After touching down at Baltimore/Washington International Airport after an amazing week in Las Vegas at Guidance Software’s Enfuse 2016 conference on Computer Security and Digital Forensics, I felt a sense of awe. It was one of the moments where you think to yourself, “Wow. That just happened.” I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to attend this conference. I learned so much in all of the sessions, keynotes, labs, lectures, and other events. Having just finished my first year at Champlain College, I was both nervous and excited for this trip. I had a lingering fear that the information I was learning would be over my head. But much to my surprise, my classes at Champlain over the past year prepared me very well for this conference. I was able to hold conversations with industry professionals who have been working in my field for ten plus years with no hesitation. I cannot thank Guidance Software and Champlain College enough for giving me the exceptional opportunity to attend Enfuse 2016. I am hopeful to attend the conference next semester.
One of my favorite sessions over the week was, “Five Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make When Providing Forensics Testimony.” The session was a panel discussion that consisted of actual Forensic Investigators. Also on the panel was Sheryl Falk of Winston & Strawn, LLP, a lawyer who offered a lawyer’s perspective to providing expert testimony. The panel discussed the do’s and don’ts of providing expert testimony, while sharing personal experiences and providing advice and insight.
Mistake 0.5. Lack of Fundamental Prep
Christopher Novak said one of the biggest mistakes you can make when providing expert testimony is only preparing for the “tough” questions. He warned you need to know the basics of the case and be able to provide informed testimony on all aspects of the case.
“The Assumed Truth Question”
The experts said to be wary of any question being asked that has an assumed fact or answer, they may just be throwing something at you to see if you agree with them, but they may also be setting you up for a logical fallacy you may not catch in the moment.
Refusing to Answer the Question
David Cowen said you should never refuse to answer a question you’ve been asked on the stand. He said if even if you believe the question is a trap or if they are asking you to only choose yes or no, you still need to answer. If you cannot answer yes or no, then just explain why. Cowen also advised to never have a bias or opinion, stick to the facts.
You Know More Than They Do . . .
James Vaughn warned to always listen to the question being asked, never interrupt, help them formulate the question, or answer before they have finished asking their question. This is another trap you may fall into. An example Vaughn provided was they might be trying to see how you respond to a technically inaccurate question.
You Don’t Know, What You Don’t Know
Jonathan Rajewski discussed cases he was involved in where the expert testimony went bad. He stressed never to guess and don’t make assumptions with the data you find.
So You Didn’t Examine the Defendant’s Computer at All?
Overall, the biggest mistake you can make when providing expert testimony is not even looking at the evidence. Yes, that has happened before.
Attending Enfuse 2016 was one of the best experiences I have ever had. I am so thankful for the opportunity to attend with such little experience in the field. If there is one thing this week did for me was affirm my commitment to this field. Being able to network with professionals on top of learning the latest and greatest things going on in the field of Computer Forensics and Computer Security has been such a rewarding experience. I am beyond grateful to Champlain College and Guidance software; Thank you!