Robert O’Leary, Head Of Investigations For USG & Corporate, Nuix

Robert, your career in digital forensics began in the industry's infancy. What first brought you to high tech crimes with the New Jersey State Police?

I worked undercover narcotics investigations and I worked in a narcotic trafficking interdiction unit in the New Jersey State Police. Most, if not all, of the people we arrested for narcotics possession, distribution and trafficking had stolen, cloned or burner cell phones on them at the time of the arrest. Those phones generally went into an evidence bag and were never examined. I wanted to examine those phones for evidence or intelligence in our investigations. At the time, my wife worked for Bell Atlantic and we were at her office Christmas party. Her boss was a VP and told me if I ever needed anything to let him know. I took that opportunity to explain the challenge I had with the cell phones we seized.The following Monday morning, the Director of Bell Atlantic Mobile Security called me and invited me to his office. His team taught me to collect the data from the phones and gave us a ton of investigation support and introduced me to their counterparts at the other mobile phone companies.

Additionally, I got agreements that the mobile phone companies were the victims of theft of services in crimes committed with stolen, cloned and burner phones and I had authorization to acquire the data on the phones for evidence. I started to dump the cell phone data into databases to identify additional targets in narcotics trafficking and distribution networks and building larger cases.

This model became successful and I was asked to assist the NJ Auto Theft Task Force and other units in the NJSP and other agencies. Soon the New Jersey State Police saw the value in this investigation model and assigned me and Michael Geraghty to establish the NJSP High Technology & Investigations Support Unit in 1996, one of the first dedicated units in the United States.

You have an extensive CV, spanning both public and private sectors. What led you to Nuix?

Get The Latest DFIR News

Join the Forensic Focus newsletter for the best DFIR articles in your inbox every month.

Unsubscribe any time. We respect your privacy - read our privacy policy.

After retiring from the NJSP High Tech Crimes Unit, I was asked to serve as the Director of the National Institute of Justice Electronic Crime Partnership Initiative (ECPI), a project to bring together Subject Matter Experts from Law Enforcement, Government, Academia and the Private Sector to identify technology needs and solutions to the challenges State and Local Law Enforcement faced in preventing, investigating and prosecuting crimes committed or facilitated using electronic or digital based technologies.

After running the ECPI, I established the NIJ Electronic Crime Technology Center of Excellence and served as the Director. The ECTCoE was tasked with staffing, supporting and managing the NIJ Electronic Crime Technical Working Group (TWG), as well as writing the Electronic Crime Scene Investigation; A Guide for First Responders, 2nd Edition and the Electronic Crime Scene Investigation; An On-The-Scene Reference for First Responders. Additionally, the ECTCoE submitted 18 Electronic Crime Investigation & Analysis Tool Testing and Evaluation Reports which were published by NIJ.

When the ECTCoE budget funding was significantly reduced, I decided to close the Center instead of trying to continue to operate on what was roughly an 85% budget cut. After I closed the Center, I was the Director of Professional Services for AccessData.

Then, Dr. Jim Kent offered me a position with Nuix. Nuix had been on the ECTCoE tool testing & evaluation list when I closed the Center. From my preliminary testing and evaluation of Nuix at the ECTCoE, I knew it was a superior tool than anything I had used in my career and I jumped at the opportunity to join the Nuix team. I started as a Sr. Manager of Business Development for the Government team and trainer. I was offered a Sales Engineer position and then the Head of Investigations for USG & Corporate earlier this year.

Tell us a little more about your role as Head of Investigations, U.S. Government & Corporate. What does a typical workday look like for you?

The majority of my days are spent meeting with clients, understanding their needs, use cases and workflows and demonstrating to them how the Nuix product line is the solution to meet their needs and resolve the challenges they face in investigating matters involving large, complicated and disparate data faster and more comprehensively than any other solution. Most of these meetings are on site with the clients and prospective clients, which means a great deal of travel, but the opportunity to meet clients in person, discuss the problems they are responsible for resolving, and provide them the solutions is very rewarding.

Having experience that spans more than two decades across law enforcement, government and the private sector gives me an advantage in speaking with clients as I have investigated, examined and testified in a wide range of cases. I often have the opportunity to draw from those experiences to identify and propose solutions and workflows that will meet their needs and solve their problems.

What are some of the key differences, but also similarities, between these two customer groups?

Ultimately, the investigators’, examiners’, analysts’ and supervisors’ perspectives are similar across the public and private sector clients. They need to process and investigate data to substantiate or refute reports. While the details and specific circumstances differ among the clients I work with, the goals are the same, find and report the facts – but also do so in the most cost and time efficient manners possible. This is one of the reasons Nuix excels in finding the truth in a digital world and finding justice in a digital world.

I have conducted, supervised, collaborated and testified as an expert witness on investigations and examinations of digital evidence. Nuix clients and prospective clients know they can rely on my expertise and my recommendations they can rely on Nuix to meet their needs and expectations.

As digital technology and investigations have evolved, how have investigative bodies adapted, and how do companies like Nuix help?

As digital technologies and investigations have evolved we have seen an explosion in the number of sources of digital evidence that may contain information of investigative value as well as an explosion in the volume of data. The ability to collect and examine that data quickly is critical to the success of any investigative & analysis unit, department, team, etc.

Nuix gives them the ability to collect data from a vast range of sources including network shares, O365 & other Cloud repositories, web mail, computers, mobile devices and more. Nuix gives users the ability to perform early case assessment to prioritize datasets, process in place, and fully process, parse and analyze massive datasets.

As digital technology and investigations have evolved Nuix has anticipated and assessed the needs of the communities we serve. From streamlining user options to improving the speed of our already fast patented processing engine, Nuix is always on the cutting edge of performance. We listen to our constituents and develop the solutions they need. We have continue to address and meet those evolving needs and continually improve our solutions to provide our clients with the tools they need now and in the future.

During your time at Nuix, is there a particular accomplishment or milestone that stands out to you?

There are so many opportunities I have been fortunate enough to participate in here at Nuix that it is difficult to select just one that stands out.

Recently we had the opportunity to provide a Federal client a solution to process, search and review terabytes of data simultaneously leveraging the ElasticSearch back end and an extremely powerful custom-built processing computer. They were able to get through that huge volume of data in days, as opposed to the week they anticipated. The results of the examination and analysis were much better than they expected; they locked in on Nuix as their primary solution.

On the corporate side, we have been up against other competitors and the common theme is “Nuix does so much more than we realized or expected.” I have worked with global financial institutions that leverage Nuix products to collect, process and analyze data from multiple sources in multiple formats and examine all that data simultaneously in Nuix Workstation.

Our technology identifies key data, artifacts and links between otherwise unrelated pieces of information and reveals information of investigative value quickly. The ability to support multiple users in the same case at the same time, speeding the analysis process, is a major advantage.

But ultimately, I would have to say that our ability to process and perform link analysis on repositories of CyberTips spanning anywhere from days to years and finding common data in those tips allowing investigators to build cases, leverage ProjectVIC hashsets, and solve child abuse and exploitation cases faster is the most rewarding project I have worked on at Nuix.

What are the key challenges you see your customers encountering, and how does Nuix help them to address those?

I suspect the key challenges are volume of data and ever increasing file types and file formats, combined with the fact that businesses are expanding their global footprint. These factors add many layers of regulatory complexity to the mix. This adds to the tremendous burden organizations have to manage.

It also requires that they understand their data (and risk) when it comes to these investigations, as well as the standard compliance and regulatory obligations. Additionally, these factors impact organizations downstream when it comes to the, always inevitable, litigation events. And these are all areas where Nuix technology remains on the cutting edge.

One of the steps Nuix has taken to assist our users plan for and address these challenges is the innovative work the Nuix Development Team recently to make the patented processing engine even faster in the way it attacks and processes datasets. Another step is continually adding support for more file types in just about every version release. Nuix knows how to identify what our users need and how to meet those needs.

How do you see those challenges evolving into next year and beyond, and how is Nuix poised to address these future challenges?

I expect the volumes of data and range of file formats will continue to grow. Nuix has already proven our technology can and will continue to evolve to meet our clients’ needs and demands. I also expect our ability to detect and defeat password protection and encryption will continue to evolve to solve the challenges they present.

Leave a Comment

Latest Articles