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This interview was originally published on Droit Inc. (in French) and has been reproduced with permission.
Muthuselvi Subramanian is a Forensics Technology and IT Security specialist with MNP’s Investigative and Forensic Accounting and Litigation Support Departments. Muthuselvi Subramanian is a bit like the heroine in Kathy Reichs novels, and the television show Bones, Temperance Brennan. But instead of making bones talk in a forensic medical lab, she extracts the secrets buried in the depths of computers, or the Cloud, in her secure lab
located in MNP’s Montreal offices.
In April, the young 28-year-old woman joined the forensic technology and computer security team within
MNP’s Investigative and Forensic Accounting Department. “I am passionate about both technology and problem solving. The more complex, the better!”
Born in Chennai, a city located on the shore of India’s Bay of Bengal, Muthuselvi Subramanian arrived in Montreal eight years ago. She had just completed a Bachelor’s in Engineering, Electronics and Telecommunications in the Tamil capital, and was registered at Concordia University to do a Master’s in Engineering and Information Systems Security. “I was an adventurer. I didn’t know anyone here. And I didn’t speak French. When I heard people speaking the language, I thought to myself: Oh! I’ll have to learn it!”
This wasn’t the first obstacle that this young woman had to overcome. Passionate about electronics and robotics from an early age, she was on a path that few women follow. “My dad was asked by others: Why send a girl to an engineering school?”.
When she thought about specializing, Muthuselvi was thinking about the many computer system vulnerabilities that cyber criminals easily breach to commit their crimes. “I thought to myself: okay, I need to learn how to protect data and systems. Computers are used improperly by dishonest people. And it became a passion.”
To complete her training, the young woman took the Introduction to Inquiry and Investigation Techniques course, at Cégep de Saint-Hyacinthe. As a result, she obtained a private security license, vital for her practice.
Muthuselvi’s work with
MNP is twofold: she helps to both secure clients’ information systems and to recover from disruptions caused by fraud as well as unlocks others in order to prove a wrongdoing. “My first task is to understand what has happened, and to explain it to the client. Then, I suggest solutions in order to secure the system and prevent more fraud from occurring.”
Most of her projects come from law firms. When there is suspected fraud or wrongdoing, the modus operandi is often the same: she receives a call from the law firm to go that same day to a company, after office hours, to seize one or more computers. “When I get there, everybody is in a panic! They have just realized that there is a serious problem.”
She knows she doesn’t have the stereotypical geeky look that we see in the movies. “Yes, it surprises people. But I’m an expert, I do my job, I always remain focused and, most importantly, I never panic. People say to me: Wow! You’re so calm!”
She brings her acquired “treasures” back to her highly secured lab, where the analysis of what will be electronic evidence can begin. “First, I protect and copy the data. Then I look for the evidence, analyze it, and create an investigative and forensic accounting report.” The opposing party’s lawyers must provide the computer password, which is used to browse through the data. “It’s a legal obligation, but sometimes, the lawyer won’t give me the password, for various reasons. So, then I have to figure it out.”
In that case, she has to use “brute-force” to crack the system. Then it is just a matter of time before she finds it. “Most people use very simple passwords. But some can take weeks to figure out.”
Once in Ali Baba’s cave, it’s a matter of finding data that is sometimes destroyed or stored on a remote cloud. There are always tracks left, and it’s Muthuselvi’s job to find the hidden evidence. “Each case is different, and the more challenging, the more I enjoy it! It’s a crime and I need to think like a criminal: how did they do it?”
The young woman also conducts Anton Piller orders: the purpose of this kind of order is to prevent a defendant from removing or destroying evidence that must be protected for litigation. For this, the defendant does not need to be aware that a search will take place. “This gives us the right to seize the evidence without advance notice. Teams are dispatched to the company or companies, simultaneously, to seize the hardware.”
Muthuselvi Subramanian’s client-base is growing into a variety of sectors, including telecommunications, IT, software, transportation, construction, farming, mines, education, health care and medicine. “Each sector has its own challenges, but at the end of the day, my goal is the same: to protect information,” she says.
Muthuselvi Subramanian is a Forensic Technology and IT Security specialist with MNP’s Valuation, Forensics and Litigation Support group. Based in the Montréal office, she helps organizations of all sizes recover from disruptions caused by fraud, and establishes policies to protect clients’ systems and information in the future.
Categories:Valuation, Forensics and Litigation Support
Related Topics:Valuations; Litigation Support; Forensics; Lawyers
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