Anne Arundel Community College was recently designated a National Center of Digital Forensics Academic Excellence (CDFAE) by the Defense Cyber Crime Center (DC3). AACC is the first institution in the nation to receive this designation.
What does this tell the many employers trying to meet the huge demand for skilled cyber forensics practitioners?
Students completing AACC’s now CDFAE-designated cyber forensics program are immediately ready for the workforce with proven capabilities to get the job done.
“Having the CDFAE designation will ensure employers that our students possess the hands-on ability to actually perform digital forensics incident response and are ready to hit the ground running from day one,” says Dawn Blanche, instructional specialist for AACC’s cyber program. “This means the initial training period for a new employee is considerably reduced.”
The CDFAE program seeks to develop a partnership between academia and the government to establish standards for educators and researchers to advance the discipline of Digital Forensics. The program further aims to increase the number of qualified professionals to meet the needs of law enforcement, counterintelligence, national defense and legal communities. By combining hands-on knowledge with theory and research, the program creates a clear progression between training and education in workforce development.
DC3 views this as a workforce development initiative, and hopes to be able to bring CDFAE graduates into critical positions, says Joshua Black, acting director, DC3/Defense Cyber Investigations Training Academy (DCITA). Black credits AACC with helping to move the CDFAE program forward, and says the need for highly skilled digital forensics practitioners far exceeds the current crop of workers.
“AACC is doing a great job and we could not be where we are without AACC’s help. The demand for tech smart people is high and there is still a lot to be done,” says Black.
What does the CDFAE offer students?
- Validation that their AACC education provides a standardized skill set and awareness of current issues facing digital forensic investigators and examiners.
- Eligibility to sit for the DC3-sponsored Cyber Incident Responder exam – a rigorous, three-part exam testing students in both knowledge-based and practical skills applications.
- Opportunity to be valued for their highly desirable and specialized skill sets.
What does the CDFAE offer prospective employers?
- Assurance that AACC’s program trains students in current techniques, skills and tools necessary for digital forensic examination of digital media, files, operating systems, devices, networks and applications for discovery and recovery of evidence.
- Knowledge that students also will have the aptitude to design, implement and evaluate systems, processes, components and programs to meet digital forensic needs, as well as have an appreciation of professional, ethical, legal, security and social responsibilities.
- Ability to hire employees with validated skill sets capable of being on task from day one and a clear understanding of the employee’s skills.
CDFAE designates educational organizations who have met the digital forensic education standard in eight specific knowledge domains based upon Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSA) utilized in the field. The eight knowledge domains represent well-rounded digital forensic education topics and individual learning objectives indicative of those topics. As a designated CDFAE, the AACC Digital Forensics program must provide structured, advanced academic capabilities in the digital forensic knowledge domains set forth for a community college curriculum while enhancing and providing supplemental support toward digital forensic objectives. This is accomplished by transitioning general knowledge areas to a specific topic application.