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Cyber Crime Investigation

Master the basics of investigating and preventing cyber crime attacks alongside the cyber security experts at PA consulting.

A yellow fingerprint with digital patterns surrounding it.
  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

Learn how to prevent cyber crime

As we embrace rapidly evolving technology, the risk of people finding opportunities to exploit it continues to increase.

This four-week course will equip you with the core technical and theoretical knowledge required to conduct cyber investigations and help prevent cyber crime in the future.

Explore the challenges associated with a cyber crime investigator

You’ll gain an insight into the legislation and best practices of how to prevent cyber crime, as well as the challenges which can arise during an investigation.

You’ll also learn about data storage and how data is interpreted, managed, communicated, and potentially recovered from a hacked digital device.

Discover how the data results gathered can help in reporting cyber crime

Exploring virtual and volatile data, you’ll discover how gathering this data can help in the result of an investigation.

This understanding will enable you to recognise the fundamental elements of what it takes to become an effective cyber investigator.

Learn from the best minds in cyber investigation

The course is led by Paul Cain, a leading practitioner with almost 20 years of experience working in digital forensics and cyber investigations.

You’ll learn from his expertise in both law enforcement and the private sector to help you develop cyber crime investigation skills.


  • Week 1

    Exploring the problem, rules and challenges

    • Welcome, Aims, Objectives and Motivations

      Meet the instructor, explore the course aims, objectives and what we will cover in just a few weeks.

    • Cyber-crime: Assessing the Problem

      Technology can provide many benefits to us all in both our working and social lives, although a minority have found opportunities to use it to facilitate crime and benefit from others.

    • Forensics in Investigations

      Assessing the term forensics and what role it has to play in cyber investigations.

    • Rules of Engagement

      Whatever you line of business, there are legal requirements and possibly regulatory and best practice guidelines to consider.

    • The Investigation Process

      Derived from the many definitions of digital / cyber forensics we will describe a 5 phase approach to an investigation.

    • Investigator or Geek?

      Assessing the skills required to become a competent cyber investigator.

    • What are the challenges?

      Discussing some of the key challenges asociated with investigating cybercrime.

    • Weekly knowledge check

      A short quiz on the subjects covered this week.

    • Summing up and looking forward

      Reflecting on the broad ranging background and theory covered before we look forward to exploring computer systems and data next week.

  • Week 2

    Computers and Data: The Basics

    • Introduction and Objectives

      Setting out the weekly objectives and how they contribute to the aim of the course.

    • What is a computer?

      Exploring definitions from the perspective of conducting an investigation.

    • Computer Hardware

      Assessing the roles of the key hardware components of a computer and their potential evidential value in an investigation.

    • Computer Software

      Exploring the role of the computer software, operating systems and applications, in the generation of potential evidence.

    • Data - What and How?

      What is data, how is it stored and what does it mean?

    • Weekly knowledge check

      A short quiz on the subjects covered this week.

    • Summing up and looking forward

      Reflecting on the relative dependencies of hardware, software and data and their roles in communication for next week.

  • Week 3

    Networks, Virtualisation and Volatile Data

    • Introduction and Objectives

      Setting out the weekly objectives and how they contribute to the aim of the course.

    • Physical, Remote, Virtual and Volatile Data Sources

      Data is stored in different environments. Being able to determine the source, track the location and nature of data and it's potential availability will have an impact on any investigation.

    • Networks and Cyber-crime

      Exploring computer networks and the impact of globally connectivity on investigations.

    • How do Computers Communicate?

      Exploring the hardware, addressing and protocols used by systems to communicate effectively.

    • Virtualisation

      Computer systems and other devices are moving from being physical to virtual, emulated using software on another system.

    • Volatile Data

      Exploring sources and examples of volatile data and it's value an investigation.

    • Weekly knowledge check

      A short quiz on the subjects covered this week.

    • Summing up and looking forward

      Reflecting on different data environments and states before looking ahead to storage, potential recovery and demonstrating integrity next week.

  • Week 4

    Investigating Data

    • Introduction and Objectives

      Setting out the weekly objectives and how they contribute to the aim of the course.

    • Storage Device Configuration

      How devices are configured to enable data storage.

    • Exploring Metadata

      Matadata is a term used throughout IT, but what does it mean and does it have any value in an investigation?

    • Files: Deletion and Recovery

      Exploring what occurs when a file is 'deleted' and circumstances affecting what can potentially be recovered.

    • Demonstrating Data Integrity

      Integrity is a requirement of best practice principles and a key element of any investigation. Alongside data validation and verification it is also plays a vital role in security.

    • Weekly knowledge test

      A short quiz on the subjects covered this week.

    • Putting it all together

      Demonstrating how the law, best practice, forensics and process come together to provide the framework for an investigation.

    • Certification Test

      A final short test on the material from all 4 weeks of the course.

    • Summing up - Where to next?

      Reflecting on the more technical elements of data storage, recovery and integrity this this week, the final in this investigation concepts course, before considering where do you go from here?

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Develop a practical understanding of the legislation, best practice, process and challenges associated with the investigation of cyber-crime.
  • Summarise how data is stored, interpreted, managed, communicated and can potentially be recovered from a digital device.
  • Assess the potential evidential value and integrity associated with virtual, volatile and metadata in an investigation.
  • Explain why all of the fundamentals covered in the course would be required to become an effective cyber investigator.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone interested in exploring the fundamentals of digital investigations and cyber crime.

What software or tools do you need?

No hardware, software or other resources required to complete this course.

Who will you learn with?

Jim is a digital forensic and incident response investigator working primarily in law enforcement casework, interpreting evidence from all types of digital platforms.

Who developed the course?

PA Consulting

An independent firm of over 2,600 people, we operate globally from offices across the Americas, Europe, the Nordics, the Gulf and Asia Pacific.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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