Thursday, May 17, 2012

Interview with John Patzakis, Founder and CEO of X1 Discovery

John, the last time you were interviewed at Forensic Focus you were the Vice Chairman and Chief Legal Officer at Guidance Software. Now you're the founder and CEO of X1 Discovery - tell us about that move.

I am proud to have been a co-founder and part of the senior team at Guidance Software for ten years. The early days at Guidance were exciting as we sowed new fields, just as we are doing now at X1 Discovery. At Guidance, we first pioneered Windows-based forensics, which was the new paradigm and represented an order of magnitude improvement over Dos-based forensics. Then circa 2004, we introduced and championed the concept of enterprise in-house eDiscovery, a strategy that ended up being Guidance’s main force of growth leading to our IPO in 2006.

So after leaving in 2009 and engaging in consulting projects through 2010 I began discussions with X1, an Idealab Company that I always thought had excellent search technology for both the desktop and the enterprise. At first the intent was to sit on the board as an investor but then I learned about the IP they were developing for social media, and I also became excited about the promise of X1’s enterprise server to be a very robust eDiscovery early case assessment and first pass review solution. So to make a long story short, the board at Idealab – which is our parent company -- offered to have me head up X1 Discovery as a spin-off to X1 Technologies, with ownership of all our intellectual property. It was a great opportunity and the Idealab board has been very supportive and enabled me to recruit some outstanding talent and assemble a great team.

What does X1 Discovery do? What makes it different from the other eDiscovery companies which have entered the market in the past few years?

At X1 Discovery we are pioneering the new fields of forensics and eDiscovery of social media and cloud-based data. I have always been interested in where the puck is going as opposed to where it is now, and we believe the X1 Discovery’s disruptive technology is already years ahead of the field. We accomplished this by leveraging our vision and industry experience to effectively build on the patented X1 Search Technology.

Tell us more about your products, X1 Social Discovery and X1 Rapid Discovery.

X1 Social Discovery, launched in October 2011, is basically like EnCase or FTK for social media and website collection. It is a desktop application specifically designed for computer investigators and legal professionals that we believe is the clear market leader in its class. X1 Social Discovery’s two core benefits are scalability and defensibility. It can collect tens of thousands of social media items in a few hours and up to millions in a few days, and then instantly search and filter those items with the patented X1 fast-as-you-type indexed search. X1 Social Discovery is very defensible as we are establishing a chain of custody with case management, evidence segregation, logging, and MD5 hashing of all collected items. Also, social media sites are accessed read-only, which is important as visiting a live Facebook page can easily cause changes to the page and its metadata. Finally, we collect all available metadata on social media sites. A Facebook item alone has over two dozen unique metadata fields and we preserve and collect all of them.

Our other product, X1 Rapid Discovery is a proven, and now with the release of version 4, a truly cloud-deployable, eDiscovery and enterprise search solution that enables users to quickly identify, search, and collect distributed data wherever it resides in the IaaS cloud or within the enterprise. Just this past week we were the first eDiscovery company accepted into the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Solution Provider program. Importantly, its a non-appliance software solution that is very easy to install and configure. So in addition to the cloud, X1 Rapid Discovery is quickly deployed in the field on the investigator’s own hardware to collect data from servers and/or to index, cull and search through up to terabytes of collected data...

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Interview with Noreen Tehrani, Applied Trauma Psychologist, NTA

Can you tell us something about your background and why you decided to work in the field of applied trauma psychology?

I have had a very mixed career; I have worked in medical research, as a retail operations director, property development, Head of a counselling service and running my own company. I think that the fact that I have had lots of experience doing different things has been really helpful to me. Although I love research, at heart I am a practitioner and enjoy working with people and organisations to help them to have happy and healthy lives.

I don’t think that I set out to be an applied trauma psychologist – it was just that the work was interesting and I could see that it helped people deal with difficult issues.

Tell us more about applied trauma psychology - what does your work involve and who do you aim to help?

I work with lots of different organisations and kinds of people. My main areas of expertise are in psychological trauma, bullying and harassment and psychological rehabilitation. I have worked with victims of major incidents such as 9/11 and the 7/7 bombings as well as natural disasters, transport deaths, rapes and other crimes. My goal is to help organisations prepare for crisis and disasters by training and preparing their employees and when a crisis occurs to help the organisation to deal with it to limit the damage caused to the workforce. I have developed a number of psychological tools which help people to recover from stress, burnout and psychological trauma.

What experience have you had working with digital forensics professionals?

The first time I worked with digital forensic professionals was around ten years ago. A commercial forensics organisation had taken over some work on Operation Ore and the young forensic examiners were having problems in dealing with the impact of the images they were assessing. I later became involved in supporting other forensic examiners who were working in Eastern Europe where they felt that they were in very threatening working environments with little support. More recently I have become more involved with law enforcement officers working with child abuse. This is a really interesting area of work and I find that the people involved in this work are really dedicated and keen to push the boundaries of their knowledge of computer forensics to the limits.

What are the short and long term effects of working with the kind of disturbing material which digital forensics examiners often encounter in their work?

I think that it is relatively easy to see that some people will never be able to deal with the distressing images, sounds and dialogue that are part of the examiners world. Some people fail within the first few days of being exposed to the material. However, perhaps more difficult is the slow grinding down of the digital examiner's resilience which can happen over months or years. People who have handled this kind of work may suddenly find that they are unable to deal with it any more. I think that most people have a “shelf-life” for dealing with the most distressing material and need to take a break. The initial reaction to distressing material is the shock and disgust it causes, the fact that people will do things that most of us could never imagine. This is particularly distressing when the victim is a child. The real problems relate to the trauma reactions that this shock can create. The way our brains work is to try to protect us from anything that could cause harm. The common response to a traumatic exposure is to a) try to avoid further exposure b) become hyper alert or aroused to the material or thoughts about the material and c) to have dreams, flashbacks or constant thoughts about the exposure. People can also become irritable, detached and start using “self-medication” (caffeine, alcohol, drugs – prescribed and otherwise) to handle their symptoms. Often relationships suffer as normal loving relationships are affected by the impact of the material...

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