Thoughts on managing increasingly complex digital forensics cases
We’ve all seen articles about the looming death of forensics due to the increase in data volume and data containers. The calmer folk generally just chuckle and get back to work, knowing that they’re gainfully employed for as long as they wish to work. For the less calm, and just to give everyone a few more things to think about, let me offer the following three thoughts:
1) As data volumes and the number of devices increase, clients may need to be willing to pay more for the analysis. The cost of the work isn’t nearly proportional to the number of custodians these days. Just because data volumes are increasing doesn’t mean that the work doesn’t need to be done. The successful practitioners will be the ones who figure out how to process all that data while keeping their clients happy.
2) Then again, does all the data need to be processed immediately? The successful practitioner may also be the ones who successfully triage the problem and can defend those triage decisions to their client and in court. Just because you don’t process all the data immediately doesn’t mean you cannot go for a deeper look later when justified.
3) Approaching the problem as a team rather than as an individual will yield better results. In addition to splitting the problem over multiple cores (technical solution), split the problem over multiple people (organizational solution), each with deep domain knowledge and appropriate skills. The amount of work done by each individual may go down a bit, the total work done by the team will scale with the volume of data and number of devices, and there will be some additional overhead due to coordination. The overall efficiency, given a good team, should increase quite a bit. I know I’m much more efficient with additional eyes on the problem working in concert. The solo practitioner may need to limit the jobs they take on, or form partnerships that allow them to share the work efficiently.
The problem is hardly insurmountable, and in any such challenge there are opportunities. We can wail and gnash our teeth or we can quietly (or, if you’re in marketing, noisily) step up and meet the challenge, ensuring quality services for our clients and a secure job for ourselves.