Monday, 14 February 2011

Rise of the smartphone

In his latest excellent blog posting, Eric Huber talks about the emergence of smartphones.  Eric is always interesting to read, but in particular, the following paragraph caught my attention:
"This past week I learned that a research group has reported that smart phones are outselling personal computers. It’s further confirmation to me that we’ve moved out of the era of computer forensics and into era of digital forensics. Computer forensics, of course, will continue to play an important part of what we do as a community, but the mobile device era is firmly and undeniably in place. Every now and again I still see examiners comment on some of the digital forensics list servs how they hate working on phones. I have to restrain myself from asking how they feel about obsolescence."
This made me reflect how I have always been puzzled by the attitude to mobile forensics within the community.

Since I have been recruiting in the forensics area I have always been a little confused at the disparity in salaries between computer forensic analysts and those people specialising in mobile phones.

It is undoubtedly the case that computer forensic specialists earn significantly more - in fact, about six months ago I had an interesting conversation with a Mobile Forensics Team Leader who took home a lower salary than any of the computer forensics analysts in his organisation.  Based on my experience, I would be astonished if any mobile forensic analyst here in the UK earns more than £40k.  Putting this in context, a computer forensic graduate with no experience can start on a basic salary of £30k.

Last week I spoke to a really bright, ambitious mobile analyst with over three years experience who wanted to move into computer forensics as he saw no career progression opportunities within the mobile area.  His concern was that he may have to take an entry-level position if he did this which seems ludicrous with all the excellent experience he has gained.

As the smartphones continue to dominate will the situation be reversed by 2014 with computer forensic analysts seen as the poor relations?  If so, will salaries and career opportunities reflect this shift?

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