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Clients Find The IDEAL Way - page 4

It's All In The Name

  • July 8, 2004
  • By Rob Reilly

You would think that IDEAL would worry about competitors on the Microsoft side of the fence, because of the proliferation of that operating system in the business world.

Although they only deploy Linux and Open Source systems, IDEAL staffers grudgingly tweak existing Microsoft systems, when needed, so that those systems will work with a project. Jacobs said that the weak link is always the Microsoft part.

That revelation comes from the tremendous database of lessons learned that IDEAL has built up over the course of all their projects. "We have more experience with Microsoft than most MSCEs," Jacobs commented. Much of that knowledge was gained as a result of solving deficiencies and being able to use Linux tools to examine exactly what was going on in a system or network. Since the company has successfully established itself in the marketplace, IDEAL chooses to serve their customers well, instead of worrying about the competition.

"There's plenty of room in the market," said Jacobs on finding clients for IDEAL's services.

That kind of insight has been another key to their success.

One of the coolest products that IDEAL is currently developing is sponsored by a Department of Defense Small Business Innovation Research (DoD SBIR) contract. The device is called the "Linux-Based Forward Area Portable Forensics System." The machine is a ruggedized portable Linux-based computer system that allows Homeland Security Personnel, forward-deployed conventional military, and Special Ops forces to rapidly extract data and analyze information from captured devices and media.

Jacobs gave an example where soldiers might capture a cave [or building] and find a stash of computer equipment and media. Gaining military advantage demands that the systems and media be analyzed quickly for possible useful information about the enemy. Using a ruggedized device that can "hack" into the data and media has generated tremendous interest in all branches of the military.

Linux is particularly appropriate for this type of device because it has the ability to access all types of media without changing the data on that media. Other operating systems frequently change or update media, without the user even knowing that it has happened. It's critical that data remain unchanged whenever a cyber forensics investigation is being performed. News stories sometimes speak of evidence contamination, when a crime scene is compromised. The same idea applies to cyber-forensics, except that the evidence might be a computer or a hard disk.

The DoD SBIR contract also allows IDEAL to retain intellectual property rights, so they can apply the technology in the civilian and commercial sectors.

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