Product Features

Q&A: Chuck Cobb, Magnet Forensics’ New VP of Training

We all know the forensics industry needs to be credible and reliable to have its necessary impact in the courtroom. Magnet Forensics recently launched an expanded training program and its first certification – the Magnet Certified Forensic Examiner (MCFE). To build an industry-leading training program, Magnet Forensics brought Chuck Cobb on board as Vice President, Training. We took a minute to sit down with Chuck and learn what it takes to build a top notch training and certification program.

Magnet Forensics Blog: Why is a certification program so important to Magnet Forensics, and the forensics industry in general?

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Chuck Cobb: At Magnet Forensics, we know how important it is to show accreditation and add to the credibility not only of the products, but most importantly of the examiner. In a courtroom, the examiner, the judge, the lawyers, the jury – everyone needs to have confidence in the findings and the methods and we want to ensure we are helping our customers with that high level of credibility through a certification program.

The value of certification in the tech sector has skyrocketed in recent years. A key factor is the dynamic state of technology as a whole. What I mean by that is, traditionally you could predict a candidate’s ability based on post-secondary educational success and experience. But as technology progresses, it’s increasingly difficult for colleges and universities to quickly adjust curriculums to match the latest trends in technology. This has opened the field to private sector companies who can remain flexible to fill the accreditation space.

We all know that within the digital forensics community the impact of the work is extremely powerful. Quite literally, the freedom of an accused criminal can hang on the examiner’s findings. This responsibility demands that examiners possess, and can display, skills that are current, effective, and proven. A quality certification provides this.

MFB: What are the must-haves for a successful training program?

CC: A successful training program is built around curriculum that delivers both technical knowledge and hands-on skills used in the student’s daily work. It is imperative that you build the courses with a solid understanding of your audience and their needs and workflows.

For our specific student: the forensic examiner or investigator, we know that digital evidence must be handled in a precise manner built around methods that protect the integrity of the media/data to be examined, and a quality training program delivers training on proven and accepted best practices surrounding the handling of digital evidence.

I also want to note that a training program will only ever be as good as the people building it and running it. At Magnet Forensics, we have a staff of proven trainers who have worked real world investigations using our tools as well as other company’s tools. Our team knows how to go about finding and explaining forensic artifacts, and we build that know how into our course content. That content is delivered with the same sense of importance and skill the team has used in the field to close cases.

MFB: What are the pitfalls that people need to avoid when looking into training programs?

CC: If the training program you are looking at is a vendor-neutral program, you want to look at established leaders who have built their programs around best practices. Look at what SANS, NW3C, DCTIA and IACIS are doing, to name a few.

When exploring vendor-specific programs, people need to look for a mix of theory and practice – one or the other will not really show a depth of expertise. I would recommend that examiners look for certifications for tools that integrate into their regular workflow. Read reviews and ensure that the certification process is not handheld by the vendor – make sure the process itself looks and feels credible.

MFB: What can people expect from the training and certification programs from Magnet Forensics?

CC: Magnet Forensics has always focused on user input and working with our customers when building any product, and our training program is no different.

One of the great things I’ve learned about Magnet Forensics is that there is an openness to look at problems from different angles and find new ways to use our software to solve those problems. Growing our training and certification programs with that spirit of innovation, problem-solving, and doing good will help us maintain relevance and incorporate new standards.

When you’ve gathered industry experts who’ve worked investigations and been involved in the training of literally tens of thousands of forensics examiners, the results will set a new high watermark for the industry.

MFB: With the launch of Magnet AXIOM, how do you see Magnet Forensics’ training program evolving?

CC: Magnet AXIOM is a powerful tool, and as a company we are eager to show the forensic community how it can impact your investigations. When launching a new product and building a training program, it’s important to strike a balance between enabling new users and supporting existing ones.

We know there are examiners out there still relying on the power of IEF to conduct their investigations. Our current training line-up provides these users with the skillset and know-how to confidently support their findings and demonstrate their proficiency in the use of IEF. When it comes to Magnet AXIOM, we are working to build a new training curriculum that will instill the same level of confidence and knowledge in our users.

MFB: How should people reach out to your team for more information?

CC: Simple! Email us anytime at training@magnetforensics.com.