need to be aware of how you might feel you aren't achieving what you came into this field to achieve.

• You will need to be pretty flexible in terms of your personal life. Be prepared to cancel holidays in extreme circumstances because you are needed at court, they can't do it without you but unfortunately they forgot to warn you. Be prepared to work long hours from time to time, or be called in at a moment's notice for something urgent. The job is one of the most invasive jobs you can have.


I do not post here often so apologies if anyone feels I am jumping in a bit but this is a very interesting and valuable topic for people looking at a DF career so I thought I would add something!

Steve I think your post is excellent but I quoted a couple of points just to add my perspective from working in LE for 5 years but having now moved to something more corporate.
The first point I couldn't agree more with and whilst I cannot speak for all police forces in the UK this was part of my decision to leave the HTCU I worked for. It has got to the point now that the IIOC (Indecent Images of Children) work is so overwhelming in quantity and scale that management are primarily interested in number massaging and backlog decreasing, by any method. This has developed a purely sausage factory esque approach to IIOC cases, where the minimum to achieve a basic prosecution is found and in some cases nothing more. Whilst I understand the need to get backlogs down and speed up the investigation process, this is not something I was comfortable with or was willing to be part of anymore. I am not suggesting that this happens in all cases and I have no doubt that those with solid intelligence involving distribution, contact offences etc are thoroughly investigated. However it is my personal view that many offences are being missed, through no fault of the examiner/investigator, purely because of a desire to make the numbers look better.

The second point I believe is also very valid, however from my experience I never had to cancel leave/holidays due to court commitments. Anything were the DF was integral (i.e. all IIOC cases) I was always involved in the court process from fairly early on so I expected to be needed if a not guilty plea is entered and was warned accordingly. This is not to say that last minute calls to court couldn’t force the cancellation of leave/holidays but I just wanted to point out that in my experience this never happened so should not be a major factor in dissuading someone from a DF career (if it may do that). Obviously I could just have been lucky Very Happy

In general I never had issues with investigating IIOC cases but obviously everyone is different. I found the work interesting and often very rewarding. I will say though that I am glad I no longer deal with them, although I would not rule out investigating them in the future but maybe on a more limited scale to what the police have to deal with.  
 
  

Bobbynyc
Member
 

Re: Coping Strategies

Post Posted: May 14, 14 18:39

over 8 years doing it and never went once..


Not worth the issues and stigma it will cause with the job.. It is a career ender for sure.

I couldn't tell you if I have any issues related to it beyond the normal mistrusting of people with my kids..

EG we have prosecuted several boy scout leaders so that leads me to never putting my kids in scouts.

Just isn't worth the risk for me or my kids..

By my friend and coworker has his in scouts another co worker was an eagle scout.

I try to put this stuff in its place.
Some cases are tough and can get me emotional. I think looking at over 17k of picks in one case has brought me to tears more than 2 or 3 times. You take the break and walk away..

Someone has to do it, right ?  
 

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