After a year so many spent cooped up in their homes, it seems only fitting that the first return to an in-person event should happen at a beloved vacation spot: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, site of the 22nd edition of Techno Security Myrtle Beach.
Techno Security has always drawn a mix of public and private sector-based digital investigators, and this year was no different. Farand Wasiak, a law enforcement digital forensic examiner, thought the mix was about even, blending federal, state, and local law enforcement from across the United States with “all the usual vendors, corporate network security, freelance security guys, independent forensic labs (the defense experts) [and] college students looking for a job.”
The final count of attendees was 668, according to conference organizers at Comexposium, which puts on Techno Security. The company’s press release said attendees represented 41 states, the District of Columbia, and 9 different countries.
That was important, said Wasiak, for the conference’s greatest benefit: the networking. “You can try to learn all you can, but it’s important to have a person to call,” he said. “I like to think of it as external memory. My brain is the C drive and it can only hold so much data. So it’s nice to have a cache of hard drives at my disposal to find the information I need.”
Jack Raubach, marketing director at Forensic Computers, said: “Techno Myrtle Beach 2021 was a great return to face-to-face tradeshows. The transition back to in person events was handled very smoothly and overall the tradeshow was well run.”
As we highlighted in our pre-conference coverage, Techno Security’s 117 talks and sponsor demos ranged across seven tracks, from digital forensics techniques — focusing on mobile, vehicle, multimedia, and cloud investigations — to corporate investigations, information security, and legal issues. Other topics included artificial intelligence, data breaches and ransomware, open source intelligence, social media, and risk management.
The program featured a keynote address on data protection in 2021, along with two “early riser” sessions on emerging cyber threats to the supply chain, and Uber resources for law enforcement investigations.
Wasiak attended “tips and tricks” style presentations that focused on technique over tools. Two of his favorites: Spyder Forensics’ “UAV Forensics – A Deep Dive into All Aspects of Drone Forensic Analysis” and Cellebrite’s “Why ‘the find all evidence’ button is not a good idea”.
“[Cellebrite] talked about shortening the scope of the investigation for maximum and timely results,” said Wasiak. “Spyder Forensics’ Rob Attoe gave a great presentation on drone forensics. I never knew drones held so much information and how useful they can be.”
As a lecture co-presenter, for his part, Brandon Epstein,* director of forensic training at Medex Forensics, likewise had a positive experience. “Someone has to have the last presentation of the conference, and this year that role fell to Bert [Lyons, Medex’ managing director] and me,” he said.
Coming the day after the exhibit hall closes — the day many attendees leave for home — the last slot typically causes anxiety for speakers assigned to it. But Epstein said the timing was perfect. “There was more of a relaxed atmosphere that led to some great questions during the talk,” he said. “It also allowed some to stay a little after for some deeper discussions.”
“Four days of intensive, focused cybersecurity and digital forensics training [were] perfect for us “old-timers” looking for new products and vendors, as well as great refresher and new training,” said David R. Lease, vice president at Evolver, LLC. “The curriculum is flexible, efficient, effective, and fun.”
The exhibit hall
As always, Techno’s exhibit hall was the place to be for attendees seeking out new technologies to bring back to their workplaces — and 47 vendors there to meet that need. Both longtime and first-time exhibitors showcased their products to prospective customers.
Amy Moles, CEO and co-founder of ArcPoint Forensics, said: “Booth traffic was nearly nonstop at all times. Exactly what we had hoped for, with overwhelmingly positive feedback and high interest from federal, military, law enforcement and private sector cyber incident response firms.”
Epstein called the face-to-face time “invaluable. “As a new company going into Techno Security, we were aware that it is an industry ‘must-attend’; our experience there just solidified that fact,” he said, adding that feedback from the exhibit hall prompted developers to prioritize a new feature implementation.
“Of course, exposing a new product to such a wide market is a tremendous opportunity,” Epstein added. That opportunity included not just product feedback, but also changes to messaging. The value, Epstein said, was “so much so that we already signed on for next year.”
In 2021, Techno Security is coming next to Denver, Colorado August 2-4, and to San Diego, California October 25-27. The next Techno Security Myrtle Beach is planned for May 9-12 2022. Visit the event website to learn more.
*Brandon Epstein is a technical advisor to the quarterly Forensic Focus Legal Update.