Posted by Bret Peters on July 18, 2022
The Anti-Human Trafficking Intelligence Initiative (ATII) is at the forefront of combating global human trafficking. ATII harnesses the power of corporate social responsibility by working with organizations to raise awareness, build intelligence, and foster technology advancements and strategic data collaboration to help stop human trafficking.
Bret: Hi Larry, it’s always great to catch up with you no matter where in the world you are at the moment. Where are you now?
Larry: I am currently in Nova Scotia, Canada. I was just in Toronto and California and will be heading to Prague (ISS World), Pittsburgh (NCFTA), and Arkansas (NCPTF) for the month of June.
Bret: By my count, you have 48 technical certifications and these include ADF’s Mobile Device Investigator, Digital Evidence Investigator PRO, Triage-Investigator-PRO, and Triage-G2 PRO. What certifications are you currently working on or what’s next to take you over 50?
Larry: Technically I have 61, but some have been superseded, expired or I just deleted them from LinkedIn because it took too long to scroll to my favorite forensics and investigator certifications. I will be working on some more blockchain forensics certifications this year with different vendors. It’s not as high on the priority list as the last few years.
Bret: Besides knowledge and certifications do you collect anything else? I imagine you would constantly be having to move to a bigger house.
Larry: I actually just downsized, sold my house and became a digital nomad of sorts. I’ve been traveling around training law enforcement, assisting with investigations and supporting operations in order to get challenge coins. I think it’s my new calling. I have other collections from Tae Kwon Do medals and hockey cards from the 90’s and lanyards from events from 2000 up until now but they are just in boxes at this point in my life.
Bret: Your college experience at Nova Scotia Community College enabled you to earn some highly technical degrees in Business Information Technology (BIT), Computer Systems Management and Support (CSMS), Internet Systems Management and Support (ISMS), and Systems and Network Management. How did these degrees prepare you for your career?
Larry: I think it would be the broad topics that I studied during that time frame. By the end of it I had great exposure to both desktop and network infrastructure, internetworking, video/sound editing, windows/linux/novell OS’s and had practice with 11 different programming languages. By my third year, I was getting paid engagements for cyber security at other universities, internet service providers and misc ethical hacking gig’s but you won’t see my private stuff on my LinkedIn as it was just a hobby at the time.
Bret: How did your work experiences at MCI/Worldcom, HP, Bank of America, EDS, Blackberry (RIM), 2011 Halifax Canada Games and Quantus Technical Solutions prepare you for the work you do today? Whether that’s technology or dealing with people. I am curious to learn how these experiences helped you over the years.
Larry: Quantus was essentially a bunch of different projects from all over the world – anywhere from mining to large organizations doing security auditing but nothing could have prepared me for this work. Cyber Security was not as important back then as it is today. Now it is essential to have a Cyber Security program implemented in order to keep your network safe.
Bret: Did you make the jump from previous roles to more forensics investigations and incident response at a certain point that you remember?
Larry: While at Quantus, had a report sent to me that there was a boss dealing with child abuse material. They ended up running forensics on him and building the report. He got his door bored in two days later, was arrested, charged, and on the news and the rest was history. It was such an adrenaline rush at the time that I just continued to pursue it. I think it was a calling that I needed to do something more in this world.
Bret: During your career, you’ve seen cryptocurrencies explode. How has this impacted your work and how do you explain the role of cryptocurrency in human trafficking?
Larry: As far as cryptocurrency goes, we use it every day. We trace the funds involved with purchasing child abuse material and discovering KYC or know your customer data. We work with all of the major blockchain forensics companies and some of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world in order to combat CSAM (child sexual abuse material).
Bret: You are well known in the Open Source Intelligence community since you’re highly active in the community and also a regular presenter at OSINT events. What do you like most about the OSINT community?
Larry: OSINT is great. They all share knowledge. They’re all eager to learn and they love capture the flags. We currently hold our own capture the flag which is the Darkwebathon. A lot people gathering internationally to investigate dark web data and look for links to child abuse material.
Bret: ADF and ATII work closely together on the digital forensic side of the work you and your colleagues do at ATII. In addition to this work which empowers forensic examiners and investigators to leverage Dark Web data, you also work closely with financial institutions. Can you talk about ATII’s role in working with corporations and who specifically you tend to work with within companies?
Larry: We tend to work with technical folks so the integrators or data analytics team in order to ingest the data and compare against the other data to find different links involving or hits on ip addresses, email addresses, crypto addresses, phone numbers, etc. We do analytics on that information to look for links on human trafficking and triage those hits to their compliance departments and go over them with a fine tooth comb to see if they can be linked to any particular crime.
Bret: You travel to provide training quite often and I know you train corporations, intelligence agencies, and law enforcement. As someone that is deeply involved in fighting human trafficking and educating about the Dark Web, are there things that these differing organizations can learn from one another?
Larry: Right now there are a lot of training and knowledge gaps. A lot of them are not only between different departments within the same organization but when you’re talking about organization to organization, they tend to have no cryptocurrency or dark web experience. By the time they encounter a case after a year or so, that knowledge has faded. So, continuous training is important and having resources that they can reach out to assist them with the investigation is important as well.
Bret: You spend a vast amount of time helping others learn about human trafficking and injustice. Aside from more certifications, how do you want to improve yourself in the next year?
Larry: I improved myself by learning a lot at the training events and conferences I attend. I learn at the conferences I speak at and from attending other speaker sessions or speaking with partners at events. It’s a constant and evolving learning experience when dealing with child exploitation, labor trafficking, and sex trafficking.
Bret: What is your biggest joy as it relates to your work with ATII and the National Child Protection Task Force?
Larry: There is no better adrenaline rush than when you have a successful operation, catch a predator, find a missing child, hear back from law enforcement on a tip or see a headline in the news that you know you helped out on. This and challenge coins are what keep me going day to day. There is no better joy in helping or knowing that you made a difference.
Bret: Child Exploitation is obviously a huge factor in human trafficking. Is this your primary focus? What is the biggest challenge you think society faces in combating these horrific crimes?
Larry: Child Trafficking and Abuse has always been my primary purpose. Human Trafficking can sometimes be a grey area but no matter what the situation, crimes against children are always wrong and not to mention, they are the most vulnerable. We also get amazing response and cooperation from partners and law enforcement. It makes our jobs that much easier. Some of the biggest issues are end-to-end encryption, corporate negligence, privacy coins and the darkweb is another big one.
Bret: Are there things you wish the general public understood about the Dark Web and child exploitation?
Larry: As for the Dark Web, I’m finding that the majority (at least 30%) is directly related to child exploitation. Out of 200,000 websites we have seen, 40,000 or more have been related to child exploitation. You don’t really see this type of material on different market websites since they are afraid it will make them a target. These dedicated websites are the bulk of the CSAM that we discover on the darkweb.
Bret: I know ATII relies heavily on volunteers. How can individuals get involved with ATII?
Larry: We have names for future volunteers and onboarding but onboarding takes time and we are busy right now. Applications for volunteers and the internship program will open up again in October. They can apply, submit a resume, and sign an NDA.
Bret: Do you have a favorite team that you follow?
Larry: I don’t watch soccer, football, hockey, basketball, etc. I don’t watch any sports except for MMA and UFC.
Bret: What do you like to do for fun? Do you have a favorite Netflix or podcast binge?
Larry: Ozark. I also watch anything related to DC and Marvel.
Bret: What conferences will you be presenting at this coming year?
Larry: Last year, I was able to present at 48 conferences, events, panels, and law enforcement training. I was asked in May to be a trainer at Interpol which was really exciting and I put on my first session this month. Right now, I am in Prague speaking at ISS World. I am then heading to the National Cyber Forensics Training Alliance (NCFTA) Conference in Philadelphia, and then Arkansas for the National Child Protection Task Force (NCPTF) annual conference.
Bret: Larry thanks so much for all your time and everything that you do to #followmoneyfightslavery.
Larry: Thank you Bret and ADF Solutions for being such a wonderful partner and supporting ATII, our events, our task force and internship program. You have definitely made a major impact in over 100’s of our interns in the past two years and allowed them to get their first certification. They are all very appreciative of your contribution to the fight against Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation.