Carlos Cajigas has his heart fully invested in his work. Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Carlos was inspired to pursue a career in law enforcement in order to combine his passion for computers with his sense of duty to protect victims of cybercrime and make the world a safer place. Today, Carlos has expanded his pursuits to include being an instructor and blogger, enabling him to share his knowledge and experience with others interested in pursuing a career in digital forensics.
A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Carlos began his career with the West Palm Beach Police Department in Florida, first as a police officer and eventually as a digital forensics detective, examiner, and instructor specializing in computer crime investigations. During his law enforcement tenure, Carlos conducted examinations on hundreds of digital devices, from computers and mobile phones to GPS devices, and served as both a fact and expert witness in the State of Florida. In 2013, Carlos taught mobile forensic courses in Latin America for the U.S. State Department's Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program.
Today, Carlos is a senior incident response analyst at IBM, where he is responsible for responding to computer and network security threats for clients located in North and South America. Carlos also teaches FOR408: Windows Forensic Analysis at the SANS Institute, where he brings his experience with law enforcement forensics and enterprise incident response to the classroom.
"My teaching philosophy is simple," Carlos says. "I strive to empower each student by developing their ability to conquer knowledge of a forensic technique, using demonstrations and the sharing of real-life applications and implications as to why a technique is important. I want my students to know which specific artifacts to analyze regardless of the tool chosen for the analysis."
Digital crime has increased dramatically in recent years, and hard drive sizes have expanded exponentially, greatly increasing the amount of cases and devices that need to be analyzed.
"The days of imaging and processing extremely large hard drives for hours before beginning analysis is a thing of the past," says Carlos. "Taking into consideration limited resources and manpower, today's examiners must be as efficient as possible in what we do and how we do it."
To help students overcome these challenges, Carlos shares techniques in his classes on how to directly target specific files and folders that can yield the biggest amount of answers in the least amount of time. "That way you can have answers within minutes rather than within hours," he says.
Carlos has been involved in hundreds of cases and helped obtain numerous convictions using many of the techniques he teaches in class. As an investigator, he gets great satisfaction knowing that he did his part in protecting victims. As a teacher, seeing students grasp his explanation of an artifact can be just as satisfying, knowing that he is preparing them for the challenges of the future.
Carlos holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Palm Beach Atlantic University in Florida, and has completed numerous training courses, including courses offered by Guidance Software (EnCase), National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), Access Data (FTK), United States Secret Service, the International Association of Computer Investigative Specialists (IACIS) ,and SANS.
Carlos also holds numerous certifications in the digital forensics field, including EnCase Certified Examiner (EnCE), Certified Digital Forensic Examiner (CDFE) from Mile2, Access Data Certified Examiner (ACE), Certified Forensic Computer Examiner (CFCE) from IACIS, and the GIAC Certified Forensic Analyst (GCFA) and GIAC Certified Forensic Examiner (GCFE) from SANS. Carlos is a Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) certified instructor with experience teaching digital forensic classes. He is an active member of both the International Association of Computer Investigative Specialists (IACIS) and Miami Electronic Crimes Task Force (MECTF).
Carlos also maintains a computer forensics blog aimed at helping other digital forensic examiners use free open-source Linux-based tools to do their jobs. He hopes to develop and increase awareness in this area and believes that open-source tools can provide examiners with alternatives and/or supplement commercial software.
During his free time, Carlos throws his passion into his pursuit of designing and baking the best homemade pizza.
- More than 12 years of experience in digital forensics, both as a law enforcement officer and as an incident responder for IBM.
- Instructor for FOR408: Windows Forensic Analysis at the SANS Institute
Get to Know Carlos Cajigas
Here is what students are saying about SANS Instructor Carlos Cajigas:
- "The instructor has a great teaching style. He is able to balance course content with personal experience in an efficient manner (to not waste time in class). He explains complex concepts very well." - Luis Martinez, Westchester District Attorney's Office
- "One of the best instructors I have had." - Patrick O'Leary, NCDOC
- "Carlos is a great instructor with a lot of energy to drive the point home." - Jason Hultman, Diplomat Pharmacy
- "Great instructor, very experienced in teaching a wide audience." - Brian Plummer, CACI