Published On: Wed, Mar 4th, 2020

Empowered doesn’t make you an expert

There is no doubt that the internet helped a lot of us feel empowered. You can send emails to the president of a big company complaining about an employee who made you feel like the worst customer in the world. You can send a message to your favorite artist or writer just by connecting with them on social media. You can do a search for what kind of symptoms you are having and maybe find out what is wrong with your body. You can write an article just like this one and publish it out there over the internet.

Now, we all are capable of doing everything, and it’s just because we have access to any information we want. It does not make you special. Everybody most of the time can have access to the same information as you.  We need to understand that all the information in the world doesn’t make you an expert. Information brings you knowledge about a subject, however it never gives you experience with it. You can solve shallow things simply having access to information, but deep problems will definitely need an expert.

In 1993, Anders Ericsson, a Professor at the University of Colorado, wrote a paper called The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance. It is basically the 10,000-hours concept which is: whatever profession you chose, you can become an expert just reaching this magic number of hours studying/practicing.

Another professor, Tim Ferris, doesn’t completely disagree, but said that it depends on the quality of that practice and the number is just an average. You will need many hours to be good at whatever it is.

I often face many people telling me that they are already a cyber investigator because they found the person they were looking for on Facebook. I recently helped a friend of mine who had an incident with his daughter’s phone.

A strange number made a video call to his 10-year-old daughter and she answered it. The guy was naked showing his private parts. When my friend got the phone in his hands the guy saw him and hung up. This friend of mine called me and asked for help. I asked him for the telephone number and in 2 minutes I had 3 possible suspects, so I sent them to him.

My friend wrote me back, called me “the man,” and said he would dig into some investigation. Using the profile, I had sent him, he was able to figure out who the person was, and he decided to report him to the police. Oh, by the way, he is a mechanic engineer.  I gave to him some advices about it.

There are so many things implied in this incident not just technically but also in law terms that I personally do not think it is that simple. Don’t get me wrong. I understand as a good father he is trying his best to give that sick guy what he deserves, but without experience, my friend might end up in a bad situation by accusing an innocent person.

Anyway, this was one of the hundreds of situations I have faced during my 20 years of cyber investigation and, believe me, I still think I have a lot to learn in my field. The bottom line is: take advantage of the information, but trust in an expert for important matters.

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