Super Geek: Cyber Skills Gives Cops Grasp of Security

He doesn’t look like other superheroes walking the streets of Tulsa, but Gavin Manes has super powers.
He can see into your past.
Manes is president and director of research for Oklahoma Digital Forensics Professionals, a Tulsa company comprised of self-described “geeks and nerds” who specialize in extracting deleted data from digital devices.
Manes’ digital career began in 1996, as a freshman at University of Tulsa. By his junior year, he was working for TU’s Tulsa Digital Forensics Center, helping the Tulsa Police Department fight cyber crime.
The Tulsa Digital Forensics Center was organized to capitalize on the growth of the digital forensics research already happening on campus.
The university, hoping to grow the venture and profit from the potential research dollars and possible patents, offered to incubate the infant business by offering campus space and access to essentials such as internet access telephones.
It was through Tulsa Digital Forensics that Manes first worked with the Tulsa Police Department. At that time, he said, they needed all the help they could get.
“When we started, Tulsa didn’t have a cyber crimes unit, but there was very little cyber crime,” he said. “The FBI was doing some things, but nothing locally.”
The technology, said Manes, was there, but cities had few qualified police officers to carry out investigations of cyber crimes.
“Most cyber cops have been a beat cop for the past 20 years,” he said.
After perfecting their investigation skills, Manes said, some will go on to become cyber cops, at which point they have to start the learning process anew.
“After becoming a good detective, some people want to go on to become cyber cops, and they are good cops, but their ‘nerdy skills’ are zero. So what we would do was take a cop, with all his investigation skills, and turn them into a ‘geek’. We turned them into a nerdy cop.”
Manes completed his doctorate in computer science at the University of Tulsa in 2004 and formed Oklahoma Digital Forensics the same year.
The company, which primarily works with the legal community, private investigators and large corporations, collects data and produces reports from computers, cell phones and other electronic devices.
It operates along the same lines as the TU-owned Tulsa Digital Forensics, but it’s different from its non-profit cousin in that Oklahoma Digital Forensics was formed to “take what we learned at TU and see if we can make money with it,” Manes said.
Manes said the company, which is located in the Mid-Continent building in downtown Tulsa, places a premium on security. Its location was chosen, in part, for the after-hours security measures that the building offers.
“This office offers the security we need because we keep a lot of evidence in our safe,” he said. “Our elevators are security elevators, as are the stairs, and when you get to our floor, you can’t just get in our lab with a key.”
The view, he said, wasn’t a deterrent in choosing where to land. “We’re geeks and nerds but we do have an appreciation for some things.” ?



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