Around this time in 2014, I was driving on my 80-mile commute to my law enforcement job as a supervisor at a college police department in Hampton, VA when I suddenly realized how much I missed forensics and investigation. The college PD didn’t have much use for the technical skills that I previously poured a lot of time and energy into cultivating and these skills, which hadn’t been used much in about the past year, were getting rusty. It just so happened that about a year prior, I registered this “thing” called Professional Digital Forensic Consulting, LLC through the Virginia State Corporation Commission. It was just sitting there, not really doing much, but calling me to it. So I talked over the financial and practical implications with my VERY supportive wife and we decided to make it work. Pro Digital was born.
From June 1, 2014 onward, I’ve been working on cultivating Pro Digital into a viable business and a valuable service for litigators, private & corporate investigators and partners in the private and governmental sectors. If you read this blog regularly, you already know how we value adherence to the forensic methodology, finding & reporting the facts, staying abreast of changes in the industry and offering training where feasible to help foster the growth of digital forensics. In a nutshell, this is our mission statement at Pro Digital and it hasn’t changed since inception.
I’ve learned a lot over the past year and invested a lot of time in online marketing strategies, training, networking, and of course, state-of-the-art digital forensic tools. Some of our strategies have worked phenomenally and some have not, but that’s what learning is all about. Go with what works and ditch what doesn’t. Even our logo has changed somewhat, evolving from “PD Forensics” to “Pro Digital”, all in the hopes of creating a brand that will stand the tests of time.
What hasn’t changed is our commitment to providing superior service to our clients. Everyone should have access to affordable expert services, especially when their livelihood, freedom or reputation is on the line and we strive to offer that by keeping overhead low and maintaining regular communication with attorneys and clients. We’ve adjusted and refined our rates based upon the market conditions to a point where we feel that we can offer a reasonable estimate of how much your case will cost after an initial consultation. Most of our business has come from the forensic data extraction & reporting of mobile devices and, as such, we now offer a flat-rate for these services on mobile devices. It just makes everything simpler for everyone.
From June through December, 2014, we worked 11 cases and provided 1 training course. From January through May, 2015, we’ve already logged 16 cases and delivered 3 training courses. We’ve also obtained Expert Witness designation in an additional circuit court in Virginia and have at least three more training courses scheduled through the end of the year. Some of these cases have come from interesting sources, such as concerned & frustrated parents of children whom they suspect are involved in inappropriate activity online. This type of work is something we’ve dedicated resources to and, as a parent, I’m honored that other parents feel they can trust Pro Digital with sensitive cases like these.
All of this growth is due in great part to existing client referrals and cultivation of positive relationships with the digital forensic and law enforcement training communities. As my brother, a life-long entrepreneur says, a referral is the highest compliment that you can pay us, and we are honored to be referred repeatedly by attorneys at law firms of all sizes and areas of practice as well as contacts in private investigations and law enforcement.
As 2015 progresses, I look forward to continued case work and advancing areas of knowledge by attending the High Tech Crime Investigator’s (HTCIA) Conferencein Orlando, FL, on whose committee I’ve been volunteering for the past several months. The conference schedule is full of great mobile and computer forensic offerings (among other areas) at which I’ll be front-and-center. Keeping in line with the “Technical to Tactical” training areas that Pro Digital offers, I also hope to attend the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Conference in San Marcos, Texas in November. I thoroughly enjoy working with the ALERRT group and rolling out their high-level training to law enforcement all over the region. Other 2015 highlights may include additional mobile forensic training in tools such as Cellebrite and JTAG techniques, as time and resources allow.
I’d like to personally thank all of our existing clients who have taken the time to educate themselves about what makes a quality digital forensic service and choosing Pro Digital. Without you, we wouldn’t be here and this endeavor would be much more frustrating. I’d also like to thank all of our new connections in the world of digital forensics, including readers of this blog. This online arena has seen some great interest in the past year, and especially since January, 2015. At times, it’s garnered a little bit of controversy (I don’t think Mark Cuban is a fan), but that’s fine too, as long as it’s respectful and factual. As 2015 moves along, we’ll continue to grow this online community and urge all of you to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and check out the Forensicator Podcast (available on iTunes and Sound Cloud). I truly enjoy the online marketing aspect of this business and look forward to expanding interest in Pro Digital as we grow.
On a more personal note, I’d also like to thank my very supportive and loving wife. She has allowed me to pursue this venture and agreed to be the primary bread-winner (and bill-payer) while we grow Pro Digital. Without her support, I wouldn’t be able to do this.
Looking forward to a great second year!
Patrick J. Siewert, SCERS, BCERT, LCE
Professional Digital Forensic Consulting, LLC
Based in Richmond, Virginia
About the Author:
Patrick Siewert is the Principal Consultant of Pro Digital Forensic Consulting, based in Richmond, Virginia. In 15 years of law enforcement, he investigated hundreds of high-tech crimes, incorporating digital forensics into the investigations, and was responsible for investigating some of the highest jury and plea bargain child exploitation cases in Virginia court history. A graduate of both SCERS and BCERT (among others), Siewert continues to hone his digital forensic expertise in the private sector while growing his consulting business marketed toward litigators, professional investigators and corporations.