A small diversion...
I figured I should start by addressing something that Harlan pointed out in this continuing recent twitter discussion regarding “contributing to the community” (stemming from the two posts I mentioned in my last post, along with this new one). He hit the nail on the head with the characterization of the attitude that some of us have towards contributing (namely, being afraid to speak up), describing it as, “paralysis.”
However painful to admit, I have a problem with paralysis, beyond just the fear of looking stupid on the internet before the whole world. I realized that it is something I fight every day in everything I do, whether it is learning something new, meeting new people, snowboarding on a new scary run, or trying out a new recipe when I'm cooking for others. It may be paralyzing fear at first, but it is fighting and overcoming that fear that has brought me satisfying growth in both career and personal endeavors. Like my friend told me (jokingly) when I first started snowboarding - “If you never fall, you're not pushing yourself hard enough.” But I think there's some truth to that - if you are constantly afraid of failing, you're probably not pushing your limits and learning (which reminds me of this recent article).
Part of being able to conquer this fear is having confidence – and the rewarding successes we enjoy after having defeated one of these little obstacles helps to build that confidence. I have been slowly gaining confidence in my own abilities and overcoming the fear of speaking up...I still have a long way to go, but I certainly would never have made it this far this quickly if it weren't for the continuing support and encouragement (however blunt sometimes ;) ) of the active members of the DFIR community.
When I first learned to snowboard, all my friends were already expert skiers and snowboarders. They goaded me into joining them in the back bowls and expert runs, even though I couldn't keep up with them and was scared to death most of the time. But having a constant push of someone more experienced than you can be a great motivation, especially when they can help you learn from your mistakes. That is why I am thankful that we have so many intelligent, caring individuals in this community, who are truly dedicated to growing the field. Thanks guys, for all your help and support.
Well, one quick opening paragraph turned into a post of its own...I think I'll save my technical content for a separate post (hopefully tomorrow if I don't finish tonight). I have a brief overview of a few network forensics analysis tools (NFAT) that I recently evaluated that I wanted to share.