As electronic data becomes the norm, specialists in computer forensics are working to hone their information retrieval skills. DataClues has the experts on call.
Increasingly, sleuthing has gone digital. As electronic data becomes the norm, specialists in computer forensics are working to hone their information retrieval skills. Yorba Linda-based DataClues helps clients with forensics and data recovery. Founder Jim Vaughn chats about computer heaven, security, and making a difference.
How did DataClues get started?
I really began, and continue, as an instructor teaching computer forensics.
For those who don’t know, computer forensics simply means locating data on hard drives and other storage devices. As time went on, I realized there was a huge need for qualified computer forensic companies.
What got you personally interested in doing this work?
As I went through my law enforcement career I was transferred to the white-collar crime detail and my supervisor called me in his office one day because he knew I was what is known today as a “computer geek.” He told me he was sending me to computer forensics school. After I came back from that school I knew I was home. I began a campaign of training and application of this newfound knowledge. I was in computer heaven.
Why do you feel there’s a need for what you provide?
Most of our work comes due to civil lawsuits filed by one party or the other. More and more companies are finding themselves subject to being sued, or being ripped off by former employees who steal their company secrets to give to their competitors.
Other companies having a need for our services are those who lack knowledge in the area of data security. We have found by talking to IT staff that they are geniuses when it comes to network security, but when you approach topics like sanitizing hard drives, tracking computer usage from one employee to the next, and how to handle computers when they’ve been used to commit a policy violation, there is not much training available to help companies reduce liability.
What kind of challenges do you find in doing computer forensics?
Where should I begin? The main concern we have is educating our potential clients on not altering the evidence. Each time you turn on a computer, file dates and times get changed. This could be a crucial problem depending on the type of case it is.
Another challenge are programs themselves. Some programs are proprietary and for that reason we have to learn how that program ticks to extract the relevant data for our clients. Keeping up with the ever-changing technology is a challenge in itself.
What do you like best about what you do?
I know this may sound corny, but helping people is what I feel I do the best. There are less than 500 certified computer forensic examiners in the entire world.
Being one of them really makes me proud and I enjoyed going through the process to become certified. There is nothing more satisfying than bringing a case to a quick and favored resolve after digging for, and finding the truth.
I entered law enforcement because I wanted to make a difference. I, as well as my other staff members, use that same mentality when dealing with our clients.
As we continue to be honest, diligent, and loyal, that brings us home to our kids at night so we may tell them we did the right thing at work. As long as I can continue to teach my kids to do the right thing, then all is well.
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