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I am a senior level .NET software developer in my mid 20s.

However before I got into software development, I had always been interested in military or law enforcement.

I could not join the military because of asthma.

I could not join the police because of color blindness.

However after an idea from a friend and looking it up, I could quite easily take the training classes and get certified to be a private investigator.

The only concern I have, is I want to do something with a specialty in my current skill set (software development).

Does anyone know what things a private investigator does, that they would excel at with a background in software development?

Is there any need for some type of "source code" forensics where I try and determine if source code is copyrighted or malicious?

Is there any use of employers hiring a legitimate software developer with another purpose of their job?

I am not willing to give up my current passion and talent at software development to go to another career in something completely unrelated, but if I can merge the two I would love it!

Just don't know how I can and hopefully someone here has known someone who did this, or has done it themselves to have an idea!

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There is one application I know of, called 'BackTrack' which is used in computer forensics and investigation. Might be worth your while to get familiar with this Linux based distribution which is a live cd for forensics and recovery of data...

Hope this helps, Best regards, Tom.

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Just a thought, but I wonder if you could start some sort of profiling/identifying art for source code.

Just like they currently do for handwriting.

I guess it would be more research than applied though, since you would be creating the field...

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Not that I know anything about the topic beyond reading lots of mystery novels, but actually from what I gather, PIs these days spend more time on Google and searching databases than doing any Philip Marlowe sleuthing stuff. The recent Wired article "Vanished" gives a cool example of how computer skills can be useful in looking for a missing person. The other area where I am sure computer skills must be useful is in financial investigations.

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  • You could use your computer skills to break into a husband's computer to find those pics of him and his mistress.

  • You could use your analytical mind to solve difficult case

  • You could use your internet skillz to find clues on the net (e.g. stolen goods at ebay)

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I saw on TV once that private eyes were given lessons in using computer spying software(trojans, RATs and stuff) at private eye school. Maby you could code those.

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ITToolbox's Chief Monkey may be able to add some suggestions to this as his job title is "Information Security Investigator / CISO" that may be close to what you want in a sense.

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In the big venn diagram of software development and private investigation, there's just not much grey area. Private investigators generally investigate people; you'd learn to search databases and the web for information on someone. That's a different skillset than building software, in my book.

That said, getting a PI's license and doing computer security could probably count for what you want, although you wouldn't need the license at all to do the security work, and vice versa.

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You might try consulting for some existing private investigators. See if they can rent your existing skills. Better yet, find out what software void exists in their industry and develop a product to fill the void for them. Do what you're good at but for the industry you're interested is switching to. This will help you figure out what specifically you want to do and how to get there.