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Opinion: When Vendors Hire Research Talent, Where Does It Leave Research?

by Christa Miller

In the second half of 2019, a set of hirings made some waves in the digital forensics community. First, in July, Cellebrite hired well-known SANS Senior Instructor Heather Mahalik. Then in August, Mike Williamson joined Jessica Hyde, Christopher Vance, and others at Magnet Forensics. In December, the set completed when BlackBag Technologies hired likewise well-known SANS Senior Instructor Sarah Edwards.

“Name” researchers going to work for vendors is nothing new, of course. Amber Schroader founded Paraben in 1999; Lee Reiber took over as Oxygen Forensics’ Chief Operations Officer in 2015, while Edwards’ transition to BlackBag put her in the already well-established research powerhouse of Vico Marziale and Joe Sylve.

Then Cellebrite acquired BlackBag, consolidating that powerhouse together with Mahalik and a formidable R&D team. With that, the talent acquisition process began to feel more like a research ring match, with Cellebrite and Magnet Forensics trying to knock each other’s blocks off. Where does that leave research itself?

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