Brian, you're Director of Training at Oxygen Forensics. Tell us about your role; what does a typical day in your life look like?
As Director of Training my goal is to not only develop content to help Oxygen Forensics customers implement our products in their investigations, but also build a knowledge base for them to be successful investigators in the long term as new technologies and techniques hit the market.This involves researching the latest trends and technologies, maintaining our live and online certification trainings, presenting webinars on investigative techniques, and scheduling classes around the world to ensure our users worldwide have access to development opportunities.
What was it that first sparked your interest in digital forensics, and which training courses did you attend when you were starting out?
I have always been interested in computers. From a young age I would build computer systems so that I could play the latest games. With each new version of any game it seemed that my system was not robust enough, so I would have to bring it up to the specs the game called for. I was fortunate to be able to take computer programming classes in high school, and that background assisted me when I joined the Air Force Reserves.
While working for the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office in MN, I was promoted to detective and selected as a digital forensic examiner, I was sent to numerous training classes including Access Data Boot Camp and NCFI in Alabama.
When I first started out it was becoming apparent that phones were going to become a big part of digital forensics. I was intrigued by how mobile devices always presented me with a challenge to extract as much data as I could, so I began to learn everything I could about them.
In your opinion, what is the most challenging aspect of putting together a training course in this field? How do you address this?
In mobile forensics it is a challenge to keep everything current as app developers and device manufacturers are continually updating and releasing new versions of their software. Oxygen Forensics’ products are known for supporting an extensive portfolio of applications and I’m fortunate to have a product development team that is always looking forward to address the next generation of mobile technologies. Together with their help, the contributions of our training partners, and my own research and testing, we can build a curriculum that sets our customers up for success throughout their careers as investigators.
What can attendees expect to learn from Oxygen's courses?
Oxygen Forensics’ training courses are designed to offer insight into digital forensic investigations from start to finish, which means both beginners and long-time experts will walk away with the knowledge they need to excel in their roles.
Courses take a deep dive into the most common smart devices using Android, iOS, and Windows for students to gain familiarity with different operating systems, the types of data that can be retrieved from each, and their respective file system formats. Additionally, students will learn how to leverage advanced SQLite queries and plist files to discover the exact pieces of information relevant to investigations, whether an application is supported by Oxygen Forensics’ products or other forensic software.
Oxygen offers both online and in-person training; what are the advantages and challenges of each?
As an instructor, I appreciate the opportunity to interact with attendees and offer a hands-on learning experience through in-person training classes. However, not every customer is able to allocate budget or time away from the office to attend a live training, so our online learning management system offers a more flexible option for customers to take our courses at their own pace. We pair this with user forums and technical support lines to help address customer questions. At the completion of a course, attendees should be well informed and able to interact with our team regardless of which format works best for them.
What are some of the most common misconceptions you see from new students of digital forensics?
Some students who are new to mobile forensics expect to be able to plug a device in and click a button to retrieve everything they need. While support for certain applications makes collecting and using some information almost this easy, students quickly learn that there is far more information to be found by digging in and looking more closely.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to get started in digital forensics, what would it be?
Get all the training you can, when you can, and keep that training updated. This field is constantly changing, and there’s always something more you can learn.
Finally, when you're not working, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I enjoy spending time in northern Minnesota with my wife and two daughters, ages 7 and 9. While up north we enjoy spending time out on the lake, swimming, and fishing. I have also found a new hobby of building and designing my own fishing rods.
Oxygen Forensics offer data examination tools for mobile devices and cloud services, including solutions for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry and many others.