How Do Criminals Communicate Online?

Flashpoint, a business intelligence agency specialising in the deep and dark web, recently published a report on the economy of criminal networks online. The report looks not only at where criminals go to communicate on the internet, but also how their communications are structured, and the ways in which online communication has changed the criminal landscape.

Far from the kind of jack-of-all-trades portrayed in TV dramas, today’s cybercriminals structure their operations much like a business, each person having their own specialisms and reporting to the people above them. This helps to ensure that every member of the network takes on tasks that don’t overwhelm them, and often also ensures that the level of communication is kept to a minimum. Each party is only in contact with the level directly above, thus decreasing the likelihood of breaking up the entire network if a single individual’s identity is uncovered by law enforcement.

Read the full article on ForensicFocus


Review – Windows OS Training From AccessData

From the 6th-8th of December 2016, AccessData ran a Windows course in a training centre overlooking Trafalgar Square in London, UK. The aim of the course was to familiarise forensic investigators with the Windows operating system and give an in-depth understanding of its potential for analysis in digital forensic investigations.

Continue reading “Review – Windows OS Training From AccessData”


Windows 10 Live Online Training From AccessData – A Review

From the 1st to the 3rd of November 2016, AccessData ran a live online training course to help forensic investigators understand the specific challenges presented by Windows 10, and how they can be overcome.

The course was aimed at people who already had a level of familiarity with both forensic investigation generally and with AccessData’s products, and took participants through all aspects of investigating a Windows 10 system.

Continue reading “Windows 10 Live Online Training From AccessData – A Review”


Five Things I Have Learned In Five Years As An Investigator

Tomorrow, the 1st of March 2016, marks my five-year anniversary as an investigator. I set up my first investigation business when I was still working at my old job (with their permission), and I’ve been through several iterations since.

Now, five years in, I’ve settled into my investigative identity. Here are some of the things I’ve learned along the way.

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Review – Learning iOS Forensics

9781783553518covI reviewed Learning iOS Forensics, by Mattia Epifani and Pasquale Stirparo, for Forensic Focus.

Learning iOS Forensics is a practical textbook that aims to help digital forensics examiners of all levels to get to grips with the procedures involved in forensically analysing iOS devices.

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Weekly Round-Ups

Do You Know Where You’re Going To?

…because I most certainly don’t.

I really want to write something inspiring (or at least interesting) but my brain’s at a stage of tired shutdown that won’t let me do that, so this round-up might be less exciting than the others.

That’s one of the things they don’t tell you about living your dream life: it’s bloody exhausting.

Continue reading “Do You Know Where You’re Going To?”

Weekly Round-Ups

Weekly Round-Up

This week I decided to reinvent myself. Not drastically, just enough. I threw myself into Version 25.1 a little too enthusiastically, and managed to break my toe in the process. Whoops.

On Monday I mainly slept: a huge, thirteen-hour dozefest to recover from the weekend of epicness. I gradually realised exactly how drunk I’d been as bits of it dropped back into my memory. Did I really admit that? Did I really say that? I know my accent went a bit weird (I have a habit of reverting to Glaswegian when drunk), and at one point I think I was speaking Romany. Which would have been fine, except that there weren’t any other Romany speakers at the party, so essentially I think I was just sitting in front of the fire babbling to myself in Gypsy language.

I remember one of my friends offering to build me a “pleasure machine”, and later the same friend saying I was “highly functional” in a surprised tone of voice. I took this as a compliment. Nice robot. Efficient Borg drone. Etc.

So, Monday and Tuesday were partly spent remembering Friday, Saturday and Sunday and also spent working on various things for my clients. On Tuesday night I decided to step it up a notch and create Version 25.1, so I spent some time writing her specifications into my Special Snakeskin Notebook and then went to bed secure in the knowledge that soon I’d be entering a New Scar Phase.

On Wednesday I woke up raring to go. Cleaned my house, did some investigation, walked the three miles into the centre of town, had a business meeting, worked on a case for a while, went boxing, had a shower, ran a youth group, went home, wrapped up the investigation, watched a movie to review on Geektown, and then realised I’d definitely broken my toe. Oh well.

On Thursday morning I had a call with one of my favourite clients, which was nice, and he said he’s happy with the job I’m doing, which was even nicer. Then I received an email in the same vein from another favourite client, and it made my day. When you work for yourself, you don’t get the same kind of validation you get when you’re in a company. Even when your boss isn’t the type to dole out praise when you’ve done a good job, you often have some idea of what’s happening with your work because you can see its effects, or at the very least guess at them. Working for yourself often feels like trying your absolute hardest and then sending the fruits of your labour out into the aether, just hoping that someone at least glances at it at some point. So it’s really good to hear when people are happy.

Thursday afternoon was mainly spent wading through emails and trying to close a deal I’ve been negotiating for what feels like a lifetime. No idea if it’ll ever come to fruition, but it’d be nice if it did. I also had a wonderful client call in which I was instructed to “sit down with a large glass of wine”, and which ended with the sentiment “You’re about to get a lot busier”, which is fantastic.

By the time Friday morning came around I was severely low on disposable cash, so I wandered down to the little shopping arcade near me and spent some time busking. Notable events included a very drunk lady who stumbled out of the betting shop, gave me £2 and told me she’d call Simon Cowell and tell him to come and listen. I didn’t bother explaining the whole ‘don’t want a record deal because I’m happy just playing my weird bashy operatic punk-folk in obscure venues to small crowds’ thing, so who knows, maybe he’ll drop by next time I’m singing on the street.

I also spent some time this week wading through Eoghan Casey’s Digital Evidence and Computer Crime, which is a hardcore 850-page textbook and which seemed to have a soporific effect on me. This was annoying because it was actually very interesting. But every time I read about thirty pages, my brain shut down and turned my eyes off, and then I’d find myself waking up a few hours later after having dreamed about buying a weird cabin house in the countryside and discovering a power shower hidden in an upstairs closet.

Eventually I got through the whole thing, and then had a brief Mary Higgins Clark break before moving on to another forensics textbook (a shorter one this time though). That was most of the weekend, interspersed with baking ginger cookies and spending about an hour on Sunday morning pulling the duvet over my head, listening to a gardening show on the radio and trying to convince myself that it’d be OK to stay in bed just a little bit longer. Still, Sunday ended with another French film, which was fun. I do find it hard to write reviews in English when I’ve watched the thing I’m reviewing in French though.

Oh, and I wrote another song. Longest one yet. I’ve nicknamed it “the creepy song”. It’s weird. And creepy, naturally.

Tomorrow I’m supposed to be going to a screening of Kick-Ass 2, to review it before it comes out in cinemas, but unfortunately the state of my left foot prevents me from doing so. I emailed the guy I’m writing for to tell him I’d broken my toe boxing and so couldn’t make it to the screening, and he replied with “There’s a certain level of irony in being unable to attend a Kick-Ass screening because you’ve injured yourself kicking ass”, which I quite appreciated.

Looks like tomorrow will be spent researching an article I’m writing instead, which should be fun, and reading the final forensics textbook in my queue.

This week I learned: All sorts of things about digital forensics. Which I’d no doubt be able to recall, if it wasn’t 1.47am and if I were slightly less exhausted.

This week I read: Digital Evidence and Computer Crime by Eoghan Casey, The Lost Years by Mary Higgins Clark, The Basics of Digital Forensics by John Sammon.

This week I watched: Plein Soleil, Populaire.

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