Career Day – A Digital Forensic Discussion with 7 Year Olds

My friend and colleague was speaking on a Data Privacy and Security Panel for about 200 people today. His role was to provide an in-house counsel perspective on how the company prepares for a breach, explain past incidents, and how his organization is responding to the ever-growing crisis that is data security and data breaches. I wished my friend luck on his talk and told him I was speaking today too. I was speaking to 7 year olds on digital forensics for “”Career Day”” at my son’s elementary school. He texted me back saying “”come on?”” I asked him who had it more difficult today me or him??…..he told me, “”you do…….by a mile.”” I tend to agree.

My wife who signed me up to speak to the class has a way cooler job than I do. At least to 7 year olds. She works at the New England Aquirium. You can’t beat that!  Prior to me, speakers for career day in the classroom were a Policeman, Nurse, Teacher, US Coast Guard guy. Seriously, what was I thinking?

Mostly what I talked about was that my company is like computer and cell phone detectives. We find electronic evidence when someone may have taken something from a company computer that wasn’t theirs, or we try to find important information on cell phones. I used examples if someone is being mean to someone else on the internet or sending bullying text messages we can find that information and provide it to a court and a judge. I took apart a computer and a cell phone which most of the students have never seen the insides before and passed that around to their amazement. My National Director of Forensics told me to tell the class that the little hard drive of the cell phone can hold 1 billion times than all the computers on the Apollo 13 space shuttle combined — which I think the teachers found way more interesting than the kids did.

The class was super engaging. They had a lot of questions which thinking about it is really not that surprising since computers, cell phones, ipads are so much a part of their daily lives. (One boy wanted me to delete a user from Mind Craft that keeps deleting his Worlds. I told him that I need to talk to my forensic guys first.)  I finished off the 10 minute discussion with five internet safety rules to live by;

  1. On the computer I will tell my family if anything makes me feel sad, scared, or confused.
  2. Always, talk to my family first before sharing information like my name, address, and phone number.
  3. Do not meet face-to-face with anyone from the internet.
  4. Always use good manners and not be rude or mean online.
  5. Always share your password’s with a family member or trusted adult.

The reaction from the class regarding the last rule kind of blew my mind. It seemed about 25% of the kids have already created passwords on a personal device and their parents do not know their passwords.

Overall it was such a great experience and maybe some day one of those kids will get into the field of digital forensics, data privacy or cyber security which which I think is in dire need of more experts. For more information on that topic check out my blog on skill gap in data security in”