Tell us about your role – what does a day in your life look like?
As a head of research (CTO) at HancomGMD, I’m in charge of R&D and development organization management. Checking the progress of development, managing technology issues, and responding to customer service requests are the daily rounds of my work life. HancomGMD is in the digital forensics industry, where the importance of product quality assurance cannot be overemphasized. That’s why I am also in charge of the quality management team to thoroughly perform quality assurance, aside from being the director of research.Since customer satisfaction is the first priority, HancomGMD always values customer feedback when developing a product. As a visionary CTO, I focus my energy on offering a way forward for the future to accelerate the development of the industry-leading product integrated with new technology which can cover global trends before anyone else.
What was it that first sparked your interest in digital forensics?
About 10 years ago, around 2005, it was at the security conference when I felt sure that I’d have to decide on a career in this business area. While taking sessions at the seminar, I thought about extending digital forensics technology to mobile devices, and how significant a ripple effect would be on the whole industry, which gave me a strong conviction about mobile forensics.
In the early days around 10 years ago when most people were using feature phones, I imagined what it would be like in the future when all people would always carry their own mobile devices to send and receive personal data, and that each of the mobile devices would possess all the information about the holder. Accordingly, all I thought was about how much the value of the mobile device would increase, each time reaching the same conclusion with the certainty of success in mobile forensics.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background: how long have you been working in the industry, and how did you come to join HancomGMD?
About my background, I majored in computer science at Kyungpook National University in Korea. Back in my days at university studying hard on the major generated huge interest in computer technology, and I entered graduate school to concentrate on my research on computer image processing.
I was lucky to meet Hyun-soo Kim, the CEO of HancomGMD from the same graduate school. About 10 years ago, the moment that I felt certain of success in mobile forensics, I felt the same way with Hyun-soo Kim, who was sure of the success already and had been preparing for the business earlier than me, which served as an important momentum for my fresh new start in mobile forensics, and more than 12 years have already passed since then.
What solutions and products does HancomGMD offer?
HancomGMD has developed mobile forensics software and hardware which support digital investigations through data recovery and application analysis in mobile devices and has provided total mobile forensics solutions, MD-Series, for data extraction and analysis from any type of mobile device with integrated cutting-edge mobile forensics technology, and from mobile devices burnt by fire, broken by shock, drowned in water, providing the solution for each case, MD-BOX for JTAG forensics, MD-READER for Chip-off forensics, MD-MR for memory removal, covering the full range of physical work related to extraction.
MD-LIVE, the newly launched product, supports extracting data directly in the field within minutes without any change on the phone or capturing the mirrored screen of the phone as an evidence. Also, HancomGMD provides new digital forensic products for video data stored in various devices and document files.
HancomGMD has a particular focus on mobile forensics – what are the main challenges associated with analyzing mobile devices, and how do your products address these?
All companies in mobile forensics as well as HancomGMD may have faced the same challenges. As a provider of software for data extraction and analysis from mobile device to make evidence, the first challenge we face is that as we have more and more smartphones with increased security, data extraction is getting increasingly difficult. Strong user-data encryption and increased anti-forensics with an intelligent methodology of device factory reset or intentional data deletion through various ways mean that a relatively small amount of data is recovered. Another difficulty is the trend of storing data in the cloud rather than in the mobile device.
HancomGMD is developing more powerful solution equipped with reverse engineering technology, logical acquisition technology, data decoding and decryption technology, etc. and we are increasing the number of models available to extract and analyze data from it. Also, HancomGMD concentrates on cloud forensics solutions to extract the data from cloud storage directly to keep pace with today’s trends.
How does your software compare with other popular forensic software packages? What are its main advantages? Which areas do you think could be improved upon to make it more competitive?
HancomGMD’s main competitiveness is that more than 900 applications can be analyzed using HancomGMD’s software, and we support a lot of mobile devices, mostly specialized in Asian phones made by Korean handset manufacturers of Samsung and LG. Additionally, HancomGMD is doing lots of research on Chinese smartphones from Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi, ZTE, Lenovo and etc.
MD-Series, HancomGMD’s mobile forensics total solution, is easy to use with an intuitive user interface even for the first encounters. It also helps users minimize work time with high performance of data analysis engine and supports different acquisition methods, including data extraction from devices that have been severely broken, burnt or drowned.
Lastly, HancomGMD has the full range of mobile forensic products including software and hardware, and technical support requested from forensic investigators.
To stay competitive in the market, HancomGMD is working on development of technology for unlocking devices and decrypting encrypted data. Also, HancomGMD is rolling out products in new fields of IoT forensics, drone forensics, and car forensics to be the leader in the industry.
What plans do you have for the future? What can we expect to see from HancomGMD over the next few months?
HancomGMD focuses on the development of two products, MD-VIDEO and MD-CLOUD, before everything else. MD-VIDEO is receiving great attention from customers today. As security issues are becoming increasingly important nowadays, it’s increasingly critical to secure evidence data from black box, CCTV, or DVR.
Along with today’s trend of storing data in the cloud all the time instead of on mobile devices, HancomGMD is currently developing MD-CLOUD, the solution for data recovery from the cloud.
HancomGMD possesses a full line-up of mobile forensics products with software and hardware products, and continuously develops innovative new products. I’m confident that HancomGMD’s solutions will be the customers’ choice possessed with unrivaled high technical skills in the industry to meet the needs of customers seeking solutions for mobile forensics.
Finally, when you're not working, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
In my free time, I usually enjoy reading all genres of books, listening to music. I think it’s indispensable to build extensive knowledge to create new ideas and I am well aware of how much information is needed to build up to make one single idea. Other than that, I play golf together with many different people talking to each other and sharing ideas to get inspiration.
Kyung-Su Lee is Chief Technology Officer at HancomGMD, a mobile forensics company providing hardware and software solutions for the digital forensics market.