That is how I entered the world of digital forensics. At the age of 19, I started my career in Law Enforcement in ten-print and latent print identification while working my way through college. Fresh out of college, I was afforded the opportunity to become an Intelligence Analyst. I knew everything and absolutely nothing all at the same time. As a youth on the mean streets of rural Arkansas, I always wanted to be a treasure hunter. So, hunting for intelligence was my compromise over diving in the Caribbean looking for gold.  

I was taught early on that if there was a need and you were asked, then you do not turn down the opportunity to help your team out. While working as an Intel Analyst, the need for a full-time Audio and Video Forensics Examiner arose and I was quickly  volun-told that I was going to fill that role. Insert kicking and screaming here. I was out of my comfort zone that I had been in the last couple of years, and I had a lot to learn.   

Fast forward a handful of years and I had the opportunity to work for an agency as an Intel Analyst again. During those years in A/V Forensics, I had developed a love of the forensic process but thought it was a good opportunity so off I went on the next adventure. It was not long afterward that I was beginning to miss the forensic science field. It seemed more absolute in nature and I liked that. It also felt a lot more like that “treasure hunt” I always dreamed of — just with more fluorescent lighting and fewer beaches. 

I have worked for some great bosses over the years, and I consider myself fortunate in that regard. My boss at the time was forward-thinking and decided we needed some type of digital forensics capabilities. Enter mobile forensics. Since I knew the difference between a keyboard and a mouse, I was the “computer guy” in the office. We quickly purchased a mobile forensic tool and with a lot of trial and error, I was up and running. We were able to extract logical data! Also, I was not exactly sure what the difference was between logical and physical data at that time. To say I was green would be an understatement. Again, I was fortunate in that my boss understood the significance of proper training. So, he sent me everywhere we could afford. My first attempt at acquisition was a failure. Blast you BLACKBERRY! It was not the last failure. Anyone that has spent time in mobile forensics understands the term “It Depends.” We know it, we say it, we live it.   

That was over 16 years ago. I have worked on some incredible missions over the years from ICAC Taskforces to OCONUS laboratories with the military. I have spent that time not only hunting for those artifact treasures but trying to learn as much as possible and develop the most skills so I could be more of an asset to my team and the mission. During that time, I have witnessed a lot of changes and challenges in the field of mobile forensics. Sometimes it feels like we are back at square one attempting to extract and analyze data from these devices. It is and always will be a cat and mouse game. There will always be a discussion about consumer privacy versus protecting the innocent and finding justice. I still kick and scream occasionally, but these days it is usually for the success that Grayshift has had in providing a great service to those of you on the front lines, who are still protecting the innocent and finding justice. We all know it is not easy and the content you have to endure to do just that. Thank you all for what you do. 

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Josh Carder
Digital Forensics Specialist