CSC Academy Teaches Digital Forensics
Client:Defense Cyber Investigations Training Academy (DCITA)
- Create the first federal institution exclusively dedicated to digital forensics training.
- Threat of computer intrusions on the rise.
- Design and teach more than 20 standards-based courses.
- Includes Introduction to Networks and Computer Hardware, Computer Search and Seizure and Deployable Forensics.
- More than 10,000 enrollments since the Academy’s inception.
- DCITA/CSC-trained investigators have gone on to solve crimes.
- Crimes solved both in the United States and around the world.
Today's Department of Defense computer sleuths graduate from the Defense Cyber Investigations Training Academy (DCITA), considered by many to be the top digital forensics school in the United States. CSC designs and teaches all of the academy's courses, while also providing a variety of technical, logistical and administrative services.
The techniques taught by CSC instructors at DCITA are used to track down and prosecute an array of criminals, from high-tech spies and terrorists to low-tech thieves and con artists. When a crime is committed against the security of DoD information systems, DCITA graduates gather the evidence later used by prosecutors in military and civilian courts.
“The partnership with CSC at DCITA is a model for success in the federal government,” says Raymond J. Kessenich, the academy’s former director. “CSC recognizes the importance of the mission and strives to provide a product which exceeds the needs of the customer. It is rewarding to observe the classroom interaction of government and corporate subject matter experts as they advance the field of digital forensics.”
A smart move
DCITA got its start in 1997 with the Defense Reform Initiative, which targeted the use of information technology to improve performance throughout the DoD. With the threat of computer intrusions on the rise, the DoD charged the U.S. Air Force to create the first federal institution exclusively dedicated to computer forensics training. The DoD colocated the fledgling program in Linthicum, Maryland, alongside the Defense Computer Forensics Laboratory, also newly created under the initiative. The Air Force assembled a faculty staffed by civilian experts and directed by members of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and Army Military Intelligence. In 1998, CSC put together DCITA’s first course, Introduction to Computer Search and Seizure. Ten years later, the small program has grown into an academy, featuring 23 unique courses and offering 128 iterations, of which seven have been approved for college credit by the American Council of Education.
Basic to advanced instruction
CSC develops the DCITA curriculum under a cost-reimbursable contract that allows the DoD the flexibility to add new courses as needed, according to changes in technology and crime. In the wake of 9/11, for example, CSC created the Deployable Forensics course to help agents perform cyber investigations in hostile territory. CSC also added the Large Data Set Acquisition course to address large network storage devices that, once rare, are now increasing in number and size. The curriculum is organized into training tracks that offer basic to advanced instruction. Students progress according to their proven skill level and training requirements. The foundation course of the program is the Introduction to Networks and Computer Hardware. Other classes teach investigators and computer specialists how to access hard drives and storage media to gather evidence without altering it or otherwise compromising its integrity. Students learn how to assess whether a computer intrusion has occurred and how to gather computer forensic evidence from a network. In all cases, students must be proficient in an array of languages and platforms, ranging from MS-DOS and Mac OS to GPS and cell phones.
Taking a byte out of crime
By the end of 2008, DCITA had trained more than 10,393 agents from organizations across
the DoD and federal government, including:
• Naval Criminal Investigative Service
• Army Military Intelligence
• Army Criminal Investigations Division
• Defense Computer Forensics Laboratory
• Defense Cyber Crime Institute
• Defense Criminal Investigative Service
• Federal Bureau of Investigation
• Secret Service
• Department of Homeland Security
According to Kessenich, DCITA graduates are called on to exploit digital information for all DoD investigations and operations, including the War on Terror. “From Special Forces teams on the ground in Afghanistan to NCIS special agents in Haditha, Iraq, DCITA-trained personnel are called on to perform in unprecedented conditions, with solid, credible results to be utilized in national security,criminal and counterintelligence concerns.”