What is CDFAE's mission?
Develop a partnership between academia and the government to establish standards and best practices for
digital forensics practitioners, educators, and researchers to advance the discipline of Digital Forensics and
increase the number of qualified professionals to meet the needs of law enforcement, counterintelligence,
national defense and legal communities.
What value does CDFAE add?
- Establish a common core curriculum and development of standards for education and training in Digital
- CDFAE designation requires in-course peer reviews of curriculum and practicum within a three year period.
- Education model based upon core learning objectives progressing to topic driven research.
- Provides an opportunity for students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in Digital Forensics.
- Provides employers capacity to confirm a candidate's capability to apply their knowledge.
- Develops a certifiable path to meet National Cyber needs.
- Strengthens bonds between Government, Academia, Professional Organizations, and Industry.
The United States is in a
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)
skills deficit. More than ever, organizations need to plan for the future as significant shifts in cyber operations accelerate globally. Digital Forensics skill sets provide cross-cutting application to multiple fields. Digital Forensics, in its strictest connotation, the application of computer science and investigative procedures involving the examination of digital evidence - following proper search authority, chain of custody, validation with mathematics, use of validated tools, repeatability, reporting, and possibly expert testimony. Beyond traditional legal purposes, the same techniques, scientific rigor, and procedural precision now support the range of military operations and courses of action (e.g., computer network operations as well as CI objectives). CDFAE serves as a prime avenue for cultivating leaders to meet evolving objectives across the digital forensics and cyber communities, and is vital to protect, investigate, and serve public, private and national goals.
- DoD-recognized skill set and awareness of current issues facing Digital Forensics investigators and examiners.
- Opportunity to be recognized where their skills can be of the greatest value.
- Valued for their highly desirable and unique skill sets.
- The capability to use the current techniques, skills, and tools necessary for digital forensic examination of
digital media, files, operating systems, decives, networks, and applications for discovery and recovery of
- The aptitude to design, implement, and evaluate a system, process, component, or program to meet digital
- An appreciation of professional, ethical, legal, security, social, and continuing education and development
- Access to advanced digital forensic resources.
- Educators are recognized as being capable of effectively delivering theory and
- Provide students greater access to unique internship or employment opportunities.
- Hire employees with validated skill sets capable of being on task day 1.
- Understand exactly what skills the employee brings to bear.
- Be able to diversify geographical hires without compromising quality.
DC3's Role in Digital Forensics
Operating since 1998, DC3 provides digital and multimedia (D/MM) forensics, cyber investigative training; research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E); and cyber analytics to DoD computer network defense (CND), law enforcement (LE), intelligence community (IC), counterintelligence (CI) and counterterrorism (CT) agencies. DC3 is recognized as a
designated National Cyber Centers
in National Security Presidential Directive 54/Homeland Security Presidential Directive 23 (NSPD-54/ HSPD-23) and serves as the operational focal point for the
Defense Industrial Base (DIB) Cybersecurity and Information Assurance DIB CS/IA Program
DC3 also is co-lead and the DoD representative for
National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) framework
Component 4 - Cybersecurity Workforce Training and Professional Development
Functional Area 3 - Domestic Law Enforcement (LE) and Counterintelligence (CI)
. DC3's contributions along with its co-leads defined the NICE framework's high-level Category of
for the Specialty Areas of
DC3 chairs the CDFAE governance board comprised of Academia and Professional Organizations specific to the
discipline. The governance board oversees learning objective requirements, designation, and ensuring that
a holistic approach to developing digital forensics, cyber investigation, and cyber analytics education is
How is CDFAE designed?
CDFAE focuses upon building core Knowledge Domains at multiple Skill and Ability levels across
the education spectrum. CDFAE designates DoD
and Federal education organizations and Academia
as meeting Digital Forensic Education standards based upon Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSA) utilized in field. It is an objective driven program which progresses to topic based research and problem solving. The CDFAE program is designed to create an applied knowledge (Hands-On) to knowledge applied (theoretical and research) educational mechanism with a clear progression between the training and education dichotomy in workforce development.
The eight Knowledge Domains represent well rounded digital forensics education topics field and the Learning Objective Levels are indicative elements of those topics. The program must provide structured advanced academic, research, and development capabilities in any or all of the digital forensics knowledge domain areas under the LOF at a level appropriate for the current curriculum of participating educational institutes while enhancing and providing supplemental support towards digital forensic objectives. This is accomplished by transitioning general knowledge areas to a specific topic application.
Categories of CDFAE Designation
The CDFAE program offers designations to acredited academic programs that confer a digital forensics-related degree. To receive CDFAE designation, an institution's accredited academic program must map courses against a common core curriculum and must have in-course peer reviews of curriculum and practicum within a three year period.
The CDFAE program provides two separate designations that map to the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) framework for persons successfully passing CDFAE testing through a designated CDFAE academic program:
- Cyber Incident Responder (levels 100 and 200)
- Digital Forensics Examiner (levels 300 and 400)
Who are CDFAE's Pilot Schools and Trusted Partners?
- Howard County Community College
- Oklahoma State University
- Norwich University
- UTICA College
- Stevenson University
- American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) / Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) [Board Advisor]
Interested in applying to become a CDFAE Designated Program?