Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Follow Up for Can I find the Words in the Lines I am Burning? (Images Included)

Bruce Elliot Mills III

I wanted to offer you some additional information about the post from last Wednesday. This is the picture I was given to work from. It was, as photos go not the best to use, however, it was his mother's favorite. Mine is not to question just do what I do. It turned out to be a fitting image to memorialize Bruce III for all of time.

As I mentioned last week I do pick up vibes from a subject I am working on. In this case, this beautiful 10 month old baby boy was not sick at the time of his passing. He was spending the night at his Grandmother's home as his parents were out celebrating their ten year anniversary. As I heard it she checked on him in the middle of the night and covered him up with a blanket. When she awoke the next morning she found his lifeless little body there, just as she had left him. He was already gone.

The friend who asked me to make this told me this was the hardest funeral she had ever attended. I believe it. You had to be left with more questions than answers. The why's and what-if's can eat you alive in a case like this. Since I asked not be made aware of the details until I finished this piece I had a completely different take on this tragic event.

I only had one image, a single image to draw all of my inspiration from. An image that spoke to me on a couple of levels. On the one hand, he was at the park with his Mom enjoying a sunny day relaxing on a bench. You can see her reflection, in his eyes, while that single moment in time had much less significance. It was just one of many digital images taken over his short 10 month life. He was smiling and had a slightly mischievous look on his face. He was obviously loved very much.

On the other hand, I noticed the wood on the bench had been slightly vandalized by someone who felt they needed to carve on the wood. These marks, to me, served as a reminder that the world he was born into was not perfect. He was vulnerable to some of life greatest dangers no matter how much he was loved and protected. SIDS I am assuming is what took his young life. I do not know for sure and may never know. Sometimes things just happen to spite our very best efforts to protect our children.

While there are no words I can put together to take away his family's pain I can offer prayers and a compassionate heart. I hope that time will help to soften the burning anguish in their hearts. To my little friend, who I got to know every slight detail of your face, from that moment in time, I wish you love and peace. I have done my best to honor you and your memory. May God bless you.

Please follow me on Twitter @RichardLPryorJr http://twitter.com/#!/RichardLPryorJr Please visit http://pyropooch.com/ My new Custom Pet Portrait wood burning venture.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Fog that cloaks the economy will lift, Just take your foot off the Brakes

Imagine if you will a dark moonless night out on a lonely stretch of highway. To further deprive your senses, there is a thick heavy fog that only allows you the briefest glimpse of the road to come. The fear is not the known factors, like your headlights, the road-marking's, the eye strain, or even curves in the road. The fear comes from the unexpected. What if I suddenly come across a slow moving car or a deer darting out in front of my car? Fog brings on one constant thought; when will this lift?

People in general are not that complicated to understand. They want vision. Vision of their surroundings, vision of where they have been and mostly vision of where they are headed. To deprive a person of their vision as we have all heard heightens the other senses. It's almost like we are so afraid to move forward for fear of the unknown, that we are just stuck. We are hunkered down smelling, touching, tasting, and feeling around. The ironic part of all this fog is that we now have more means of communication than ever before.  However, this just overwhelms our other senses and causes further slowing of progress.

As I sat there this morning with my TV tuned to various news and financial channels, it occurred to me That I was peering out through a fog of my own making. I had an acute case of what-if-itus. Was I so worried about what might come to pass that I missed what did come to pass? In our heightened state of awareness we have lost our sense of risk taking. To hedge your position entirely will leave no room for upside. You saw a peek of this as gold prices fell the other day. Let me out sell sell sell. Relax people you need to remember what the economy is.

The economy, which seems to have grown into the 800-pound elephant we all talk about everyday and might not even realize, is not our enemy it is the sum total of money making activity. The economy has taken on the ability to meet our needs as an excuse, whipping boy, tool to inflict harm against opposing political parties, and general bad boy we all love to hate. While I do agree there are certain factors that affect the overall state of the rules we all play by the economy is not a singular item. I argue the economy is made up of billions of small processes. A person takes a some raw material(s) and with effort and knowledge creates something worth more than the raw material(s). The key is having others to buy your products. There is no law against trying something new. As I wrote some time ago we all have talents in reserve, just waiting to be tapped.

This, in my view, is how the economy works. When people stop seeing the fog they are able to find their own material(s) to sell or trade for others. While this might seem simplistic stop to realize how this might be applied to the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker. You can see farmers, wheat processors, bee hive workers, wick makers ect.

To sit in fear and blame either the President, congress or the economy, just takes time from baking your cake. There are no magic infrastructure projects or tax cutting schemes that will overcome this basic truth. If nobody is willing to look through the fog and buy a load of grain you don't need the new road or bridge after all. No economic activity means nothing to tax less either.

While it may feel good to attack left or right it feels better to make something have more value than its parts along with your labor. I am not an economist just a guy who believes that people when given the chance will do the right things. Now you just have to believe in yourself and enjoy finding you new talents. Mine is wood burning pet portraits. See you on the other side of the fog.  

Please follow me on Twitter @RichardLPryorJr http://twitter.com/#!/RichardLPryorJr Please visit http://pyropooch.com/ My new Custom Pet Portrait wood burning venture.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Can I find the words in the lines I am burning??

Over the past few days I, have been given the greatest honor, of my new wood burning career so far. As many of you know I started a web site called Pyropooch.com. The aim of the site is to make realistic wood burned images of pets. It has been a success and I am learning more with each piece.

I apologize up front that I am unable to offer specific details at this point. However, I am sure my meaning will easily be understood. A friend who I have known for a couple of years, has hired me to wood burn an image of a baby boy sitting on a park bench. In speaking with my friend I learned that the baby had recently passed away.

I stopped my friend there and said that I did not want any other information about the circumstances that led to his tragic demise. I did not want my impression of the child to be clouded by extra information. I also let them know that when I am working on a picture I can pick up vibes from the subject. I know this sounds silly, but it's true.

As I sat there with the wood in my hands and ever-present clipboard holding the picture, I began to think about possible words I might want to burn into the back for all time. This led me to wonder if there were any possible combination of letters I could write that would help this baby's family come to terms with the recent loss. To quote Winnie the Pooh "I sat there and thought in the most thoughtful way, I knew how."

My conclusion was fairly simple. I believe that words have a life-cycle just like everything else in our lives. They have the highest impact the first time and then gradually lose their meaning until the fade back into a bowl of alphabet soup like state in our minds. As a writer I found this hard to swallow. It then occurred to me that the intense pain being felt now by the family would never disappear completely, it too would fade over time.

Sometimes, in those rare instances some words can survive throughout the ages. "I have a dream" comes to mind with the opening of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. museum this week in Washington D.C. Other's might be FDR's radio address post December 7, 1941 "This will be a day that lives in infamy," after the attack in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, which marked our official entrance into World War II. President Reagan's call to "Tear down this wall" is another such example.

My hope is to offer an image for this family, that speaks the language I am hearing (joy, smiles, sunshine, fresh air, enjoyment with family) while burning this into the wood. And will allow them to hold him close to their hearts for a lifetime. To do this work is not without personal toll, given the knowledge of the death of this child. It is an honor to be called upon to try to provide some level of comfort, however, long or short it might last. In closing, knowing that words do expire most of the time, remember to tell your spouse, family, and even friends that you love them often. A kind word no matter how short lived will be kept alive in the memory of the person who receives it.    

Please follow me on Twitter @RichardLPryorJr http://twitter.com/#!/RichardLPryorJr Please visit http://pyropooch.com/ My new Custom Pet Portrait wood burning venture.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Patience is a virtue, take your time and give yourself credit.

This light represents 9 hours of patients
I do not have a lot of time to today since I am in the process of studying for the CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) exam. This is a long tough networking test covering Cisco equipment and networking devices and how the all work together.

If you look at the photo above you see a light. That light was not there, working,  yesterday before 10:00 PM. We had a light that worked just fine until April, when an outlet in the kitchen malfunctioned. After the repair of that outlet was complete the side door light and other outlet in the kitchen stopped working. We were told that it would cost $2000 to repair them. This left our side door area dark and my wife feeling uneasy.

I am not an electrician, but I can read and my friend Paul is very knowledgeable. Thankfully, he was willing to slog through the last six hours with me. After tapping into a good power supply I ran a new wire under the dishwasher and out into the closet. I was just going to run this to the new light fixture but then I had one of my grand plans. Oh boy, my wife said. What if I back track this new power supply to the outlet and switch, which are not working. What could be simpler? Well, in theory it was simple, however, when you carry out the grand plan things never go as you envision them.

Long story short, when I made the initial connection under the sink the and put that junction box back together one of the ground wires slipped out of the friction locks. This only gave us half power. It lit the tester but not the light. The fact that there were torrential downpours throughout the day made it all the more challenging. Once we figured out that issue there were others but we did not give up. That is my point.

We tested and retried until we got it right. The total cost was $21.00, since I had a piece of wire left over from a previous adventure. The light you see should serve as a reminder that if we work together and just have some belief in ourselves, we can accomplish much more than previously thought. Ask for help when you need it and offer help when you can. Have a great week and I will keep you posted on the CCNA progress.  

Please follow me on Twitter @RichardLPryorJr http://twitter.com/#!/RichardLPryorJr Please visit http://pyropooch.com/ My new Custom Pet Portrait wood burning venture.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Who Knew Preschool Taught Macroeconomics Sharing Might be the Answer

Well, to all of my readers, I have missed writing here in the last week. I just completed my finals, for the final time at Bryant & Stratton. I have achieved my goal and graduated with an Associates of Applied Science in Security Technology. I must say it has been a long road and I am glad to be here. However, I find the here I arrived in different every morning it seems.

This might sound crazy, but I miss school. I was a big fish in a small pond. Now I have been plucked from my comfort zone and placed into the ocean. The prospects are not as rich as I would like but I will survive. Like many of you out there the economic situation we all face, as a nation, will leave us less willing or able to whip out our wallets in a carefree manner.

I do not seek to make a political appeal in this forum. I could, but I seek to think through the underlying issues and try to write about how the macroeconomic climate has found its way into our daily mindset. It is as though the common greeting to a stranger is less about the weather and more about the state of the economy. Fiscal troubles at home are no longer secrets kept solely around the kitchen table. They are spoken of, with people in all walks of life. If there is a silver lining to the times we find ourselves in, it's the willingness to offer aid to friends, family, and even complete strangers.

My refuge in these trying times is to take time from my day, to simply help someone. I get the most relief by, offering to do something of value for someone else. Have friends over for dinner who might not be having the best luck now. Or, offering to help fix something if you have the know how. Calling someone who is not expecting your call just to say "I have been thinking about you and hope you are well." If you get caught up in the daily media machine to the exclusion of everything else, you might miss the kindness revolution sweeping America.

The way I see it, if you can save your friends and family money they might have more to spend. As they spend more and help others they too will have more to spend. To think back to that shampoo commercial in the 80's "I told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on, and so on." To give of ones self with no expectation of reward is the silver lining. This might not solve our troubles but it will make us all feel better, to be sure. People have written since the earliest days about the human condition. I too have that passion, and hope you take from this a belief that yes that makes sense.

Once our nation is finished shedding our excesses we will all feel normal once again. Contractions in child birth and economics are painful but the results will be worth the pain. In the meantime, help who you can where you can and we will lift ourselves up and out of the funk we are in.


Please follow me on Twitter @RichardLPryorJr http://twitter.com/#!/RichardLPryorJr Please visit http://pyropooch.com/ My new Custom Pet Portrait wood burning venture.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My Security Forensics Final Paper The Forensic Tightrope of Justice

The Forensic Tightrope of Justice
SECR: 250
Bryant & Stratton College
Richard L. Pryor, Jr.

Forensics, as defined as a noun, is the art or study of argumentation and formal debate. This is not what I was expecting to find. I figured there would be something more relevant to the course we are finishing up. The fact is, public policy and the law will always play a role in any forensic investigation. When a person's freedom is in jeopardy debate is what sets American justice apart. According to (Etzioni, 2004 pg. 44) "reasonable search meant the search had to serve a compelling public interest, especially public safety or public health." What this means in a practical sense today is that there are specific rules that need to be followed for a successful prosecution or in corporate or criminal cases. This paper will seek to anecdotally define Fourth and Fifth Amendments, further define U.S. Federal rules of evidence, site some recent cases involving digital evidence, and cover a case study involving guidelines for planning an investigation of an employee suspected of illegal activity, that will stand up to the scope of current laws.
The Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the Bill of Rights have been parsed and examined since they were written. In attempting to keep with the spirit of this assignment, it would be impossible to discuss every occasion where a higher court had to review an argument made by a prosecutor. The overall theme shall therefore be structured in a way that captures the definition of forensics, the art or study of formal debate. Just as a child might built what they consider is the perfect sand castle far enough from the water to be knocked down, defense attorneys are always seeking to harness creative ways to argue the innocents of their clients or use the wind to breach the castle wall. This cat and mouse dynamic is the very essence of why forensic investigators need to collect, process, validate, and be able to reproduce their results in near perfect fashion. They are the prosecutor's primary weapon in the arena of cyber crimes.
An example of the Fourth Amendment being reviewed by the Supreme Court was Smith vs. Maryland in 1979. The defendant argued his rights were violated since a search warrant was not obtained to set up a pen register to record numbers dialed from his home phone. He argued the evidence gained from this alleged illegal search was fruit from a poisonous tree. The Supreme Court disagreed stating that since he dialed numbers that used a telephone company's internal facilities then he should have no expectation of privacy. His conviction for the robbery was upheld. (findlaw.com) The case could have been decided in his favor and they might have agreed with his attorneys. If they would have, future investigators would have the onerous task of obtaining a warrant for every pen trap. Obviously, the framers of the Bill of Rights could have never envisioned a phone company or wire taps. What they did see was a need for the third branch of government the Judicial Branch. This branch is able to conform to the times we live in and use current circumstances to form precedence or former cases, which serve as guiding examples of how legal processes should be carried out.
In order to offer some additional information about pen register as a process (law.cornell.edu) outlined 18 USC Part II Chapter 206 § 3122. A pen register can be obtained by an attorney for the government or officer of law in some states. They need swear to the court that the pen register is needed for their investigation and that the information gained will "likely be related to their ongoing investigation." Interestingly (Etzioni pg. 159) quoted Peter Swire saying, "The term pen register comes from the old style for tracking all the calls from a single telephone" and "At one point the technology for wiretapped phones was based on the fact that rotary clicks would trigger movements of a pen on a piece of paper."
The Fifth Amendment, which protects a suspect from being compelled to testify against themselves, has been adapted to suit the computer age. Upon reading a case found on (caselaw.findlaw.com, 2006) the United States Versus O'Keefe, which was reviewed by the 11th circuit court of appeals, the issue of Fifth Amendment violation was raised. It was brought up that the defendant failed to alert agents of Homeland Security that he was acting as a self-appointed vigilante trying to stamp out child pornography, at the time his home PC's were seized. The defense claimed that under Fifth Amendment protection he was not obligated to make any statement at that time. The court sited Doyle vs. Ohio. They were making the case that a defendant's silence should not be considered an admission of guilt. That would violate their due process of law under the Fourteenth Amendment. However, O'Keefe was not arrested at that time and was not given Miranda warnings. Doyle violations can only occur if a suspect has received a Miranda warning. Since the warnings were not given Doyle did not apply in this case. Secondly, the mere mention of his omission by prosecutors was not a Fifth Amendment violation, since the judge gave instructions to the jury to only evaluate sworn testimony and evidence. His conviction was upheld.
Moving into the third area of law, U.S. Federal rules of evidence, chapter five of the (cybercrime.gov) site was clear on the rules. Hearsay, which is in section B stated that information that is the result of computer data processing could not be hearsay. The computer cannot say anything has been the consistent finding of courts who have reviewed these rules. Hearsay is divided into three distinct classifications: hearsay, non-hearsay, and mixed. The key difference is the human input element. The items a bookkeeper enters into a spreadsheet might be hearsay. Authentication has generally been given a low threshold of admissibility. The judge in the case can determine the weight of the evidence rather than the fact that it could have been tampered with. They do note a chain of custody record is important in showing the stops the evidence made on its way to court. Obviously, the defense attorneys mentioned earlier have tried many different ways to get evidence excluded. The best evidence rule stated that you should have either the data or a printout of the data to represent the one's and zero's that compose it. You cannot simply rely on a verbal description of what was witnessed on a screen at a given time.(cybercrime.gov)
In a blog post by Stephen Wu a subject which involves ESI was included in his post. This is a snippet of the post: "Here are some things to think about when doing eDiscovery work at your company: 
Preservation:  Ask whether your litigation hold policy covers cloud services, syncing, and automatic backup.  If not, change the policy to accommodate them now.  Make sure your policy actually works by testing it.
 Searching:  When a discovery request comes in, ask whether the search for potentially responsive ESI includes cloud services.  If not, make sure they are added to the list.  Probe your co-workers to make sure they have thought of all available sources of ESI."(Wu) ESI- electronic stored information.
If your strategy does not take into account cloud storage, you will run the risk of not finding all the evidence available or not be granted access to this data due to a poorly worded company policy or search warrant. In my opinion cloud, storage solutions are here to stay.
In a blog post by Sharon Nelson, Esq., noted that Federal Judges have issued at least two dozen warrants for Facebook users. The piece includes two terms Ms. Nelson refers to this way "What interested me most is that these warrants demands a user's "Neoprint" and Photoprint" - terms I had never heard before which apparently appear in law enforcement manuals and refer to a Facebook compilation of data that the users themselves do not have access to."(Nelson) These are terms, which I take to mean a metadata set of items the users posted on their account. I would guess that there was a process, which isolated potential criminal activity. This is worth more investigation in another forum. A common knowledge Google search also pointed out this might include government officials accessing your data and setting up false friend profiles to attempt to extract information from a Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter user.
The case study is a helpful tool to focus all resources on a small area, I believe. If I were hired by a law firm to perform a digital investigation, I would start out as Mr. Wu stated in his piece sited earlier. I would review the current policies to see what was on the books and what might need to be added to be able to do a complete search. If cloud parameters were not there, I would surely add them. I would also be sure that the target of the investigation had signed all of the pre-employment acknowledgements, verifying he/she was made aware of the policies in question.
As for the plan of action, I will refer to the (U.S. DoJ) listing. This guideline is composed of several chapters and I will hit the highlights:
·         Chapter one is a breakdown of what a computer is. It also includes various storage devices, peripheral devices, memory cards, external hard drives, thumb drives (interestingly there are photos showing a watch, pocket knife, and pen which are hiding their storage capacity as USB drives.) Also tape drives, thumb print readers, video game consoles, DVR devices, and MP3 players along with their respective manuals.
·         Chapter two covers tools an investigator might need like gloves, cameras, cardboard boxes, note pads, evidence inventory logs, tape, bags, anti static bags, crime scene tape, antistatic tools, evidence stickers, and permanent markers .
·         Chapter three speaks of the scene itself. Mentions securing all electronic devices, no unauthorized access to these devices, refuse offers of help from unauthorized persons, remove unauthorized persons from the scene, ensure the condition of the electronic devices is not altered. If PC is powered off leave it off, if it not clear if the device is off look for fans running, drives spinning, or LED's blinking. There is long list of preliminary interviewing of people present upon arrival. They should be asked for names, passwords, any automated applications in use, security provisions in use, any offsite storage, all login user names and accounts.
·         Chapter four documenting the scene includes the following among others. Creating a record of the investigation, move if needed devices to learn their serial numbers, detailed recording of scene using photos, videos, notes sketches, note type, location, and position of computers and components within the crime scene space. Note any networking wiring and switches/ hub or other infrastructure. Some components will need to remain online to prevent a service interruption for the business.
·         Chapter five evidence collection protocols including document current state of device upon arrival, if monitor is on and displaying activity photograph the screen as found. Move mouse to see if screen saver is in use without pushing any buttons on the mouse and see what is on the screen. ALYAWS document every step of the process as you proceed. If monitor is off, turn it on and note the results after complete. Label all power and other cords while still attached to their respective component. Take photos of the cords. Disconnect all cords and devices and secure them. Place tape over the drive input slots and check for media in the drives upon arrival. Record make and model of units at  the scene. For laptops photo, sketch, noted devices attached ( follow desk top protocols if applicable) Note any active chat or other applications in use upon arrival. If mainframe or server is involved in a networked environment seek out the network admin to assist in recovering any volatile data before proceeding. Loss of power could mean loss of evidence. Other devices to consider for having valuable data are: audio recorders, gps devices, answering machines, pagers, cordless telephones, copy machines, cell phones, hard drive duplicators, fax machines, printers, WAP's, Laptop power supplies, smart cards, scanners, caller ID units, ect..
·         Chapters six and seven speak about packaging and storage which is more pertinent to law enforcement.
These are steps worth considering when planning for the investigation. If the person has signed off on receiving a copy of the company policy there will be nothing to challenge from a legal rights suit. When an employee uses a company provided PC they should have no expectation of privacy as was stated in the Smith vs. Maryland case sited earlier.
            Being a corporate investigation all of the previous steps might not all be necessary. It is worth mentioning some undercover actions would also be useful. Video and audio recordings of the target should be considered. A remote acquisition of the target's drive would also be a good idea, as not to tip them off to the investigation. Cooperation from the network admin to access emails would be a must along with any internet logs they had about this particular PC. I guess allowing the target an opportunity to get caught would be the surest way of avoiding any future challenge to the findings. An audio recording of them selling company data or uploading spreadsheets to a non-network approved storage area would be the best way to make the case bulletproof.
            The investigation would have been legal since the target would have been aware of the company policies in place. The post Patriot Act world, we live in these days seems to have swung the momentum to those who are seeking justice through investigation. The law as sited earlier has a lower standard for allowing evidence into a proceeding. There seems to be a clear understanding that juries are able to parse through highly technical information and arrive at the best decision.
            The process of writing my final paper for Bryant and Stratton College has been one of intrigue and enlightenment. The laws in our nation are based on offering anyone who might be accused every opportunity to prove their innocents. I am grateful to live here where justice is possible while keeping a level playing field for both sides of a case. If I should need to call upon this information in the future, I will be glad to have taken this course.  

Data set (1979). U.S. Supreme Court Volume 442 735 Retrieved 8/02/2011from: http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=442&invol=735
Data set (2006) U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Retrieved 8/4/2011 from: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-11th-circuit/1404148.html
Etzioni, A. (2004). How Patriotic is the Patriot Act? Freedom Versus Security in The Age of Terrorism. New York: Routledge.
Na listed, (4/01/2008).U.S Department of Justice:  Electronic Crime Scene Investigation: A Guide for First Responders, Second Edition. Retrieved 8/5/2011 from: http://nij.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/pub_search_results.aspx
Nelson, S. (7/21/2011). Ride the Lightning Blog: How Much Data is Facebook Giving Law Enforcement Under Secret Warrants?
Retrieved 8/5/2011 from: http://ridethelightning.senseient.com/2011/07/how-much-data-is-facebook-giving-law-enforcement-under-secret-warrants.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sensei+%28Ride+The+Lightning%29
Retrieved 8/4/2011 from: http://www.cybercrime.gov/ssmanual/05ssma.html
Retrieved 8/2/2011 from: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/usc_sec_18_00003122----000-.html
Wu, S. (7/4/2011). eDiscovery, Digital Evidence and Cybersecurity Law
 Blog: Apple's iCloud Will Change how we do eDiscoveryRetrieved from: https://365.rsaconference.com/blogs/ediscovery

Please follow me on Twitter @RichardLPryorJr http://twitter.com/#!/RichardLPryorJr Please visit http://pyropooch.com/ My new Custom Pet Portrait wood burning venture.