Eddie, can you tell us something about your background and your current role as CEO of Nuix?
I joined Nuix as CEO in 2006 after working for quite a few high-growth finance and technology businesses. What I loved about Nuix was the precise detail the software could expose about the information it indexed. Having that degree of detail at scale could make a huge difference to the way an investigation played out.
After about a year with Nuix, it became clear to me we couldn’t take on Access Data and Guidance directly –they owned the forensic investigation market. So we expanded into eDiscovery, and later information governance, as a way of growing the business. In 2011, having reached a more tenable scale, we decided to go back into investigations. That has been one of the most satisfying aspects of my time at Nuix.What products and solutions does Nuix offer?
Nuix offers products and solutions for forensic investigation, eDiscovery and information governance. There’s a fair amount of overlap between those categories, for instance our Enterprise Collection Center technology for gathering evidence in the field is used by investigators and for eDiscovery and our processing engine underpins all three verticals.
Indeed, at the heart of these products is our patent pending unstructured data indexing engine. The Nuix engine has unique load balancing, fault tolerance and intelligent processing technologies that enable it to process huge volumes of unstructured data at high speed and with forensic certainty.
How does the Nuix product lineup compare with that offered by other companies? Are there specific areas where you feel Nuix is particularly strong?
Nuix’s core strength has always been our ability to process virtually unlimited quantities of unstructured data really fast. We also provide user interfaces that are well designed for investigators to search and interact with data. Our technology is really good at extracting intelligence items – email addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers, social security numbers, amounts of money – and cross-referencing them over many, many data sources. We also help investigators understand the relationships between people and their communications.
Our final strength is big data. For some of our competitors, a terabyte of data is something they hope a cluster of their servers will be able to process without falling over. For us, a terabyte is tiny. In one recent client engagement we processed 100 million emails and documents per day. That added up to 330 terabytes over six weeks.
Some people in the forensics community have criticized us for not having all of the capabilities of other forensic toolsets. However, we’re just about to bring out the next version of Nuix Investigator which includes everything on their wish list: processing of slack and deleted space, a hex viewer, registry search and the ability to index and search all major mobile phone forensic images.
Does this mean we will now compete directly with Access Data and Guidance in forensic investigations? When the next version of Nuix Investigator comes out, yes. We will match their features, but our technology scales better, makes searches easier and doesn’t fall over with large amounts of data.
What trends do you see in the industry and what challenges do you envisage in the future? How will Nuix evolve to meet those challenges?
The biggest challenge for the forensics industry is the growing volume of data, held in increasing numbers of devices, that investigators must examine in less time and with smaller budgets. Each suspect may have several desktop or laptop computers, tablet devices, smartphones, flash memory devices, cloud storage accounts and the rest. Consumer hard drives can have a terabyte of storage or more.
Nuix’s response to this challenge is to give investigators the ability to process multiple terabytes of data per day from any sources on small hardware footprints and enable investigations across all of them at once.
What would you most like to see changed or improved in the field of digital forensics?
Efficiency. As I’ve said, the number of devices is increasing, the volume of data is growing out of control and more people are using digital communication as part of their criminal activities. The old technique of picking out the five devices most likely to contain incriminating evidence for in-depth investigation was never intelligent and should stop. Investigators need to look at all the data available, search it quickly and easily, come to the right conclusion and move on to the next case. Otherwise you lose opportunities.
What is the most rewarding part of your job? What aspect of your job do you find most challenging?
Obviously, it’s very rewarding knowing some of the really important investigations our software is used on, and the positive outcomes we’ve helped the authorities achieve.
Something else I’m really proud of is our not-for-profit product Proof Finder. We charge $100 for an annual license, you can investigate up to 15 gigabytes of data at a time and every cent raised goes to Room To Read, which builds schools in developing countries. Since we launched Proof Finder a year ago, we’ve raised more than $70,000 and nearly completed construction of our first school.
Nuix now has 130 employees across six countries, with customers in 35 countries. It’s a 24×7 organization, so we have meetings at some very interesting hours of the day and night. In the past two years, the company has grown five-fold. So my challenge is keeping that momentum and ensuring we operate as efficiently as possible while we continue to grow.
What do you do to relax when you're not working?
Before Nuix I used to go sailing. Now I spend time with my family. My wife and I have three wonderful boys aged seven and under. I’m always amazed by the phases of their growth and the different ways they develop. They’re always learning new things and overcoming challenges like riding a bike without training wheels, reading their first book or diving into a swimming pool. It’s wonderful.