March 29-April 1 this year will see our Minnesota chapter hosting its 9th annual spring training conference. Its competitive lineup of sessions centers on computer investigation issues, tools and techniques, including:
- computer crime investigation
- cellular/smart phone analysis
- live forensics
- Windows 7 tips and tricks
- legal updates
- security issues
- internet evidence
Keynote speakers include Andy Crocker, COO of CyByL Technologies and subject of the book “Fatal System Error” by Joseph Menn, Marc Goodman from the Cybercrime Research Institute and Micheal Kobett from the Defense Cyber Investigations Training Academy.
“We took a page from the international conference’s playbook by focusing on topics this year, rather than on speakers we were already familiar with,” says Jason Bergum, Minnesota chapter president. “As a result, we have a much more diverse lineup. Jim Moeller will be speaking on xBox and Windows forensics, while a speaker from Purdue will talk about social networking. We’ll have case studies on phone cloning fraud, and a local case centered on threats made to the Vice President.”
Breakout, bring-your-own-laptop sessions will also be included to get hands-on experience with some of the newest digital forensic tools. Vendors like Intella, Red Wolf Systems (makers of Drive Prophet), Guidance, Susteen and Technology Pathways (makers of ProDiscover) will be on site demonstrating hardware and software products. Some vendors will additionally provide classes: AccessData on triage, Guidance on RAM analysis, and others.
Affordability in the spirit of community
Held at the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in Saint Paul, MN, the conference costs $300 for non-members, $260 for members and $100 for students (proof of enrollment required). This inexpensive event is in direct response to the current state of the economy.
“Many departments and corporations, especially in these economic times, frown on expensive training and we have been able to provide an event that is not only affordable, but high quality,” Bergum explains. “Our chapter membership spans 3 states and this conference provides great training that people don’t have to travel long distances to obtain.”
Conference organizers hold costs down by appealing to the sense of community learning on which HTCIA was founded. “We all know we can’t do this work alone,” says Bergum. “We are fortunate to have volunteers who give their time, as well as speakers who contribute their knowledge and experience just because they know it is needed.”
No investigative conference would be complete without the opportunity for investigative professionals to gather together and discuss current trends, the latest tools, and to build camaraderie. Bergum says this is consistently the aspect which participants like best about the conference, as well as quality of speakers.
In addition, a change of venue — from the 90-seat limit at Target Corp. to the 150-seat maximum at BCA — will allow for many more participants to attend and network.
A co-sponsorship with higher education
For the first time in its history, the Minnesota chapter will be co-sponsoring its conference with Century College, an arrangement made possible by the Investigative Sciences and Law Enforcement Technology (ISLET) program.
“The ISLET grant is specifically for forensics training,” says Bergum, adding that he anticipates nearly two dozen students at the conference this year — a significantly greater number than last year. The chapter is working on creating student charters with both Century College and Metro State.
We wanted to know one final thing: how does the chapter attract people to Minnesota at a time of year that isn’t yet as warm as in other areas of the country? Bergum says that’s easy — the state holds many different types of attractions. “The Land of 10,000 Lakes” attracts outdoorsy adventurers, while others come to see (and shop at) the Mall of America.
“Many people are also intrigued by our Skyway system,” says Bergum, “which makes it easy to get around each of the Twin Cities.” Additionally, a train goes directly from the airport into downtown Minneapolis.