A Time of Reflection

Tuesday, December 13, 2011 Posted by Corey Harrell
Certain events in life cause you to reflect on humility and put back into perspective the meaningful things in life. You remember that in time almost everything is replaceable. Another forensicator will fill your shoes at work and your organization will continue to go on. Another researcher will continue your research and the little that you did accomplish will eventually just be a footnote. Another person will step up to provide assistance to others in forensic forums and listservs. Your possessions and equipment will become someone else’s to enjoy and use. When looking at the big picture, the work we do and value will eventually fade away and life will go on as if we were never there. One of the only things remaining will be the impact we make on others in the little time we have available to us. One doesn’t need a lot of time or resources to make an impact; all that’s needed is having a certain perspective.

Everyone should look out not [only] for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:4

Having an outlook that looks beyond one’s own self interests can positively impact others and I think the statement holds true regardless of religious beliefs. A perspective that takes into consideration others’ interests is displayed everyday in the Digital Forensic and Incident Response (DFIR) community. DFIR forums have thousands of members but there are only a few who regularly take the time to research and provide answers to others’ questions. DFIR listservs are very similar that despite their membership the minority are the ones who regularly try to help others. Look at the quality information (books, articles, blogs, white papers, etc) available throughout the community and their authorship is only a small fraction of the people in the community. These are just a few examples out of many how individuals within the DFIR community use their time and resources in an effort to not only better themselves but to educate others as well.

When I look at the overall DFIR community I think there’s only a minority who are looking beyond their own interests in an effort to help others. A few people have helped me over my career which contributed to where I am today. They never asked for anything in return and were genuinely interested in trying to help others (myself included). If the DFIR community is what it is because of a few people giving up their time and resources to make a positive impact on others, then I can only wonder what our community would look like if the majority of people looked beyond their own interests to look after the interests of others. In the meantime all I can do is to continue to try to remember to look beyond myself in every aspect of my life. To try to consider those around me so I can help whoever crosses my path needing assistance. When the day is over one of the only things remaining will be the impact I have on others.
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  1. Very good post, been seeing a view biblical references in forensic posts over the last few days, great and very apt for the time of year. How can more be done and what is the scope? I can envisage a forensic community "home" where all is shared, order is made of all blogs posts, all relevant tweets, google+ and facebook posts are seen. A constant live chat environment. Anybody can access and be endorsed into the entire community. People can ask for things they need and people can provide. Whitepapers and research all passes through the same space and the entire place is searchable. Anybody who sets up a new blog simply needs to, request, have it add to the list and the posts are shared.

    Is this a possibility? Then we can remove ourselves from our corporate or public job titles and let work but community based.

    Still it will only be a few that give more than others but with a community to really be home and least the possibilities of people contributing would greatly increase

  2. Corey, Excellent post. Too often, in most organizations and groups 20 percent of the members do 80 percent of the work. That said, I would like to contribute. I am fairly new to the DFIR community and would like to help. I don't have that much experience, but I am persistent and curious. Would you have some suggestions on area where I could contribute? Thanks for all your efforts and dedication. Merry Christmas -- Ed Hunter

  3. Sorry I was able to respond sooner; was out of town and I came down with something my kids brought home.

    @Forgery
    The post came about because of an event in my life and it's just a coincidence it's that time of year. Your comments reminded me about David Kovar's "Fragmentation of the Digital Forensic Community" since you described a central location for information to be shared and exchanged.

    http://integriography.wordpress.com/2011/03/27/fragmentation-of-the-digital-forensics-community/

    I don't know if any community can evolve to what you described; especially one that probably has thousands of members. I started the Digital Forensic Search as a way to search and locate information while I'm also considering potentially posting artifact information in an area where others can contribute. It would be cool to have that kind of community you described but I don't think it would be necessary as it relates to what I was discussing. I think it's about trying to exchange information in the little communities we are in so it can help others on a more smaller scale.

  4. @Hunter_Forensics
    There are different ways people contribute: developing tools, blogging, writing articles, helping co-workers/peers, and asking questions. These are only a few. One way is not better than another since everybody is different. As for suggestions I guess it really depends on what your interests are, what are you gifted with, and how you want to convey any information.

    For me, I initially started by looking locally for other DF people. Once I found them I then contributed what little I knew to the group. After a year or two I branched out by becoming more active in the win4n6 group. I asked questions and provided feedback to the few threads I could. Further down the road I started blogging to share any research on the topics that interested me. My best suggestion would be to start small on something you are interested in. Even the littlest contributions will help someone at some point and you will learn from others in the process.

  5. @Corey Harrell, Thanks for the ideas. I am joining the local chapter of HTCIA and start from there. I find memory analysis w/ Volatility very interesting. I think I may start there. Thanks again. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

  6. Corey, your post hits home with me. My focus up to now how been on the acquisition of knowledge at all costs with the intention of giving back once I had reached an "as yet undetermined" level of mastery. There have been people who have given me a leg up so far, but others who told me I was too junior to know what I am talking about. Today is the day that I no longer hear the words of the second group of people. Like any good computer roped into a DDOS, I will contribute whatever cycles I can to the cause. It will be enough.

  7. fpi

    Corey, thank you for your words.
    You're right: our efforts are nothing if without a larger scope. Hoping the best for you and for everybody.

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