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Digital forensics firm Data Narro relocated its office from downtown Milwaukee to the Dye House building on East Buffalo Street in the city's Historic Third Ward neighborhood at the start of this month, marking a new phase of growth for the company.
First opened in August 2018, Data Narro provides digital forensics and e-discovery services to businesses, law firms and government agencies throughout the Midwest. The company helps its clients preserve and recover electronically stored information for the purposes of investigation, data analysis and litigation support.
“We kind of view ourselves like digital detectives. We really enjoy doing this work and so I think it comes through in that we’re diligent and that’s going to be kind of the key to our success to grow,” said Kristian Lars Larsen, e-discovery director.
Erik Thompson, director of forensic services at Data Narro, explained that prior to entering the fields of digital forensics and e-discovery, he had been doing some specialized IT work. He started getting some requests from clients to perform examinations on computers for information. This led him to seek additional training in the area of computer forensics. In 2000, Thompson switched career paths to computer forensics full time.
“That space was heavily dominated by law enforcement, so when private sector people like myself would show up to that, they didn’t really like it. They thought that they were giving us the means of creating criminal acts, but now it’s completely flipped. You go into these training courses and it’s predominantly people in the private sector,” Thompson said.
He added that when this industry first came on the scene, it was called computer forensics because all it involved was examining a computer that was not always connected to the internet. Now, the field has been renamed digital forensics because of all the different sources of information it now encompasses, including cloud-based devices, IoT devices and even cars.
When the company first opened in 2018, there were three people on the Data Narro team. Now, there are two additional team members and a possible third in the works.
Data Narro was previously located in the River Bank Plaza at 740 N. Plankinton Ave. in downtown Milwaukee. That building was recently sold and is being converted to loft apartments.
“We’ve always been eyeing up the Third Ward. This has been the area we’ve been wanting to get into,” Thompson said. “One of the things I’ve always been a huge advocate for is being close to a lot of our clients and a lot of our clients are right in this area.”
Their services span several areas of litigation and investigation and are used in both civil and criminal cases. The digital forensics field is constantly evolving in both the types of information available and the kinds of devices being examined.
“There’s this proliferation of different kinds of messaging apps and where people used to communicate unencrypted and leave trails of data, they start to use things like Signal, which encrypts all their messaging. In some ways, people are smarter but in other ways they don’t realize their mobile devices are tracking just about every aspect of their life,” said John Gapinski, president of Data Narro. “In some ways, people have no idea how much information is really out there.”
He said looking to the future, there are some areas that Data Narro can expand on, including incident response for security breaches and analyzing video and audio files.
“I think there are technologies companies can implement who have had issues that require digital forensics help in order to do prevention and make it easier to manage their digital information and prevent theft and other issues that cause them to come to us in the first place,” Gapinski said.