Into the Metaverse: Jerry Bui Discusses Digital Forensics Present and Future
FTI Technology’s Digital Forensics & Investigations practice is expanding significantly in 2022. The team is bringing in new solutions and senior leaders to support a rapidly changing digital landscape and an overall uptick in demand. As part of the practice’s growth, Jerry Bui recently joined the firm as a Managing Director. In this Q&A, he discusses some of the current and upcoming disruptors impacting the field.
Jerry let’s start out with your background. What were some of your previous roles and how do they relate to what you’re doing now at FTI Technology?
One of the things I love about working in the digital forensics field is that I’ve had the opportunity to work with a wide range of clients and firms, collaborate with many of the industry’s brightest talents and live and work all over the U.S. My entire career has been in digital forensics, compliance and e-discovery. This has included senior roles within KPMG, Ernst & Young and PwC, where I served as a qualified expert witness in trade-secret disputes involving computer and cloud forensics, complex investigative matters and regulatory response requiring in-depth digital forensic examinations. Prior to joining FTI Technology, I was Executive Director of Forensics at Lighthouse, where I led the firm’s global digital forensics practice.
What do you plan to focus on in your practice at FTI Technology?
I’ll continue my core work on complex, data-driven cases that require expert witness testimony. In addition to that, I’m working with our practice to enhance our solutions around emerging data sources. This includes providing advisory, forensic collections, analysis and testimony regarding unauthorized access and data exfiltration across current emerging cloud platforms such as Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace. Personally, I’m even more excited about how we’ll expand these capabilities and engage clients in cutting edge work across blockchain, digital assets, web3 ecosystems and the metaverse. I think these areas will be major drivers impacting the future of our industry. Our team includes the world’s top experts in digital forensics and emerging data sources, and I’ll be focusing on collaborating with them to grow our practice into the next era of data risk.
What about FTI Technology appealed to you?
FTI Technology is at the sweet spot when it comes to consulting. At boutique firms, there usually isn’t a large enough pool of internal experts to share ideas with. And at the Big 4, there are numerous factors at play that might limit an expert’s exposure to really interesting cases or a high volume of testifying opportunities. FTI Technology is the best of both worlds, where we have an agile enough team that we can take on really complex and engaging projects, while also having a deep bench of qualified experts who are all here to provide perspective and to support each other. It was important to me to be a part of a team with other legally-qualified expert witnesses whom I can learn from and grow alongside.
What do you see as the biggest or most persistent challenges facing clients now or in the near future?
Technology and innovation are changing so quickly it’s becoming more and more difficult for enterprises to keep up from a legal, compliance and digital risk perspective. This is coming to bear in countless ways, but I can provide a couple specific examples.
One is Shadow IT and the risk it poses to IP and trade secret protection. This isn’t a new concept, but it’s been exacerbated by both the recent shift to remote and hybrid work and the growth of cloud applications. Data is no longer contained within a company’s four walls, which makes it much harder to enforce policies or maintain visibility into the endless locations where employees may store files. For companies that are struggling with the transition to work from home or overlooking important controls, this environment can lead to new and increased exposure to data exfiltration (among other threats).
Another is the increasingly strong link between innovation and national interests in industries such as food and agriculture, energy, financial services and technology. Governments are closely watching trade secret disputes and market competition in these industries because of the sweeping national security interests or economic implications that could result if IP is stolen from a competitive company in another country. For example, the FBI recently took interest in a matter in which an R&D employee at a U.S.-based food lab was suspected of leaving the company and the country in possession of proprietary data containing stolen trade secrets. These issues are likely to spur a number of investigations relating to trade secret disputes as well as government inquiries.
What advice do you have for young professionals just starting out in this industry?
That’s an important topic to discuss because a notable portion of the up-and-coming talent in this field are shifting to careers in cybersecurity or cyber incident response (where there has been a talent shortage for many years). I think the fact that fewer people are pursuing careers in digital forensics underscores the need for better apprenticeship and mentoring programs in this field — especially considering that this type of expertise is in extremely high demand right now and likely will be for many years to come.
With better mentoring programs, I believe new digital forensics professionals will be more likely to become inspired rather than intimidated by the type of work we do. I also think it will help nurture the non-technical skills needed — such as writing, public speaking and distilling technical concepts into layperson’s terms — to be successful as a testifying expert. In short, my advice is to join a team that will support career growth and find a mentor that is genuinely interested in helping foster the next generation of experts.
The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of FTI Consulting, its management, its subsidiaries, its affiliates, or its other professionals.