Full Access to International Association of Computer Investigative Specialists: Mark Baker and Mario Merendon

Episode 14

Full Access to International Association of Computer Investigative Specialists: Mark Baker and Mario Merendon
Episode Summary

Mark Baker is the Training Manager for the International Association of Computer Investigative Specialists (IACIS) and Mario Merendon is the Chairman of the Mobile Device Forensics class. Together they bring a combined 40+ years of experience in law enforcement to this episode of Full Access. 

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Show Notes

[1:15] Meet Mark Baker 

  • Baker started his career as a Philadelphia Police Officer in 2001 and became a Detective in the Northern York County Regional Police Criminal Investigation Department in 2008 
  • Baker became a Certified Forensic Computer Examiner in 2009 and was the sole digital forensics examiner in York County until 2018, where he still conducts forensic investigations 
  • Baker joined IACIS training staff in 2010 and currently works as the Training Manager for IACIS 

[2:20] Meet Mario Merendon 

  • Merendon started his career in law enforcement with the Keller Police Department in Texas where he was an officer for seven years 
  • In 2013, Merendon became a Criminal Investigator with the Corinth Police Department; in 2016 he became a Computer Forensic Investigator at the Denton County Criminal DA’s Office 
  • Merendon became a Certified Forensic Computer Examiner in 2018, an IACIS Certified Mobile Device Examiner in 2020, an Investigator for Lockheed Martin in 2021, and is now the Chairman of Mobile Device Forensics class at IACIS 

[14:40] Full Access Host Wilton Cleveland asks Baker and Merendon to explain how they got involved as instructors, trainers, and managers with IACIS 

  • Baker tells listeners that he immediately became a peer review coach after becoming IACIS certified in 2009, and reveals the position he was first approached to fill in 2010 before becoming the Training Manager at IACIS 
  • Merendon shares that his journey was like Bakers in that he became a peer review coach after becoming certified and how he wanted to be a part of helping others get certified 
  • Everyone at IACIS is a volunteer 

[19:50] Full Access Host Debbie Garner asks Baker to define the mission of IACIS 

  • Baker points listeners to the IACIS website, where it says that “IACIS is a non-profit, volunteer organization wholly dedicated to training, certifying and providing membership services to computer forensic professionals around the world. Formed in 1990, IACIS has enjoyed steady international growth as it has matured into a well-respected professional organization of international acclaim.” 
  • In other words, says Baker, we train forensic examiners 

[21:51] Garner asks Baker to discuss training and certifications offered by the IACIS in more detail 

  • Baker shares with listeners that IACIS has classes that span the entire spectrum of forensics and are delving into investigative classes they will start offering in 2023 
  • In addition to their flagship Computer Forensics Examiner Course, IACIS also offers specialized classes in Scripting, RAM Capture and Analysis, Network Intrusion, and more 
  • Baker says that there are several membership categories to choose from when joining IACIS to participate in training 

 

[29:30] Cleveland asks Merendon to dive deeper into the IACIS Mobile Device Forensics Course 

  • Merendon informs listeners that there are both online and in-person versions available for people interested in the Mobile Device Forensics Course 
  • There are no prerequisites for the class, but Merendon recommends having some experience with mobile examinations is helpful 
  • Students learn about basic triage, securing evidence, passing knowledge on to patrol and more during the Mobile Device Forensics Course that culminates in a two-part exam and chance to earn a certification 

[34:46] Merendon discusses trends he’s seeing regarding mobile devices 

  • Merendon names storage capacity resulting in longer extractions times 
  • Merendon also calls out encryption and states that he believes Grayshift stepped up and changed the game with GrayKey 
  • Merendon discusses how OS updates constantly change the landscape of how data is analyzed 

[41:55] Baker and Garner shift the conversation to discuss how the IACIS instructors stay knowledgeable and keep up with technology 

  • Baker says working on class development all year long and having two in person training committee meetings to discuss what’s being taught and how it’s being taught is imperative to keeping up with the changing technology landscape 
  • Specialized classes all have a chair who is responsible for keeping course material updated and participating in a peer review process to ensure information is relevant 

[43:25] Humans of IACIS 

  • Garner calls attention to her favorite page on the IACIS website, Humans of IACIS to discuss how much she loves that it shows we are all individuals with interests outside of our jobs and employments 
  • Baker and Merendon said this page are like showcasing your family members; it’s the passion of the volunteers that makes IACIS special 

[53:00] What advice would you give to those just starting in digital forensics? 

  • Baker says his advice is to keep up with training, ask questions, involve yourself with a community (like IACIS or the DFIR community on Twitter) you can reach out to, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes 
  • Merendon’s advice is to take advantage of free training opportunities and like Baker, ask questions because the community is full of people who are ready and willing to help you learn and grow 

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