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I am a geologist by training, but as I did my PhD back in the 1980s I got involved in the early days of main-stream personal computing, and my true skill base lies more in getting computers to do the work of lots of people rather than anything rock related. That has the very agreeable side effect of leaving geology as a hobby rather than a job!
The UK Register of Expert Witnesses grew out of an internal ‘database’ project in my father’s legal practice in Chorley. I was finishing off my PhD and wanted to travel around Australia whilst my old man thought that his list of experts probably had some commercial potential. He agreed to fund my excursion down under if I spend a year on his project when I came back. As I sit here 22 years later, I think I won on both fronts! more ...
I never expected to be here. I was an electrical engineer 25 years ago when my company at the time needed people to start working on “cellular telephones”. It sounded good to me so I joined that group. Cell phones were just coming out on the market, but there were lots of problems so the industry formed a “standards group” that consisted of engineers from everybody in the industry. We met at least once a month for a week somewhere in the world and solved problems. For example, we developed roaming so that a subscriber could use their phone outside their home service area. That was ground breaking at the time. More recently we developed a standard “Picture Phone”. When picture phones came out, each company had their own system. We sat in meetings for a year and agreed on a single design so that customers could send pictures to friends who had phones with different cell phone companies. In the future you'll see more great stuff. We've designed a system so you'll be able to get up to 40 TV channels on your mobile phone. Most households only watch six channels. You'll get to pick the channels you want. We also designed 911 and wiretap for cellular phones. more ...
I’ve worked in IT for almost 20 years and around 10 years ago was involved in writing Intranet and Internet based systems for highly secure environments in the UK. That led on to needing to understand the complexities of security, then securing their systems, then investigating when things went wrong. I found that I loved the investigative side and turned to Computer Forensics full time about 6 years ago.
What does your current role involve? Can you describe a typical day?
I am fortunate that my work is varied and fascinating. One day I may be doing a standard disk-based investigation, the next day researching the data stream in a protocol, next teaching RAM analysis and the following night I’m in a covert van with an antenna pointed at someone’s router. more ...
I decided to specialise in forensics after meeting a bunch of lads from the Hi-Tech Crime Unit at a conference in London in about 2002. For a start, they had all this groovy kit on their stand, which induced serious Gadget Envy. But when they described what they actually did, I was totally sold. I'd spent a long time in undercover investigations, so the idea of snooping around systems for dodgy deeds really appealed to me. I also jump at any chance to get my screwdrivers out and take stuff apart. It was a dream combination.
Can you tell us something about the type of work you do now?
I mostly do Corporate and Legal investigations. Largely, these involve fraud, IP theft and staff computer misuse though I have also turned up evidence of drug dealing and software piracy. more ...
I have not always been in the academic world. I started out in the military, serving for some 29 years in the British Army. I first became involved with programming computers in the early 60s when machine code was still the main language and we were looking at how these new devices might be used for military command, control and communications.
By the greatest of good fortune, I was posted to Lincoln Laboratory at MIT in 70/71 and there I was tasked with developing the software that would bring the laboratory onto Arpanet as network node number 10. We had no appreciation then that this was just the beginning of what was to become the Internet. more ...