Entering Private Practice!

I am able to announce big changes at DataTriangle. I have been employed by the Alachua Sheriff’s Office as a Deputy Sheriff for the last 14 years. Most recently I was assigned to the FBI CyberCrime Task Force, Internet Crimes Against Children, and the computer forensic examiner. Yes, this has been as busy and stressful job as it sounds!

I am leaving the Sheriff’s Office to devote myself full-time to DataTriangle. I will be doing work in the areas of computer forensics, data recovery, and website administration. I will supervise staff members working on general computer repair services in the Gainesville, Florida area.

My recent computer forensics experience translates most closely to work in criminal defense cases. As I have always done though, my goal is to expand my experience. I have already worked civil cases involving digital evidence. I anticipate working a lot more with the increased availability. I have also had Gainesville Attorneys approach me requesting e-discovery services.

There is a great deal of overlap between e-discovery and computer forensic practice. A lot of the difference lies in acquiring a few new software tools and becoming proficient in them. I am in the process now of buying these tools and practicing. I don’t presently see myself trying to get into large scale e-discovery work. I am more interested in supporting law firms with their small to medium size e-discovery matters.

It is with great excitement that I enter into the private practice of computer forensics! The excitement is somewhat tempered by sadness at leaving all the great comrades and professionals that I have worked with through the years in law enforcement. I wish all of them the best of luck and safe patrols!

DiskAnalyzer Pro

I recently received a courtesy upgrade to a software product I already owned and used, DiskAnalyzer Pro.  I am excited to review the software because it has really come a long ways.  The version I am reviewing is 3.4.

From their website: “The software helps you to find largest folders and files on your hard drive.  Get hard disk space consumption report grouped by file size, file types, ownership, file date and attributes.   Quickly drill down to folders consuming most of your hard disk space.”

As soon as the program launches, it asks you which drive you would like to analyze.  Once you pick the drive it quickly analyzes it.  It did my 500GB drive I chose in about 20 seconds.  The program then presents its main work interface.  The primary area is a row of tabs that lets you sort the files by different criteria.

DiskAnalyzer Pro Tabs

DiskAnalyzer Pro Tabs

You can click any of those tabs to quickly sort/ group files by that criteria.    For instance, you can click file types to quickly see how much storage is being taken up by every file type on your drive (by extension).  Wondering why you have so many rich text files?  Just double click the “rtf” extension folder.  A new window opens called the “File Viewer and Explorer.”  This view list all the rtf files on the drive with the associated metadata.  To the left is a window to quickly sort further by any of the file attributes.  Date searching even has a handy pop-up calendar to assist in choosing the dates you need.  (Very useful when you are lost in programming, and lost your orientation to time and place!!)

File Explorer View

File Explorer View

Double-Clicking any of the files in the file viewer will launch the associated program to view the file.  For some of the simpler file types there is the option to launch and internal pre-view within the application.

A very nice feature if you need to report to someone else what is where, is the ability to export an HTML or CSV report of files located.  This is very useful for quick inventories after a data recovery or computer forensics job.  The same can be done with computer forensics software, but it is more time consuming to set up.

I can also see it be very useful for network IT professionals trying to find out what or who is taking up all the space on the server!

Overall, I find this to be a very easy to use and cost-effective utility.

Computer Forensics Expert in Federal Court

I am very pleased to announce that I testified as an Expert in Computer Forensics and Cybercrime.  I was on the stand for about an one and one half hours.  The material of the case involved the receipt, possession, and distribution of child pornography.

I was happy to learn that the case agents, attorney, and jury were very happy with my testimony.  Everyone told me that I was very clear and did an excellent job of making highly technical material understandable.  Being technically accurate and at the same time understandable, I believe, is one of the greatest challenges to anyone testifying as a computer forensics expert.  Throughout my training I have always tried to ask myself, “How would I explain this to a jury?”

The entire case was a great experience from working with the U.S. Attorney, investigators, criminal defense attorney, and everyone else involved in this case.

I am proud and happy to have accomplished my goal of being recognized as an expert in state and federal court.  I look forward to continuing to learn in this field, and hope I have a long and successful career in it!

Certified in Court as Expert in Computer Forensics and Cybercrime

I am not a big fan of “tooting” my own horn, but I have to publicize the accomplishment of a long time goal.

Yesterday, in the Rhoden v Rhoden in the 8th Judicial Circuit of Florida I testified as an expert witness in “Computer Forensics and Cybercrime!” 

Since there is not a universally accepted gold standard in computer forensics certifications, testifying as an expert in court is about the only standard that indicates you have entered the top tier of the field. 

I very pleased to have accomplished a goal I set for myself in 2006.  Hopefully this is just the mid-point of great career in computer forensics. 🙂

X-Ways Forensics Training Course Review

I just completed a week of training with X-Ways in Washington, DC.   The instructor was the CEO of the company and principal software designer Stefan Fleischmann.  This class is taught all over the world, generally only a couple times a year in the United States.

The class is broken up into two segments, which you can purchase seperately.  The first three days is disigned specifically to teach the student how to use X-Ways Forensics.  The last two days is a file systems course.  Since the segments are very different, I will cover them individually.

X-Ways Forensics Course:

If you have read my previous blogs you know I was already a fan of X-Ways Forensics prior to attending the course.  I knew though that there had to be functionality I was missing out on having not attended the training.  I was right!  lol   I of course had learned a lot of the features through use and reading the manual.  There were areas that I had not really explored that I will probably use in every investigation. 

All students are provided with printed training material, digital copy of training material, a computer, and a copy of X-Ways to use during the course.

The class starts out with an overall tour of the user interface and how to navigate in X-Ways Forensics.  Mr. Fleischmann regularly demonstrates that there is multiple ways to do almost everything in X-Ways.  I gained an appreciation for the phrase: How many ways are there to  _______? “X-Ways”  You have to use the “X” to denote the number of ways to do a task because you can’t easily count them all! That is a bit of joke, but whether you prefer context menus, main menus, or keyboard shortcuts there is probably the choice of doing it your preferred way in X-Ways Forensics.  Additionally, along with all those normal ways there are often sorta hidden short-cuts built in to make common tasks faster.  Once you see theses, there location makes great sense.   But they are one on the kinda of things that are hard to pick up on in a manual, but easy to learn when you see someone do it.

While teaching, Mr. Fleischmann shows students through the tasks that he is performing.  After learning a series of features, Mr. Fleischmann has very well planned out exercises that the students execute on their own.  These are very good at reinforcing what you just learned.  After giving you time to practice, Mr. Fleischmann then leads you through the ideal solution to the exercise.

Mr. Fleischmann starts off each day of class with a review of what was learned the day before.  This is another great adult learning teaching method that reinforces learning. 

There were a wide variety of computer examiners in the course.  Everything from private to the biggest name federal LE agencies.  I did not hear one examiner that was not impressed with the software, Mr. Fleischmann, or the training.

File Systems:

The last two days of the five day course, are a class on file systems.  These two days are very fast paced.  If you don’t come into the class with some knowledge of file systems it is probably to fast to comprehend a lot.  That said, if you come in with some knowledge;  you will leave with a lot more.  Mr. Fleischmann has an amazing knowledge of file systems.  He moves through the MFT in NTFS very fluidly.  He explains all the ends and out.  I don’t mean the usual, “this is a journaling file system that maintain individual entries of each file and their location..”  Mr. Fleishman dives into the actual binary code in example after example, breaking down file entries.   Mr. Fleishman also breaks down and explains other important system files like the $logfile.  I have already used information in this portion of the class to find evidence in a couple cases I would have otherwise missed.

Mr. Fleischmann is nothing short of amazing as an instructor.  He is extremely punctual and efficient throughout the class.  There is not a moment of the course that is not well organized.  He is able to intelligently answer almost any computer question that comes up, no matter how trivial it may be. The course is definitely fast paced, though.  Get your rest, because you will need all your focus. 

This was certainly one of the best computer courses I have had the opportunity to attend.  I would highly recommend it to any computer examiner or data recovery technician!

Phone: (615) 208-6565 1633 W. Main St, Suite 902, Lebanon, TN