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Cyber Security & Computer Forensics with Business BSc(Hons): Placement case study

Lillith Vanian-George, intern analyst at Ernst & Young

    Lillith Vanian-George
  • Name: Lillith Vanian-George
  • Course: Cyber Security & Computer Forensics with Business BSc(Hons)
  • Placement role: Analyst in Forensic Technology & Discovery Services
  • Placement company: Ernst & Young
  • Year: 2014/15

A day in the life of Forensic Technology & Discovery Services

What is the average day in FTDS? Well the truth is there are no average days, every day there is always something new to learn and a new problem to solve.

My name is Lillith and I am doing a placement year at EY in their Forensic Technology & Discovery Services department, based in London. I am a student at Kingston University, having completed one year of Computer Science before switching to Cyber Security and Computer Forensics in my second year.

Your first question is probably, "What is FTDS?"

Forensic Technology is a type of digital forensic science which relates to legal evidence found in computers and digital storage media (ex, USB sticks, CDs, DVDs). What we do is examine digital media in a forensically sound manner with the aim of identifying, preserving, recovering, analysing and presenting the data. This sounds like quite a mouthful, so let me get a bit more specific!

Which department do you work in?

I work within eDiscovery (electronic discovery) which, in simple terms, means we assist our clients manage litigation or government investigations which deal with the exchange of information in electronic/digital format. My department provides a number of digital forensic solutions to solve problems like civil litigation investigations, criminal investigations, and internal investigations.

For me, this means every day I am dealing with lots of confidential client data. Emails, PowerPoints, word documents, PDFs, you name it. During my time at EY I have been exposed to many elements of eDiscovery, so day to day has varied a great deal.

What have you achieved on your placement?

I've done a lot since I have been here, to give you an idea...I have created my own SQL scripts, I have interacted with clients (in person, by email and over the telephone), I have collected hard drives from clients then preserved the data, processed the data, then produced that data and gave it back to the client, I have organised fundraisers at EY, participated in organising an event for 300 people, attended & organised recruitment events...the list goes on! As you can see, my year has been quite busy!

Of all the things I have done this year, I think I am most proud of the fact that I was able to write my own SQL query, and implement it into a client facing platform. For those of you who are good at coding, this might not seem like much but I generally consider myself not able to code if my life depended on it (how I hate you Java and your evil semicolons)!

I started working on a new project in December, which is heavily bespoke due to the client's needs. It was often that the client asked for a unique function we had to manually code ourselves. My colleague (aware of my aversion to coding, I claim I was under duress!) asked me to create a simple SQL script to return some data into a spreadsheet. After giving me some guiding tips, I was left alone in the wild to create the script from scratch. After much head scratching and many inner joins later, I finally finished it. I was so proud when my colleague looked over the script and gave me the proverbial pat on the back. It feels so good knowing that someone *I* did is being used by a high power client to pull a report every month.

What's next?

I've still got a few months left but I have loved my placement year so far and don't want it to end. Don't get me wrong, you do have to work hard!...but I have learned so much since I started and met some fantastic people here at EY who even from day one treated me like a friend, not just a colleague (or worse, an intern). I can't wait for tomorrow, and what new things await me!

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