In our interview with Felix Lum, Director of Fulcrum Management Asia, he speaks about his business, computer forensics in Singapore and gives some interesting situations from his business life.
Felix Lum is the Director of Fulcrum Management Asia Pte Ltd. Fulcrum Management Asia is a computer forensics solution provider and consultancy firm.
Before embarking to set up his own firm, Felix was the Head of Inland Revenue Authority Forensic Unit. As the Head of the computer forensics team, he was instrumental in the development of IRAS’ capabilities in Computer Forensic. He has also provided expert reports and testimony on computer evidence in court.
Felix has a Master of Business Administration from Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. Felix also holds Bachelor of Business degree from the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore. Felix is an AccessData Certified Examiner, EnCase Certified Examiner, XRY Certified Examiner and Certified PDA Examiner. He also holds professional technical qualification in Comptia A+ and Network+.
Felix has been invited to speak on computer forensics at the Tax Policy Adminstration & Policy Course (2004), Study Group on Asian Tax Administration and Research (SGATAR) 4th Joint Training Programmer and the Singapore Police Force Cyber-Crime Investigation Workshop 2006 & 2008, Singapore Management University and Ngee Ann Polytechnic.
Yuri: Felix, please briefly describe your current occupation.
Felix: I am the Managing Director of Fulcrum Management Asia Pte Ltd. We are a digital forensic consultancy firm that does forensic consultancy and forensic solution implementation for clients.
Since I started to do computer forensics, there is no turning back
Yuri: How did you become involved in computer forensic field?
Felix: This came more than 10 years ago. I was tasked to develop the Singapore tax authority computer investigation capabilities. It was a natural progression for us then since we started with auditing computerized account. Since I started to do computer forensics, there is no turning back. I love being involved in technology because of the relentless pace of technology.
Yuri: Do you have any related education? What field do you have a degree in?
Felix: Over the years, I had attending a wide range of computer forensics related training and achieved several certifications. Prior to setting up the computer forensics capabilities, I had 2 years of auditing experience of businesses.
…works never ends, doesn’t it?
Yuri: Please describe your working day. When you get to, what do you do first? What do you do most of the time?
Felix: In a typical day, work starts the moment you start to read your emails and replying them till the time you ready to get to bed. It is a bad habit you know when you wake up in the morning and start checking your blackberry. I usually aim to get spend some time with my family before heading to bed. As an entrepreneur, works never ends, doesn’t it?. It is all about how we managed our time.
Yuri: What do you like about your job most?
Felix: I love technology and our field requires us to be involved in a wide spectrum of technology. And of course the fact that you know you made a difference to the case.
Yuri: How did you join Fulcrum?
Felix: I was the head of a computer forensics unit of a law enforcement unit prior to setting up Fulcrum. I started the business with my partner. It was very interesting on how we got together. We had a discussion on our views of business and share our values over dinner, we found that we share the same principles and we started our business together.
Yuri: What is special about your current company?
Felix: We seek understanding of our customer needs or rather their pain in their current process or work and we identify the solutions to solve them. For example, forensics investigators are hard pressed for time to review large amount of evidence and we recommend them a solution to make them work more productively like using AccessData Lab.
Yuri: What is the most interesting/unusual project your company ever fulfilled?
Felix: This is an interesting question. We had a customer whom was very insistent on buying some products. We knew that they will never need them or use them. Mind you, those stuff don’t come cheap. They went ahead to purchase it. But I guess the value to have something that they really need it one day means more to them then anything.
We are passionate about forensics.
Yuri: What is special about your company what you are proud of?
Felix: Our customers come first. We actively listen to our customer needs and seek to find a solution to their problem. We work as a partner with them and add value with our experience and knowledge. Plus, we are passionate about forensics.
Yuri: How do you market forensic tools? Is there any difference with other kind of software for organizations?
Felix: Different organizations have different needs in terms of their computer investigation. A lot is about matching the right solution to the right user, that is, adding value to their investigation process. But we need to engage the user management to show them that the forensic tools will address a problem that they have.
Yuri: What are the differences in forensic markets in Asia and other continents/countries?
Felix: Different countries in the region are at a different stage of requirement of digital investigation. Some are at a more mature in technology, some are not.
The gap usually exists at the management level
Yuri: Do you have a feeling that end-users and vendors live in different planets? Are there many misunderstanding between them? Are there many misalignment between what vendors produce and end-users want?
Felix: In Singapore, most of the end-users know each of the solutions we offer, after we do a demonstration of a product to them. The gap usually exists at the management level. They expect very high ROI on investment. This does not apply only to forensic software but to all software that are procured.
Yuri: Do you have any approach to build your computer forensics company, which is specific to this kind of companies and cannot be used for all other kinds of companies?
Felix: Regardless of what business we do, I strongly believe in putting our customer first. With that we build a brand name that is trusted for its integrity, professionalism and showing that we can add a value.
Some software addresses issues that have yet to evolve in our region
Yuri: How do you select software to resell? What are criteria?
Felix: We listen to our customers and seek to find software that helps to solve my client’s problem. Sometimes this is a challenge because some software addresses issues that have yet to evolve in our region.
Yuri: What is your experience working in crisis year? Did forensic sells decrease or is it a kind of software, a government always have money for?
Felix: During the crisis year, non-government clients do cut their expenditure. For government clients, it does not really affect their need to have forensic solutions in place to address specific technology.
Yuri: What are your immediate plans with regards to your company?
Felix: To build and reinforce our brand name.
Computer forensics in Singapore is advanced in the recent years
Yuri: In your opinion, what is the current state of computer forensic science in Singapore and Asia in general? Of legal computer forensic practices there?
Felix: Computer forensics in Singapore is advanced in the recent years. The legal practices here are adopting computer forensics practices very well. The challenge for the legal practitioners is having an affordable and easy-to-use platform for review the mass amount electronic documents.
Yuri: Are there any obstacles to selling forensic software and hardware in Asian market? Other markets you are working with?
Felix: Two main issues we always face: educating and branding.
there is where the fun lies…
Yuri: What do you like most about computer forensics?
Felix: Computer forensics is always playing catch up. So the pace of technology development can be quite relentless. But there is where the fun lies, isn’t it.
Yuri: What forensic resources do you regularly read? What would you recommend to others?
Felix: Yes, I do follow several forensics resources. ForensicFocus and SANS blog are some of them.
Senior executive had very bad foot odor…
Yuri: Can you tell any funny story related to computer forensics?
Felix: There are plenty in fact. There was this particular case where we had to do imaging of several computers. One of them belongs to a senior executive of the company. The desktop was placed on the floor. The pain for my colleague was that the senior executive had very bad foot odor. To compound matters he had left several pairs of shoes next to the desktop. After performing the necessary documentation, my colleague had to take the desktop away for imaging. The senior executive asked, “You can take it?”. My colleague replied very professionally, “It is part of my job.” But once he was out of the room, he told me, he almost threw up when was doing all the photographing etc.
Yuri: Please give some predictions of what may happen in the nearest 5 years with computer forensic market.
Felix: Mobile devices forensics investigation will become common. SSD will be a standard storage in all devices making forensics investigation more challenging.. The challenge will be for forensic examiner to be able to turnaround cases faster given the larger amount of data that they will have to handle. This is not due mainly to increasing storage capacity but increasing awareness of computer evidence. So it will be a challenge to be comprehensive in our analysis.
…I am 21
Yuri: How old are you?
Felix: I like to think I am 21. LoL
Yuri: How many kids do you have?
Felix: One precious…
Yuri: How do you spend your free time?
Felix: I spend time with my family. I hope to spend much more.
Yuri: How many hours of sleep do you usually have?
Felix: It depends. I hope to get a standard 8 hours but sometimes I am awake by 6am.
Yuri: What is your favorite vacation spot? What is the most unusual place you have ever been to?
Felix: I love Japan. It is a lovely country to visit and I do feel bad for them when the tsunami hit them.
I love soccer and just restarted playing golf
Yuri: Do you do any sports? Which one? What is your preference in watching professional sports?
Felix: I love soccer and my favorite team is Liverpool. Sadly the club was badly managed previously. I think they have a lot to catch up. I just restarted playing golf. Golf is a very interesting and challenging game.
Yuri: When did you have your last vacation? A real vacation, without any Internet and calls from your colleagues or customers?
Felix: I did recently had a short holiday to Hong Kong with my family. There was a long weekend back home and I had no interruption from emails and calls. I am looking forward to the next break.
Yuri: What were some of your worst experience with your business so far?
Felix: I had 2 recently. One was the flood in Thailand. The flood caused a shortage of supply of hard disks in the market worldwide. Supply was low and price at least doubled. Worst, we had participated in a government tender to supply. While, margin will be affected, our main concern was the delivery as supply was hard to come by.
The second incident was a very unpleasant one. We had liaised with a supplier of a software in Belgium. They asked for who our end user was which we duly provided. They gave us the quote and a letter to affirm that we are an authorized supplier. With the quote, we submitted and won the tender. When we were about to place the order, the supplier unprofessionally and unethically claimed that they cannot sell to us as there was an exclusive relationship with another reseller for that particular end user. We were dumbfounded, we never expected a supplier to behave like that.
Overall, we are very thankful to all our existing partners. We have a strong relationship with them.
Yuri: Do you have a dream?
Felix: Yes, I do. I am working on a forensics project for over a year. I hope I can get it implemented in 2012.
Yuri: Thank you for the opinion from Singapore!