Data detectives


by TYLER SIESWERDA / KVUE News and photojournalist DATHAN HULL

Posted on March 5, 2013 at 11:25 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 5 at 11:41 PM

AUSTIN -- Try as you might, destroying information on your computer hard drive isn't as easy as you might think. Whether it's covering up corporate espionage, marital infidelity, or murder, there's always a trail. And in Austin, some of the best are on that trail.

Russell Chozick is the vice president of Flashback Data and he says they find the needle in the haystack.

Flashback Data is one of the 21 most highly accredited forensic data recovery services in the world.  And it's the only such lab that isn't a government facility like the FBI or DPS.

"We take any computer, we can answer any question about that computers use. What's on it. What should be on it that isn't on it now," said Will Ambruzs, managing director of Flashback's Forensic Lab.

Flashback's evidence room is secured with biometric access, a steel cage, and 24-hour surveillance.  Unlike a government lab, Flashback Data gets the work done fast. 

"We can often do most of that within hours or even days. We've even had detectives fly in from out of state on a murder investigation where they need the answer now not six months from now," said Ambruzs.

But data recovery doesn't always have a dark side, sometimes machines fail or we are just klutzy.

"We do data recovery from any kind of computer, cell phone, tablet, flash drive, you know USB flash drives, camera memory cards, iPods," said Chozick.

And now, smart phones are a big part of their business.

"We can actually take the memory chip off of a phone, USB flash drive, read it in, kind of reverse engineer the way the controller sees the data and then reconstruct the data," Chozick said.

Meaning no matter what you do, your information is always coming back to you.