By Christine Karlson
On July 22, 2016, 50 middle school children aged 10-14 lined up at Dynetics, Huntsville, Ala., for the InfraGard Huntsville Cyber Forensics Camp. As they signed in, the kids were broken down into five teams of 10. Each attendee was conveniently checked by our “security guard” and then escorted to their respective team stations by group: “Itchy Patriot,” “Catch Pole,” “Swift Prodigy,” “Iron Anvil” and “Broken Cipher.”
Once in place, Christine Karlson welcomed the students to Cyber Forensics Camp. Shane Hammond, Dynectics Cybersecurity Chief and facility host, along with Brian O’Clah (Bryon Oakley, FBI Special Agent and our staged security guard) gave a quick safety briefing. FBI Special Agent in Charge Roger Stanton, Birmingham Division, then welcomed the students, explaining the importance of the camp, the cornerstones of the FBI, Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity, and different areas the FBI was looking for. Interrupting him, Supervisory Special Agent Todd Berryman, FBI Cyber Division Huntsville, informed SAC Stanton of a crisis that just occurred and requested his attention to the presentation screen. Melissa Stark, WHNT 19 news anchor reported the breaking news story that an area teen was forcibly removed from her home late the previous evening. SSA Berryman was interviewed on camera, and discussed what the FBI knew about the case and requested any information be reported to 911 and the FBI. The victim’s mother (Julie Pechon, FBI Office Services Technician – Huntsville) was then interviewed and reported that her daughter, Jenna, has been quiet and withdrawn lately, but there were no other signs that she was in trouble. At this point SAC Stanton turned the investigation over to SSA Berryman, who quickly briefed the students. “There has been a change in our plans today and we need your help to solve this crime and bring Jenna home. You’ll work with your team and your FBI Special Agents to gather clues, develop evidence and hopefully we’ll solve the crime, arrest the perpetrator and return Jenna to her family.” At this point the kids’ excitement escalated and Cyber Forensics Camp began.
The camp was divided into five stations: Smartphone forensics, social media investigation, computer forensics, cryptography and steganography, and a physical office search. Each station was manned by FBI Special Agents, and community volunteer subject matter experts explained the tools they use to gather crime scene evidence.
The stage was set for what Paul Daymond, FBI InfraGard Coordinator, referred to as one of the most effective and inventive outreach programs he has ever seen. This first Cyber Forensics Camp met the InfraGard goals to work with the private sector to share information and intelligence, and the FBI goals of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) outreach and early FBI introduction and recruitment. One of the most surprising outcomes was the number of girls in attendance.