More than a keystroke
NSP vet brings computer forensics expertise to Bellevue University
Computer forensics is defined by the Cybersecurity Institute as "the analysis of information contained within and created with computer systems and computing devices, typically in the interest of figuring out what happened, when it happened, how it happened, and who was involved."
It takes more than a keystroke to bring all that information to light despite what TV shows like CSI and Bones might have you believe.
Scott Christensen, an adjunct professor at Bellevue University, has been on the cutting edge of computer forensics for the past 10-plus years. In 1999, as a member of the Nebraska State Patrol, Christensen helped create the Technical Crimes division.
"A lot of (what you see on TV) can be done, but not in the manner that it's portrayed," Christensen said. "There's no big holographic displays where you wave your hand and move your data about. It's a mundane process. It's not linked to other databases where I find the email and I click on the email and it automatically links to the guys driver's license photo, which automatically tells me that he has a warrant in another state for homicide, which automatically tells me where his Onstar is in his car and it gives me a location and I go arrest him. That's not real."
While it might not be quite as glamorous as what's portrayed on TV, Christensen and his colleagues can do some amazing stuff. When the division started in 1999, he had a 40-megabyte hard drive to work with. Now, the Nebraska State Patrol boasts a 100-terabyte network in the computer forensics lab. The lab has assisted with everything from accident investigations to tracking down child pornography rings and drug dealers.
Christensen brings all that experience with him into the classroom, but still finds he's learning from his students as much as he is instructing them.
"I love the dynamics of the Bellevue teaching model," he said. "I enjoy the interaction with students. It's a whole lot of fun because you're constantly learning. Students challenge you that way because they're going to see things in different ways. You have to stay on top of your game."
Christensen can relate to his students having been on the other side of the desk as well. Christensen received both his bachelor's and master's degrees from Bellevue University. He earned his undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice in 1993 and followed up with a Master of Arts in Management in 1996.
Christensen is teaching the CIS 607 Computer Forensics course in the fall term and has taught Introduction to Cyber Ethics in the past as well as various courses in the Criminal Justice program. Christensen retired from the Nebraska State Patrol in July of 2009. He recently accepted a full-time position as a Security Business Practice Manager at TD Ameritrade in Omaha.
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