Do you need to be a PI to do Forensics?

Do you need a private investigators license to practice forensics in Texas? Well in many cases yes.  If, for example, you are directly securing evidence and analyzing said evidence, then yes you do.  However there are exceptions. Frequently I am asked to render an expert opinion in court cases regarding forensic procedures.  According to the Texas Department of Public Safety a scientific review and even serving as an expert witness does not require a private investigator license “Section 1702.130 of [...]

To Certify or Not To Certify….that is the question

The debate rages on year after year. Are certifications worth it? Pick any certification you like and type into Google “Is XXX certification worth it”. Half the answers you find will tell you that this particular certification is the Holy Grail of learning and the other half will tell you it is a waste of your time. My position is that both extremes are wrong. Let’s address each. First, the ‘certifications are worthless’ argument. This usually stems from someone who [...]

What makes a cyber security professional?

One problem we have today, with the attention to cyber security, is that everyone wants to get into the game. And frankly there are all too many 'security professionals' and even 'security companies' that simply don't have sufficient skills.  So what makes a good security professional? Here is what I consider the most basic skillset: First and foremost you need a solid understanding of computers.  Yes a CS/CIS/BIS degree would be good, but without that, a basic skillset equivalent to [...]

Cyber Stalking

While cyber stalking and harassment are relatively new, real-world stalking has received a growing amount of attention in the past few years. The primary reason for this is that stalking has often been a prelude to violent acts, including sexual assault and homicide. Most states have long since passed a variety of anti-stalking laws; this movement has recently been expanded into cyberspace. This, of course, leads to the question, what exactly is cyber stalking or harassment? Cyberstalking or harassment is [...]

Writing a Forensics / Expert Report

Introduction The purpose of this paper is to provide guidance in writing forensics reports. Many training courses concentrate on training the forensic examiner in specific tools or techniques. The writing of the report is either not mentioned or is given very little attention. Unfortunately many forensic examiners, both in law enforcement and in private practice, fail to provide adequate detail in their report. This article is designed to provide guidance on that issue. Whether you are using an expert as [...]

The Expert Witness Follies

I have now been working from time to time as an expert witness for over 11 years. I have worked on major intellectual property cases, forensics cases, and a few criminal cases. In that time, I have seen other expert witnesses make some significant errors. Without mentioning specific individuals, cases, or parties (for obvious reasons) I would like to share some real-world stories from the trenches. And, of course, I will mention what you should avoid (either as an expert, [...]

The flaw in modern cyber forensics

There is no question that cyber forensics is a hot topic. Cell phone forensics, PC forensics, and other device forensics is a hot topic. Not only are more and more law enforcement agencies getting their own forensics detectives and labs, but more private firms are involved in forensics now. And there are some amazing tools. I have used Encase, FTK, OSForensics, Oxygen, and others. Every year each tool seems more packed with features, and many are remarkably easy to use. [...]