Introducing our newest member of the Training Team, Amanda Fields
Amanda joins us from a background investigating ICAC cases. She enjoys learning from her students and her favorite part of a course is the “lightbulb” moment that students have when learning. Let’s get to know Amanda!
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MF: Tell us about your life before becoming a Trainer.
AF: I worked for 10 years as an Emergency Medical Technician prior to transitioning to law enforcement. I spent 14 years working at a local police agency just outside of Dallas, Texas. 10 of those years were spent as a Detective investigating primarily child crimes. I joined the North Texas Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force and was the first within my agency to investigate ICAC cases. I was also able to build our ICAC Unit and a digital forensics lab within the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) where I was housed, which supported not only my agency, but several other local, state, and federal partners.
MF: What made you want to be a Trainer?
AF: I spent a lot of time training other law enforcement, the community, and youth within our schools about child exploitation and digital forensics. It was rare for me to get to interact with other digital forensic examiners since there were so few in my area. As a trainer, I love being to share something I am passionate about with others that have the same interests.
MF: What type of training have you taken part in personally? What is your favorite part of the role?
AF: I have been to courses with IACIS, NW3C, Cisco, CompTIA, NCFI, SANS and a lot of vender specific training. Every class I take shows me how much more I have left to learn.
MF: What excites you the most about a new class?
AF: A new class means new connections and new ideas. I enjoy sharing experiences with others working in digital forensics. Everyone has a personalized perspective and different workflow. Those interactions are what makes each class unique.
MF: Do you ever learn anything from the students?
AF: Every single class. Digital forensics is constantly evolving, and I look forward to learning from students who are out there seeing the newest trends and learning how the tool can help them do more efficient exams.
MF: Is there a particular moment that stands out the most to you in your career in the classroom?
AF: It’s that “lightbulb” moment. It could be learning a new way to find things within the tool or understanding where the different artifacts are sourced from. Seeing the “lightbulb” moment is the best part of teaching.
MF: What do students get out of training in person that they can’t get on their own?
AF: The interaction is always the best part of in person training. You can’t beat the conversations and networking that happens when you spend time together in the classroom. The learning doesn’t come just from the instructor, but also from the other students. You don’t get the same type of connection in a virtual classroom.
MF: How prepared do you feel students are to use Magnet Forensics products after taking the training course?
AF: After training, students have the knowledge to immediately put the tool to work. Using a case study in the classroom sparks different approaches that apply in real world examinations. Even if students had already been using the tool, often they learn a more efficient way to use it, making them more thorough and efficient in their investigations.
MF: What is most unique about Magnet Forensics’ approach to training?
AF: The hands-on, interactive approach. The classes are adaptable to all levels of learning. Students can ask questions using their own experiences and trainers can apply those questions toward the case study in the classroom. We can make the tool work for them and when something is missing, we genuinely want to know. We listen to the students needs and pass them on, so the tool can be exactly what the customer needs. Learning and evolving is what digital forensics is all about.
MF: Why do you think certification is important to examiners?
AF: Coming from a law enforcement background, you must prove proficiency in all skills. The exams you do in digital forensics have long reaching effects, whether criminal or civil. Certification is a way to validate your knowledge and it formally recognizes your proficiency using a set standard. Certifications can be pivotal in courtroom testimony where you are often required to be the subject matter expert and having the certification instill trust that you can perform the skills needed.
MF: How do you manage to keep up on the latest trends in digital forensics?
AF: This could potentially be a long list. I often find myself in an internet rabbit hole of research and snap out-of-it hours later wondering where the time went. I am always learning. I use Reddit, Discord, YouTube, various podcasts, blogs and webinars, all while continuing my formal education. I also read white papers, published books, reference manuals and user guides. Interaction with coworkers, students and other examiners are also a big part of how I learn about all the latest trends.
MF: What trends do you see coming down the pipeline in digital forensics?
AF: As storage increases in size and decreases in cost, examiners will see data sets continue to grow. There are very few examiners in law enforcement. Artificial Intelligence, automation and cloud computing will become even more important for those examiners to complete investigations in an acceptable time frame. We will always need the human component, but in order to complete exams quickly and efficiently we will come to rely on even faster processing and the help of automation.
Thank you, Amanda! Welcome to the Training team and to Magnet Forensics overall—we look forward to seeing your future contributions.
Read our previous interviews with VP Training Chuck Cobb, Director of Training Operations Jamey Tubbs, Chris Vance, Patrick Beaver, Doug Estes, Lyn Goh, Larry McClain, Hoyt Harness, Jerry Hewitt, Chris Blight, Erich Schmidt, and Justin Almanza.
Click here to go to the Magnet Forensics Training and Certification Portal.