Sunday, June 5, 2011

Most computer forensic examiners Need Shrinks

Many computer forensic specialists sooner or later get exposed to potentially psychologically harmful material. Images or (worse) videos of people being tortured and killed; children being exploited and raped are often encountered by forensic examiners. Some have only occasional exposure, and some have to constantly work with such material due to the nature of their work. The exposure causes all sorts of problems from stress and loss of productivity to more serious psychological traumas.

The above also applies to private and corporate forensic examiners who often accidentally locate offensive images or videos. What are the ways to minimise negative impacts of exposure to such material?

Prevention is better than cure.
It is technically difficult to completely insulate all personnel from the exposure. The only logical choice is to adequately prepare specialist for such situations by introducing mandatory introductory programs. These programs need to be specifically designed to deal with exposures to potentially harmful material and possible reactions to such exposures. Most importantly new computer forensic specialists must be put through the program before they walk in to the lab.

As part of occupational health and safety, career longevity and work performance initiative we are currently working with professional psychologists to develop such program for our organisation. The program is going to be integrated in the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), and will also include mandatory reporting, debriefing and follow up. To minimise harmful effects, the arrangements are being made with psychologists to conduct debriefing within the first 24 to 72 hours after the initial exposure.

These procedures are designed to equip computer forensic personnel with knowledge, skills and professional assistance to enable them to cope with exposures to offensive graphics. As an additional benefit, the program  may also assit staff in dealing with other stressful situations. These steps are also designed to insure productivity and retention of the highly trained forensic specialists.

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