Shahar Tal, VP Research, Cellebrite

Shahar, tell us about yourself, your role as VP Research, and Cellebrite’s Security Research Labs.

I have the outstanding honor to work with one of the most brilliant teams in our profession. I lead Cellebrite’s Security Research Labs, which are dedicated to unlocking, extraction and analysis research, and development. We are the ones discovering new methods to extract data from all devices and data sources of interest.

While we’re mostly focused on Android and iOS devices, we have the skills to pick apart, study, and reverse engineer any device of interest, such as drones, wearables, and more. Cellebrite’s Digital Intelligence solutions empower agencies to access, manage, and leverage digital data to yield actionable results that move investigations forward. Digital Intelligence is the data extracted from digital sources that can be used for forensics and the process by which agencies access and manage that data.

My department is responsible for the research and development processes, from the inception of a new method to the delivery of production code. We work in unison with all departments within Cellebrite to fully execute and deliver our vision into our products and services.

What does a typical day look like for you?

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My day is spent talking with my leaders and co-workers over Zoom meetings, reviewing project progression, ongoing issues, technical challenges, and strategic growth plans. I try to reach out to every team member and pay special attention to what drives us forward, both as individuals and as a team.

How do you spend your spare time?

I try to spend my spare time with my family, I have two young children who are a blast to hang out with! In these pandemic times, this usually means playing with the kids at home or teaching them something interesting. We love traveling as a family and visiting theme parks, zoos, or farms. Late at night I will usually catch a Netflix show or movie together with my wife.

What are the big investigative and forensic challenges Cellebrite customers are facing these days, and how is your team helping them to meet them?

It’s quite evident that device access has become more and more difficult over the years. The ubiquitous deployment of advanced encryption schemes, combined with dramatic improvements in device operating system security, has pushed the technical challenges to new boundaries. My teams are fully equipped with the skill sets to solve these challenges and produce unmatched capabilities at a phenomenal rate.

What’s exciting you most about Cellebrite’s latest products and solutions?

I take great pride in the progress we have made in the breadth and depth of device unlocking and extraction support that we were able to provide to our customers. Cellebrite focuses on providing customers with tools and solutions to quickly access digital data and find hidden connections to solve cases faster.

While many other forensics providers made incremental feature releases this last year, no one has come close to matching UFED and Premium coverage, in respective comparison, by a wide margin. Cellebrite Advanced Services (CAS) continues to provide law enforcement customers around the world with groundbreaking technology, assisting investigative forces to uncover the truth and deliver justice everywhere.

How does your previous experience with vulnerability research inform your research for Cellebrite?

Working in concert with many other team members, I bring unique perspectives and experience in completing vulnerability research work on the latest technologies. We convert this domain understanding into a stream of previously impossible capabilities. This is one of the most beautiful things about our line of work – we literally create magic!

“Digital intelligence” can mean a lot of things. How does Cellebrite define it and how do Cellebrite’s solutions reflect that definition?

Cellebrite has a clear vision of transforming the investigative domain in ways that agencies today can only begin to imagine. The greatest minds in the company are working together to outline how to connect the dots from accessing, collecting, decoding, and analyzing the data, to creating investigative insights—all connected by robust management solutions.

We are determined to provide a range of solutions in this domain, wherever agencies and enterprises require the most. I believe in our leadership capacity both on the technological front and in reshaping the industry together with our partners, to complete the offering. Cellebrite’s unique leadership position creates this opportunity and Cellebriters are doing this with a passion and determination to make an impact for a safer world.

How did the pandemic impact your team, and how did your response ensure customers could still be served?

Luckily, many of our tasks are very suitable to “work-from-home” deployment as we have adjusted to stay-at-home measures. We replaced corridor conversations with ongoing chats, calls, and video meetings. Our global team is spread out across multiple continents, so this adjustment was natural for many of us. We keep in touch with all of our colleagues in the same way, supporting CAS activities, delivering new releases, and taking part in community forums.

What’s next for Cellebrite tools as 2020 comes to a close and 2021 approaches?

We are working on a number of extremely exciting new projects, all of which we expect to make a strong impact, redefine “what’s possible,” and empower our customers like never before. These types of projects naturally take time, but I can guarantee our customers will find value in the new offerings.

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