Student Spotlight – Capstone Research Paper on Bitcoin Forensics

Michael Doran Achieves SANS GOLD Certification

Michael Doran, MSc, ACE, CFCE, CCE, C|EH, C|HFI, GCFA, graduated from the MS in Cybersecurity program in 2014. A lifelong learner, Michael got the opportunity to apply for GOLD level certification after taking a SANS course and passing the certification test. This is his story.

A Chance Meeting

During my law enforcement career, I discovered my passion for computer forensics and investigations. The idea of taking the smallest pieces of information and piecing them together to form a virtual roadmap of activity really appealed to me. My interest was so high that I began taking courses through the National White Collar Crime Center in order to further educate myself. Little did I know that one of the instructors that I would see numerous times for those courses, Cynthia Gonnella, would later have a profound influence on my education and career.

Enrolling in the online MS Cybersecurity program

I soon found that the NWC3 courses were not enough to satisfy my desire for knowledge regarding computer forensics. So, in my search for quality degree programs in Cybersecurity and Computer Forensics, I came across Utica College. After scouring their website and reading countless positive student reviews from all walks of life and career paths, I enrolled in the online Cybersecurity program. It was through that curriculum and the help of my professors that I gained a solid understanding of computer forensics, cybersecurity and the necessary skills that I needed in order to be a well-rounded investigator and forensic examiner. And so when I graduated in December of 2003, I wasted no time in enrolling in the Master’s program, taking on two tracks of study: Intelligence and Forensics.

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The online program prepared me for my career in cybersecurity

The entire master’s program was a great balance of advanced topics relating to the fields of cyber intelligence and computer forensics, combined with individual challenges in the form of individual and group research projects relating to various topics in the cybersecurity field. My experience in the master’s program culminated with the capstone project that proved to be the most challenging, yet rewarding experience I have ever undertaken. Sure there were times that I was stressed beyond my limits, but it was through the help of my advisor, Professor Cynthia Gonnella, that I maintained my wits and produced an industry-level research paper. Of all of the accomplishments that I have had thus far in my life, there was no greater feeling than receiving my master’s degree and a hard-bound copy of my research paper that I proudly display on my bookshelf.

Graduating from the master’s program

Since graduating from Utica College, I took a job with Optiv Security where I am a security consultant on the Enterprise Incident Management team. In this capacity, I deal predominately with incident response and computer forensic investigations. The education that I received from Utica College, in both the undergraduate and graduate programs, have provided me with the knowledge and skillset that has enabled me to conduct in-depth investigations with confidence, write industry-level reports, and conduct technical research in all facets relating to cybersecurity, computer forensics and incident response. These are skills that are necessary to be successful in the cybersecurity field and I would not have obtained them anywhere else but Utica College.

Earning industry certifications

Even though my educational time at Utica College came to an end, I continually educate myself in the field of computer forensics, cybersecurity and incident response in the form of certifications and training courses. I recently earned the GCFA certification (Certified Forensic Analyst), which is offered through the Global Information Assurance Certification program. Never wanting to back down from a challenge, I decided to work toward the GOLD level of the certification, which required that I write a research paper on a topic relating to forensics. I petitioned the certification committee and they allowed me to utilize my research that I had conducted for my master’s capstone project. I submitted my capstone project to my advisor and he responded back to me, “This is one of the most professional and well written papers that I have seen thus far. All I need you to do is shorten the content and you will be all set.” My advisor approved the paper a few days later and it will soon be published.

I owe a great deal of my success in my career to the education that I received at Utica College, and if there is one piece of advice that I could give to future students it would be to enjoy the ride. The professors will challenge you in ways that you never thought were possible, but learn from them, from your mistakes, from your fellow students and in the end, you will achieve more than you ever thought was possible.

Want to find out more about Utica College's Online Master's in Cybersecurity degree, request more information or call us today at 315.732.2640 – or toll-free at 866.295.3106.