E-Discovery Business Takes New Approach to Collecting and Preparing Digital Evidence to Spur Growth and Expansion
Unique Wire assists service providers, corporations, law firms, and law enforcement agencies with identifying and understanding Digital Intelligence.
Unique Wire, a digital forensics and e-discovery business focused on helping service providers, corporations, law firms, and law enforcement agencies, headquartered in Oregon, spent years battling with solutions that were not compatible with one another. In many instances, their forensics engineering team had to write their own code to solve business and law enforcement challenges. In 2020, they decided to standardize their entire operation using Cellebrite products. Doing so has ensured total compatibility across all solutions and has helped expedite e-discovery for their clients.
Brian Feucht, Managing Partner at Unique Wire, had a very unique beginning with his own lawsuit. Feucht had started a company in Alaska to develop next-generation mobile devices, but a competitor stole much of the business’s intellectual property.
“We won a $53 million verdict, but then a judge said there wasn’t enough available evidence to support the damages, and she reversed the verdict,” Feucht recalls. “That cost me $670,000 in damages. We weren’t able to gather the necessary electronic evidence. I realized that given my knowledge of technology, I could have filled a gap in for electronic discovery. I just did not know what could have been done. Thankfully, at the end of the day, the Alaska Supreme Court reversed the judge’s decision, but damages were reduced to $1. That $1 check hangs on my wall to remind us that we treat every case as if it were our own.”
That realization led to the launch of Unique Wire, a company that provides Digital Intelligence—the data extracted from digital sources and data types—smartphones, computer, and the Cloud—and the processes by which companies access, manage and leverage data to more efficiently run their operations for their clients. Their clientele now includes corporations, law firms, and law enforcement agencies.
Unique Wire’s staff comes from law enforcement and government, bringing extensive resources and knowledge to the task of digital forensics. The company has three divisions, serving civil cases such as corporate IP theft; criminal defense; and law enforcement. Corporate clients tend to be larger, established organizations that are concerned about protecting intellectual property, but Unique Wire has seen a significant influx of smaller clients during the COVID pandemic.
“We see what we’re doing as bringing resources and knowledge to bear that typically weren’t found in the private sector—finding out what happened, why it happened, and providing our clients with insights into that information,” says Feucht.
Corporate investigations typically involve human resources issues or theft of intellectual property. “On the government side, we serve both defense attorneys as well as assisting the law enforcement side whenever they have questions and require some assistance,”
Finding Faster, Better Technology Instead Of Building It In-House
To provide e-discovery services across a multitude of device types and platforms, Unique Wire’s technology experts had to build several dozen applications needed to derive digital evidence from phones, computers, and other devices supplied by clients. The team typically used platform developer tools, such as the Android SDK, to manually parse data.
“We always try to go above and beyond for our clients,” Feucht says. “If they bring us a cell phone and we can’t hear any audio, we have staff that knows how to do audio. If you’re doing one component of getting information, you should be taking it to the next level—like ripping apart the audio and the video to see if it’s being manipulated, or analyze what we can hear in the background. We want to give clients a fundamental understanding of what that data is telling us.”
“We realized right away that Cellebrite would save us hours of work.”
While the homegrown approach worked, allowing Unique Wire to satisfy a growing group of clients, it wasn’t as efficient as it could be. Creating in-house applications was time-consuming and required three full-time engineers to manage. Preparing and presenting evidence for court was also time-consuming; since Unique Wire wasn’t using tools typically found on the market, analysts frequently had to explain to judges and opposing counsel how the homegrown solutions were created.
“Every time you write code, everyone at court questions it,” says Feucht. “Plus, we were tired of building software—we wanted to put that time toward billable hours.”
As Unique Wire planned out its future expansion, the business’s leaders realized that the dozens of homegrown forensics solutions and the corresponding engineering maintenance would slow Unique Wire’s growth. The business hopes to have 25 analysts on staff by 2022, and is building out a 4,700-square-foot new office space that includes a secure 2,000-square-foot data extraction lab, nicknamed “The Cracklab.”
“We looked at who the players were, who was doing stuff in the space,” Feucht says. “We had some contacts in law enforcement on the federal side, and they were like, ‘Hey, you should use this tool.’ We realized right away that Cellebrite would save us hours of work.”
To derive Digital Intelligence for its clients, Unique Wire replaced its homegrown applications with a full suite of digital tools, including several Cellebrite solutions, such as Pathfinder for automatically surfacing digital evidence; UFED for unlocking, extracting, and analyzing data; UFED Cloud for extracting and preserving cloud content such as messaging data; Inspector for analysis of macOS and Windows computer volumes; and Digital Collector for data acquisition from Mac computers. We also use Cellebrite Legalview to transmit data directly into our clients’ case management solution
Ready To Take On More Clients
With Cellebrite solutions, Unique Wire can take on more corporate investigations, and deliver results to clients faster. The Cellebrite solutions will also help Unique Wire achieve its ambitious growth goals, as well as a shift from a business that spent resources developing its own code to one that can rely on best-of-breed Cellebrite solutions.
Unique Wire now gains more time to spend on urgent client work—and to increase the billable hours crucial to business growth. The company was also able to reduce its reliance on engineering and programming assistance, saving $400,000 annually.
“We see what we’re doing as bringing resources and knowledge to bear that typically weren’t found in the public sector—finding out what happened, why it happened, and providing our clients with insights into that information.”
For corporate clients, a key benefit of standardizing on Cellebrite is the ability to prepare evidence for court. Cellebrite’s corporate investigation and eDiscovery solutions, such as Cellebrite Pathfinder, help clients’ legal counsel present evidence that is convincing and understandable to judges and juries.
“By using Cellebrite, our clients get fewer questions in court,” Feucht says. “In the past in many cases, we were using tools that weren’t commonly found in the commercial space, so we’d get a lot of grief from the opposing side about ‘What is this tool? Where did you get it? How does it work?’ By bringing everything under the Cellebrite roof, we don’t have those questions anymore. The brand itself is highly credible, which helps us a lot.”
The compatible Cellebrite solutions also help Unique Wire not simply extract and preserve data but also supply clients with high-level Digital Intelligence that ties together people, discussions, and content to shed light on cases.
“We look at conversations, we look at what people are saying in the public space and in their internal communications,” Feucht says. “It’s the way to provide fundamental understanding of what the data is telling us. We dig into the complexity of the situation, so clients know what’s happening.”
The search becomes even more detailed when Unique Wire analysts work to analyze cloud data, as well as internal documents, such as in cases involving employee terminations.
“Cellebrite has saved us time, it’s recognized as the standard in the industry, and the support has been great. When we have a problem, we can actually pick up the phone and there’s someone to talk to.”
“We might expand the scope to include finding out who someone’s friends are,” Feucht says. “We start looking at the conversations that are happening in the public space. Then we start looking at what’s available on a business network, like internal communications.”
“Cellebrite has saved us time, it’s recognized as the standard in the industry, and the support has been great,” Feucht adds. “When we have a problem, we can actually pick up the phone and there’s someone to talk to. We’ll continue as a Cellebrite shop because it makes good sense for us as a business, and good sense for our clients. They’re now paying for our good work instead of paying us for custom programming.”
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