Adam Hovak, Software Product Manager, Exelis

Adam, you’re a Software Product Manager at Exelis. Could you tell us a bit about what the company does, and what your own role involves?

We’ve had some pretty big changes at Exelis in the last few weeks; As of May 29th 2015, Exelis was officially acquired by Harris Corporation. The combined Harris/Exelis acquisition (called Harris) is a pretty large defense company, that seems to do everything from night vision goggles to the next generation FAA control system for commercial flights, to communication radios. Our office in Rome, NY focuses primarily on information assurance and information protection. We started out years ago by building transfer devices for the Department of Defense (DoD) that would allow the automated transfer of data between networks of differing classification levels. In order to do our job effectively, we’ve had to understand all types of data.My role for the last few years has been a software engineering manager. I run a bunch of programs varying from DHS sponsored testing and forensic sites to commercial software (to include some forensic tools). We also do R&D for the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and vulnerability assessments for numerous customers. I’m asked all the time exactly what a software engineering manager is and the best response I’ve come up with is that I’m a software engineer that’s been around long enough that I’ve been promoted to a manager 😉

You currently lead the CyberFETCH program, an online repository for cyber forensics. Tell us more about the program – what are its aims, and what does it offer the digital forensics community?

CyberFETCH is an all-in-one, web-based repository for digital forensic tools, technology, and information. We’ve got a collaborative platform for forensic practitioners from the public sector, private industry, and academia to network with subject matter experts. In addition to that, we host the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) repository for Computer Forensic Testing Reports. Our community is made up of government, commercial, law enforcement and academics. We strive to provide an open forum for asking and answering questions without an advertising prejudice.

Can anyone who is a cyber forensic expert join CyberFETCH? How do they do so?

We encourage anyone interested in forensics to join CyberFETCH and the community is growing daily. Because CyberFETCH is sponsored by DHS, registrants must be citizens of the United States of America and provide a valid email address associated with a US-based government, industry, or academic institution.

You mentioned previously that you’re interested in interviewing key figures in the digital forensics community for CyberFETCH’s ‘Spotlight’ series. Please tell us more about this, and how Forensic Focus’ readers can get involved.

We’re just kicking off our interview series now, which we call our Cyber Spotlights. We’re highlighting significant (famous even) voices in the cyber/forensics community. The forensic community asks questions and the practitioners answer in their own words, no filtering. My crew here helps facilitate the discussions and record the results. We’re actually really excited about our lineup, and we have some pretty amazing people who have already signed up.

We would love if Forensic Focus’ readers would ask questions or even volunteer to be interviewed. I urge everyone to please take a look around, we’re always interested in feedback or input from people in the forensic world.

You’re also in charge of the PuriFile range; could you give us a brief overview of the products available and the challenges they seek to address?

PuriFile is a commercial product we’ve built over the last 10 years. It’s a commercial Data Loss Prevention (DLP) suite that understands Word, PowerPoint, Excel, PDF and various image formats so that we can pull the files apart, verify their innards and cleanse out any malicious or inadvertent data hidden within. We protect corporate sensitive information with our MS Exchange plug-in, classified networks embedded into over a dozen cross domain solutions deployed throughout the world and we protect personally identifiable information (PII) in our desktop installations. Although not used primarily as a forensics tool, PuriFile has many uses and is capable of identifying insider threats and even discerning patterns from a user’s behavior.

In your opinion, what are some of the most important challenges facing digital forensics practitioners today, and what should we as professionals in the field be doing to address these?

The biggest challenge I see for practitioners is the change in technology and the knowledge required to keep up. Technology changes so quickly that no matter what you study today, it’s outdated in a few months. I think we need to keep an open mind on new techniques and even newer tools even if they’re not perfect. There are a lot of open source tools out there that aren’t perfect but they offer a great start to a better solution.

Finally, what do you do in your spare time?

I’m an avid golfer and downhill skier and I enjoy working on cars but my true love is spending time with my family. I owe much of my success to the support of my beautiful wife and children that keep me grounded. It seems I’m always busy with my job, but my family time is very important to me.

CyberFETCH is a project by the Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology Directorate. It provides a range of features for digital forensics professionals, including tools, information and a collaborative platform. To find out more visit the official website at www.cyberfetch.org, and take a look at the Spotlight interviews at www.cyberfetch.org/spotlight

Leave a Comment