As 2023 drew to a close, Lee Reiber found a few minutes in his hectic schedule to offer us a look at the year ahead.
Q: What key industry trends do you see for 2024 that will have an impact on digital investigations?
A: Four trends come to mind immediately.
First, the growth in cloud data will continue to accelerate. Forbes forecasts spending by enterprises on cloud computing infrastructure will top $1 trillion for the first time.
Second, more than 20 years as an industry leader tells us the increasingly massive amount of digital data and applications driving record cloud usage will also increase the number of incidents requiring investigation and targeted collections of artifacts.
Third, the need for collaboration among industry, law enforcement, government agencies, and enterprises for successful investigations is greater than ever. Multiple factors are driving this, including the need to share data quickly from a distance, varying investigative abilities, and budget pressures.
Lastly, utilizing improved artificial intelligence and neural network capabilities will enable faster data parsing and identification, and increase the speed of investigations.
Q: Do you expect any legal or regulatory changes addressing these issues that we should keep on our radar?
A: I do not anticipate legal or regulatory changes, while always on my mind, but more demanding expertise when it comes to investigating an individual’s digital life. Analyzing digital evidence requires expertise and biases can creep into interpretations that could affect the outcome of an investigation. Ensuring investigators are trained and have a repeatable process will be critical. Furthermore, we are tasked with helping organizations overcome compliance and data protection challenges, and privacy regulations while also ensuring the ability to investigate internal incidents with digital forensics without violating laws. Lastly, new technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and quantum computing may bring new challenges in digital forensics. As a result, we as a company and investigators alike must be diligent in adapting our processes, technologies, and vectors to adhere to legal frameworks.
Q: Can you provide any insights into ethical considerations and challenges that digital investigators will face in light of these rapidly advancing technology and legal frameworks?
A: Digital forensic tools, especially mobile forensic tools, are often portrayed as hacking tools, which can create unwarranted scrutiny for investigators and companies like ours. This misconception generally comes from the belief that these tools are available to anyone and that anyone can now “break” into a phone and obtain its darkest secrets. In reality our customers are corporate investigators, service providers, government agencies, and law enforcement officers that use our tools to uncover the truth, no matter if it incriminates or exonerates. They — and we — bring light to the digital darkness.
Q: What sort of tools or methodologies is Oxygen Forensics exploring for 2024 to help customers succeed in their investigations?
A: In addition to our regularly scheduled releases, we have a number of exciting developments in the works that will provide access to more OS and device types and new cloud data.
Also, due to ongoing globalization, both our corporate and law enforcement customers often need to extract data in a different language from what’s on employees’ or suspects’ devices. To facilitate this process, we offer translation capabilities in Oxygen Forensic® Detective and Oxygen Corporate Explorer at no additional cost. So, for example, an investigator could search a device using English terms and find answers in Farsi or in any other 20 different language pairs. We’ll continue to add languages moving forward and plan to make translation available in Oxygen Analytic Center as well.
Another area of focus is helping users to expand their investigative abilities. In 2024, we’ll release a better UX for nontechnical users so more eyes can contribute to the resolution of a digital data investigation.
You also can expect to hear more about the creation of idea labs, an Oxygen Forensics 2024 initiative designed to promote collaboration among our experts, users, and prospective users to solve their digital problems. And we’ll announce a program of tiered support where, for an additional fee, a customer can have a dedicated support agent and dedicated direct-line email to reach out to as needed.
Q: One last question. As you look back on 2023, what would you say are the top three most important steps Oxygen Forensics took to drive customer success?
A: Last year we went deep on delivering changes and services to empower our customers. Especially, during the second half of the year, we broadened our Customer Support and Customer Success teams, including adding deployment support teams to ensure the success of large implementations.
We also created the Technology and Training Team, repositioning our Sales Engineering, Training, and Support teams under Keith Lockhart, who’s become our Vice President of Technology and Training. This move helps us not only to offer innovations in digital investigations, but ensures that our products and training reflect feedback from the field. Keith has a direct line to our Development team to share requests for important updates and enhancements that customers want to see built into the code. He also influences how changes are prioritized based on customer need and market urgency to help us provide in-demand products and related training curricula.
In conjunction with these changes, we released an enhanced customer portal with more intuitive functionality and expanded access to our online learning center. Now, once you buy an Oxygen Forensics product, your software maintenance and support package grants you full access to our online training materials housed in the Learning Management System at no additional cost. Users have the benefit of a safe, reliable portfolio of courses without having to decide how they’re going to pay for that resource.
We’re excited to build on these changes over the course of the coming months to bring our customers even greater success.