The world of tech is a forever exciting one, with companies constantly producing inventive and groundbreaking work. As such every company seems to have something that they do better than anyone else – something to brag about. But while most tech companies might brag about being hip, cool and innovative, very few can say that their tech helps to save the world.
When the world’s biggest data leak – the Panama Papers – hit the news, Nuix software was pivotal in uncovering the facts. We caught up with their Chief Engineer David Sitsky to discuss what it’s like to work with technology designed to solve crime in the real world.
Automating Email Forensics
David has been with Nuix from the beginning. Since 2000 they have worked their way through several iterations of R&D with different ideas and products, but from the start their core focus has always been computer forensics at scale.
Working with law enforcement organisations like the ATO, ASIC and Department of Defence, Nuix software has facilitated investigations over massive amounts of email. Their software has been purpose built to automate this sort of process.
David told us that many of their clients “work in air gapped environments, and the data they work on is so sensitive they don’t want it on machines connected to the internet.” Nuix is a product that they can download, install and run on their own machines in an isolated network.
Developers working for a greater purpose
David has a skillset that positions him as a developer in high demand. Developers in his shoes tend to prioritise having a ‘sense of purpose’ when looking at where they want their career to head. On being with Nuix from the start, David says “having a strong empathy with the customer and writing software to help solve their problems was satisfying on many levels.”
Although they can’t publicise some of the cases their software is used for, they do know that the software has been used, in some capacity, to stop terrorist attacks.
“The thing that really motivates developers is knowing that the work that they are doing gets used in the real world to do good stuff,” surmises David.
Consolidating a global workforce
Nuix is global. Their software is translated into 12 different languages. They have a presence in China, Japan, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, the US, the UK and throughout Europe.
Thus their team is scattered across the globe which can make software development challenging. “It’s important to unify the development teams into a single logical unit. This ensures that no team is replicating features that another has already dealt with.”
The customer benefits from this unification by enjoying a more dynamic, proficient and comprehensive product with components which can be turned on and off. From a maintenance and testing point of view it becomes a far better experience for all involved.
“There are additional products that we’re working on”, adds David, “which will allow users to exploit cloud resources for their investigative work as well as more advanced analytics.”
Nuix has recently moved into the cyber security area. In fact they have a team dedicated to creating an endpoint cyber security product, the aim of which is to stop malware and threats getting into a machine. The whole idea of the adaptive security product is to try and stop the “zero-day threats” – malware that may not have ever been seen before, but that can be identified and stopped thanks to a powerful “adaptive” rules engine.
Nuix is all about the data – not only do they forensically investigate historical data, they also harvest data in real time, logging files from across the corporate world which are then placed into one big hopper, allowing for efficient investigation. Nuix then uses Advanced Analytics and Artificial Intelligence to detect anomalies within the mountains of data.
Where are they growing?
The short answer to that question is all across the tech stack. Nuix have projects slated for web-based products (backend and integration), micro services, computer forensics, reverse engineering, graph databases, machine learning and cloud computing.
While many might see hacking as a dirty word, David is forthright about the sort of skillset required to take Nuix forward – “Hackers are the kind of people we need; people who like to open up the bonnet and understand how things actually work under there.”
Not a mobile forensics hacker? No problem. The Nuix dev team are in serious growth mode at all levels. They are on the hunt for low-level developers, front-end engineers and ninja grade testers to expand their offerings.