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To Solve Your Problem, Think Like a Hacker

We think of ourselves as hackers at BMNT.  But we don’t break into computers, we break into problems. 


We think of ourselves as hackers at BMNT.  But we don’t break into computers, we break into problems. 

Here’s a case in point:   

A federal government team needed a way to analyze massive quantities of computer forensics data. To do this, they followed this high-level process: 

The team was struggling to solve this problem and had turned to commercially available computer forensics analysis products because no one in industry or law enforcement faces the same legal constraints or volume of data as the federal government does. 

To help, we approached the problem the way a hacker would – by breaking down each step of their process into individual pieces.

When we looked at the individual process steps, we identified two targets most promising for technological modification: metadata extraction and triaging.  

Many technologies are designed for high-speed and accurate metadata extraction, including, it turned out, the one this team was already using. 

So we dove further into data triaging, and learned that analysts needed a way to rapidly decide if a file warrants further analysis based on a standard set of attributes about it. We asked ourselves, “What processes and technologies already exist to make quick decisions with minimal data?” 

The answer is closer (and more oddly appropriate) than you may think. After some orthogonal market research, or as we call it “Beg, Borrow and Steal,” we landed on dating apps, more specifically Tinder, as inspiration for the rapid triage of what is often way too many choices. The typical dating app interface lists a standard set of attributes to produce high-quality decisions – and it’s incredibly fast. 

By borrowing heavily from this use case and applying it to their data forensics problem, our government partner increased their triaging process by 230%, which allowed them to rapidly analyze a backlog of data and ensured they can focus on extracting intelligence from the highest value data.

Summing Up 

Some problems have clear and well-suited solutions – for example, if you need to track customer interactions you get CRM software.  But when you face a niche or complex problem it’s unlikely you will find technology to directly address your needs. But by thinking like a hacker, you improve your chances of solving your problem.

By breaking down a problem into component parts, you can find existing products to address part of a problem or modify a product to solve the problem outright. This allows for novel use cases for common technologies that may appear to have no application at first glance. 

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