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Edmonds College offers data recovery for Oso mudslide victims


Steve Hailey and Trey Werner

Edmonds CC Instructor Steve Hailey and Edmonds CC student and HTCIA member Trey Werner disassembling a hard drive.

Edmonds College digital forensics and advanced data recovery students and faculty are volunteering to help recover data for the Oso mudslide victims.

"The students will perform the data recovery in the college's state-of-the-art digital forensics lab and cleanroom," said Steve Hailey, Edmonds CC Information Security and Digital Forensics instructor. "Even if a computer has been submerged in water and mud, we have the equipment and expertise to recover data from it."

As survivors, volunteers, and recovery teams search through the rubble left by the tragedy, they continue to locate and retrieve computers and other electronics. The possibility of recovering digital memories may offer a ray of hope.

"It's devastating enough to lose your home," said Hailey. "Ensuring the mudslide victims can recover their digital memories, irreplaceable family photos, and personal data is critical when so much has been lost. We're going to do everything we can to help."

As part of Edmonds CC's nationally recognized information security and digital forensics program, students learn to recover data from hard drives that have been severely damaged.

According to Hailey, recovering data from damaged hard drives can cost thousands of dollars per drive, depending on the severity of the damage and the methods that need to be used to recover the data.

Edmonds CC students Rob Matthews and Quincy Powell will be the college's liaisons with the Oso mudslide victims, responsible for the intake of the hard drives and overall coordination of the data recovery efforts.

Richard Leickly and David Angell

Edmonds CC Instructors Richard Leickly and David Angell working in the college's cleanroom.

"The digital forensic and data recovery skills we have developed at Edmonds CC are being put to great use," said Matthews. "We feel privileged to be able to restore digital photos, documents, and other data that might otherwise be lost for those affected by the mudslide."

Led by Hailey and instructor Mike Andrew, the hard drives will be triaged by students and members of the High Technology Crime Investigation Association — a non-profit organization devoted to the prevention, investigation, and prosecution of crimes involving advanced technologies — performing the initial diagnostics. The most severe cases will be escalated to the advanced data recovery students, led by instructor Richard Leickly.

About Our Instructors

Hailey and Andrew are internationally recognized subject-matter experts in digital forensics and information security and have taught classes for the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Both have trained Department of Defense personnel tasked with analysis of digital evidence and intelligence in the Middle East. Both are also adjunct instructors for Texas A&M University and serve as officers of the Washington State High Technology Crime Investigation Association.

Leickly, co-owner and founder of the data recovery company Circle Hook, has recovered data for law enforcement agencies as well as the Department of Justice. He developed the curriculum currently being taught at the college for advanced data recovery students and has instructed members of local and federal law enforcement agencies in advanced data recovery techniques.

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