Student Stories

Brian LattuadaI began my education as an accounting major at the University of Rhode Island in 2013. During the summer semester of my freshman year, I took my first Digital Forensics introduction class which opened a whole new world of interests for me. Before I even completed the course, I knew I wanted to take more Digital Forensics and Cyber Security classes and explore what opportunities they have to offer. After continuing to take additional courses, I realized accounting wasn’t the right path for me and I spoke to the Digital Forensics chairperson about switching my major to computer science and going down a more technology-based career. The department became my new focus in more ways than one.

The next summer I worked in the DFCSC lab researching Windows 10 artifacts and the changes that were coming with this new operating system. This research solidified my decision to pursue Digital Forensics as my career and I knew this is the field I want to be in. That fall, I became a TA for the Digital Forensics department at URI and worked closely with all members of the team. A small interest in Digital Forensics ended up shifting my entire focus and soon after I began an internship at Forensic Risk Alliance (FRA) based out of Providence, Rhode Island. All three of these opportunities derived from the digital forensics department and greatly expanded my knowledge and experience in the field before I even graduated. These set me apart from other graduates with a concentration in digital forensics as I had hands-on research and work experience in the field.

Soon after obtaining my computer science degree with a dual minor in digital forensics and cyber security, I continued at FRA as a full-time Digital Forensics Analyst and still currently work there. During my time at FRA, I’ve performed numerous data collections of servers, user computers and mobile devices. I’ve conducted these all over the world including Sydney, Australia; Vancouver, Canada; Paris, France; London, England and in numerous locations throughout the United States. I’ve also conducted forensic analysis on various data sources including Window machines, email servers, VMware datastores, Skype databases and many others. When performing forensic analysis, I still find myself going through the lecture notes from my digital forensic classes I took at URI and there's not a day that goes by that I regret changing my major and pursuing a career in digital forensics.

Brian Lattuada currently am employed as a Computer Forensics Technologist at Sensei Enterprises, Inc., a computer forensics, Information Technology, and Information Security company in Fairfax, VA. As part of my job here, I have worked on hundreds of forensic cases of all types including: theft of proprietary data, cyber harassment and abuse, discrimination, pornography, fraud, murder, terrorism, spyware, divorce/ adultery, libel and defamation, and criminal defense.

Without the Digital Forensics program at URI, none of this would have been possible. The program gave me a strong background in digital forensics which has allowed me to excel in my career. The knowledge I gained during the program also allowed me to acquire several industry recognized certifications such as the Certified Computer Examiner, AccessData Certified Examiner, and the EnCase Certified Examiner. Not only did the program provided me with knowledge, but it also provided hands on experience collecting, preserving, and searching electronic evidence, which translated into skills required and expected in my current position.

I can honestly say I would not be where I am today without the Digital Forensics program.

Dan Fuller

Katie FelixWhen I enrolled at the University of Rhode Island in 2006 as an entrepreneurial management business student, I wasn't sure what I wanted to pursue as a career. During my sophomore year, a fellow peer introduced me to the URI digital forensics program and I knew I had found my calling.

Over the past few years, the Digital Forensics and Cyber Security Center (DFCSC) has provided me with the necessary skills and opportunities to learn and succeed in this field. The courses here introduced me to all aspects of digital forensics, including the different analysis tools, data carving, memory acquisition, and network forensics. The DFC helped me find job and internship opportunities, too. For two years, I have been a teacher assistant (TA) for an introduction class to digital forensics. During the summer of 2009, I interned with the Cyber Crime Department at the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office, where I got to work closely with forensic examiners and work on live cases. I also participated in the REU internship researching methods to detect human images. My experience with the REU internship taught me about the research process and other skills that will be useful throughout my career. I have also had the chance to intern in the computer investigations and operations department at the Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS). While at NCIS I have had opportunities to analyze computers and other digital media, conduct data recovery, analyze network logs, recover passwords, and engage in other areas of law enforcement units within NCIS. All of these job and internship opportunities allowed me to apply the skills I learned from the program to real life scenarios and helped me discover what type of career paths I hope to pursue in the future.

I cannot overestimate the help, guidance and opportunities the DFC at URI has given me over the past few years. The personal attention, patience and sincere interest in helping me develop a career is something I will always treasure. Any student fortunate enough to be part of this program will leave URI well-prepared to pursue an exciting career in digital forensics. I recently accepted an offer to become part of the DFC staff. I look forward to this, not only for further developing my digital forensic skills, but to hopefully provide future potential students with the support and opportunities I received while going though the program.

Katie Felix

Eric AndersonThrough my education at the University of Rhode Island, especially with respect to the URI Digital Forensics and Cyber Security Center (DFCSC), I was exposed to great academic courses, internship opportunities, and a career path.  My training at the DFC has been a major advantage while pursuing positions related to computer forensics, corporate investigations, and litigation support services.  While training at the DFC, I had the opportunity to work at the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) within their computer investigations and operations unit.  The combination of my academic training at the DFC and the case work I was involved in at NCIS gave me a strong foundation in the field of computer forensics.

I earned my major in accounting with a minor in digital forensics, which gave me the opportunity to pursue a career in fraud investigations and forensic accounting.  While in my junior year at URI, I was accepted into PricewaterhouseCoopers'(PwC) internship program within their forensic services practice.  PwC is one of the world's largest professional services firms, with approximately 160,000 people located across the globe.  Following the internship, I was offered a full-time position as an associate within the forensic services practice.

What exactly is a forensic services consultant?  Our teams respond to a wide range of client needs that involve fraud, mitigating risk, and responding to a crisis situation.  Some examples of our engagements include, dispute analysis of government contracts; investigations related to anti-money laundering, financial statement fraud, or Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA); forensic analysis of insurance claims; corporate intelligence to mitigate risk; and computer evidence examination within forensic technology solutions.  Although these are only a few examples, you can see the breadth of services that the practice offers.

With respect to the DFC, the professors and staff responsible for the academic training are exceptional.  I not only had the opportunity to learn under them, but also work with them in my role as a teaching assistant for many of the courses offered.  As a student within the digital forensic minor, and a member of their staff, I worked with talented colleagues, built great friendships, and found some experienced mentors.  In a competitive job market, making yourself distinct and technically advance is extremely important; and working with this staff and earning your undergraduate and/or graduate education within their program will be a step in that direction.  If you have an interest in computer forensics, and the drive to complete this challenging program, then I urge you to contact the DFC and get more information.  The academic training and internship opportunities I earned are a direct result of this program, and I am very glad I requested more information from them at one point.

Eric Anderson

Paul PerroneAs an experienced technology professional specializing in law enforcement IT, I am acutely aware of the challenges many police departments have when faced with digital evidence. Typically, smaller departments have fewer resources and do not have the in-house expertise to properly process digital evidence, thus having to rely on outside agencies for assistance which can take weeks, if not months. As the department system administrator, I was asked regularly to assist with less serious digital crime investigations but lacked the specialized knowledge and skills necessary to provide consultation in analyzing digital evidence.

It was through my membership with RI Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force that I was introduced to URI’s Digital Forensics program and knew immediately this was something worth pursuing. The graduate program provided me with unique insight into the legal aspects of digital forensics and the importance of maintaining original evidence integrity. Each course was comprehensive and challenging, reinforcing theory with relevant practical assignments. A variety of analysis tools were presented as well as advanced techniques in data carving, volatile memory acquisition and network forensics. Professors and Teaching Assistants kept the class engaged with weekly class discussions and participation in research projects tailored to a student’s interest.

The program allowed me to learn a new skill set well outside those required for system administration. Having completed this program, I am now positioned to provide expert consultation to investigators in handling cyber-crimes and better understand the vital role law enforcement has in bringing criminals to justice with regard to digital crimes. Moreover, none of this would have been possible if it were not for the quality of the curriculum and personal attention received. In closing, I would highly recommend the graduate certificate program for anyone interested in augmenting their existing technology skills.

Paul Perrone

Maureen BoudreauI applied to the URI Digital Forensics program after using the services provided by the Digital Forensics Center in a professional capacity. Although I’ve worked professionally in hardware, software and networking technologies for over 20 years, I was both surprised and intrigued by the depth and volume of information revealed through forensic processes.

The online program format was essential for me, both as a technology professional and a parent of a URI student. I required an educational venue that would allow me the flexibility of a weekly program with specific tasks and objectives.

Each week new lectures, assignments and quizzes were made available to complete at my own pace while I worked full time as Director of Information Systems at Dominion Diagnostics. The discussion groups were an excellent resource throughout the process. The other student’s comments to be both helpful and insightful even as they were posted at 1:00am! The instructors always responded promptly and professionally.

The program content was timely and relevant, and we didn’t have to look far to locate current news items that related directly to our coursework. My favorite exercises involved investigating the artifacts left behind by various web browsers and cell phones.

I believe my digital forensics education, and the certifications I’ve gained throughout the process have been a strong contributor to my professional development and to my current role as CIO at Rebuilders Automotive Supply. I share my enthusiasm by presenting various technology topics at local high schools, colleges and technology organizations to raise awareness and interest in this dynamic field.

Maureen Boudreau

Jay DavidI graduated from the URI Digital Forensics program with a Graduate Certificate in Digital Forensics in 2009. During my tenure as Network Manager for the university I witnessed many types of computer attacks and malicious code including DDOS, computer worms, viruses and hacks.

I became interested in Computer Forensics because I wanted to learn how these programs could be hidden in computer file systems and how they could be eradicated. The program began with a refresher in Computer Hardware and Operating systems followed by a course on Computer Forensics followed by a course on Network Forensics. Even after working in IT for over 15 years I found the classes to be informative and challenging. The instructors did a good job of presenting the material and were always available for questions. The fact that the class is offered online makes it easy to fit into a busy schedule.

I left the university in 2011 to pursue a new opportunity with Dell SecureWorks, a division of Dell that focuses on cyber security audits and incident response. My background in networking and training in Computer Forensics provided me with the experience Dell SecureWorks was looking for. As more and more devices connect to the Internet including smart phones, desktops, laptops and even home appliances, the need for cyber security will grow. Having a background in computer forensics will prepare you for a career in a rapidly growing area of IT.

Jay David