With an exciting detective career that diverged toward Digital Forensics and Cyber Security, Dr. James Kent made it big with a continuous learning curve in his service.
When an opportunity struck to give back to the Investigation and Security community, James Kent jumped on it and co-founded Black Rainbow. With software that simplifies complex investigations and drives efficiency at the forefront, Black Rainbow was formed in 2017 with the sole strategic intent of providing a modern and innovative solution for organizations within proactive and reactive investigations and operations.
We caught up with James and discussed his exciting career and how his role as the CEO of Black Rainbow tackles several challenges that have changed over time and how the future of digital security looks.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
James, please brief our audience about your journey as a business leader until your current position at Black Rainbow. What challenges have you had to overcome to reach where you are today?
My journey has been an interesting and varied one. Starting life as an engineer, then followed my true vocation and served as a detective in the police service. A pivotal point in my life was in 1999 when the police decided each force area should have a high-tech crime unit dealing with the new field of digital forensics and Cyber security. At the time, this was quite a step change from murders, burglaries, and rapists and, of course, an incredibly steep learning curve; however, it turned out to be the best thing I had ever done.
The learning and years spent applying investigation skills with the added edge of technical understanding paved the way for my next journey. I decided to leave the police force and start a consulting and training company in the field of Digital Forensics, Incident Response, and Cyber security serving all law enforcement and government agencies. We quickly became advisors to government and national agencies around Hacking, Security, and Incident Response. This was relatively short-lived as a global consulting firm purchased the business. I then joined a Security and Investigation Software company as the CEO of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa based in London.
The business grew exceptionally well, and after a few years, I moved out to Virginia as the CEO of North America to build out the American market. Once again continually having to adapt and learn new challenges, new technologies, and new customers whilst juggling the scale and geography of the North American market for Investigations, Digital Forensics, and Security.
Some years later, after establishing the European and North American businesses, I found myself returning to London as a global Investigations and Security advocate traveling the globe, visiting customers, and following the speaking circuit until finally deciding to take a back seat and retire gracefully and concentrate on my other passion of classic car restoration and family. The business ended up floating on the stock exchange a few years later with a more than $1bn valuation.
My retirement plans were short-lived as I received a call from my friend asking what you are up to. Do you fancy starting something new? Black Rainbow was born. The purpose was to give something back to the Investigation and Security community and build software to simplify complex investigations and drive efficiency.
Tell us something more about your company and its mission and vision.
Our mission is to reduce the investigation lifecycle through intelligence, efficiency, and integrity. We have and are transforming the way intelligence, investigations, and evidence is managed, solving inefficiencies and managing risks faced by Law Enforcement, Government, and Intelligence sectors with our NIMBUS solution.
Our NIMBUS solution is the first integrated investigation case and quality management system available to the investigation and intelligence market. Our customers say NIMBUS is transformative.
Our heritage comes from Law Enforcement and Government agencies; however, we have seamlessly transitioned NIMBUS into the corporate and financial sector simply because the system is architected to render the market segment irrelevant as the problem is similar across markets, geographies and customers.
Enlighten us on how you have impacted the computer security niche through your expertise in the market.
We are streamlining how investigations have previously been managed by providing a configurable and agile solution to evolve and adapt to emerging challenges. Organizations no longer depend on spreadsheets, unsupported open source, or siloed systems for their investigation management requirements. The NIMBUS suite provides complete control and visibility of the investigation lifecycle, supported by defensible evidence tracking, task management, and reporting, all underpinned by compliance with the latest quality standards and procedures.
NIMBUS suite provides a centralized platform for all stakeholders to work in, helping investigation teams to deliver efficiencies when creating and managing all types of investigations within the organisation.
NIMBUS now becomes the digital room assistant empowering Investigators to accelerate investigations by combining the four vital principal phases of any investigation:
Collection: Multi-source human and digital information, data, and evidence can be collected remotely via mobile devices and sent via a portal to the core application. Controlled exhibit handling and chain of custody for continuity driving efficiency and integrity from the outset.
PRODUCTIVITY: Being able to work with the data to produce actionable information. Digitise decision logs and represent them in dashboards reflecting the decisions made. Activities are visualized live as they are taking place and updated with action trees to show the quickest route between essential events, providing a complete audit history of what took place, when and by whom.
ANALYTICS: Visualize the case to reveal hidden connections and sequential events in timeline views along with building your canvas graphs, allowing you to tell the story visually.
REPORTING: Minimizes the burden of reporting and disclosure management from the initial data entry, saving time—auto-populate case information into statements and reports without the need to double key, avoiding errors. Send and view an electronic case file on mobile devices driving paperless investigations, court reports, and feedback.
NIMBUS has numerous capabilities, and every bit of information is recorded in a coordinated way enabling investigators to see the bigger picture and optimize decision-making with a practical and defensible audit trail. It is The Investigation Platform.
Describe in detail the values and the work culture that drives your organization.
The company culture is driven by four key areas, Respect, Innovation, Transparency and Continuous Improvement:
- Respect for our colleagues, suppliers, customers, other stakeholders, and yourself.
- Create, share and drive Innovation throughout Black Rainbow, working towards being efficient, more effective, and maintaining competitive advantage.
- Transparency in being honest in areas of communication with colleagues and customers to build trust and build the growth of a successful business.
- Continuous Improvement with our software product, the delivery of it, and our business processes as we evolve to the needs of our growing business.
For all the Black Rainbow staff, the ability to be a part of a mission and a team that has something to achieve drives our motivation.
Undeniably, technology is playing a significant role in almost every sector. How are you leveraging technological advancements to make your solutions resourceful?
As investigations become, more complex and time-sensitive, physical and digital information needs to efficiently make its way into the central source of the investigation/operations command. NIMBUS absorbs this information rapidly to understand and build a visual sequence of events. Historically, gathering and converting this data into relevant, usable information for presentation as potential evidence has been complex. NIMBUS is designed to streamline this process, reduce data duplication and optimize decision-making while maintaining investigation integrity and disclosure rules.
Our NIMBUS solution is what makes our business and ensuring that it remains robust in the evolution of technology and the digital challenges we face. The days when hosting software on-premise are slowly disappearing, and Cloud is being utilized along with AI technology. When designing the architecture that NIMBUS is built on, we were mindful and forward-thinking of this change. This puts us ahead of the game with many other competitors in the market.
We have also built flexible software. Once deployed, our customers can manage the user interface with configurable changes to allow them to adapt to how they work now and in the future. This brings enormous advantages to our end users as they do not have to wait or incur additional costs, another differentiating factor from other software in the market.
What, according to you, could be the next significant change in the computer security sector? How is your company preparing to be a part of that change?
Quality Management of data gathered within investigations or intelligence sector. Ultimately this comes down to – what processes are carried out and whether they are in line with legislation and regulations. Who conducts the activities, and are they competent and trained to do this? What equipment is used, is it validated and tested? Not all countries are subject to the same regulations/legislation. However, should any case go into the justice system, the evidence can be scrutinized, which comes down to quality.
We have already invested in quality management by integrating this into our solution and systematically reducing the administrative burden, ensuring evidenced conformity to quality and operational requirements. Along with our NIMBUS’ flexible workflow engine, processes and procedures can be digitized, enabling NIMBUS to always be current, relevant, and a primary driver of risk management and productivity improvements throughout the organisation.
For some time, the disciplines around intelligence and investigations have been separated. Dealing with siloed data naturally incurs time penalties in time-sensitive situations, and this has come through legacy working practice lacking technology. Today, the technology exists from the inception of any intelligence through to the conclusion of the case to be in one secure, permissioned environment. This allows reporting, sanitization, dissemination, and analytical work to benefit any permissioned user utilising the technology via watchlist, notifications, and alerting. Once again, driving efficiency to provide the correct information to the right person at the right time.
NIMBUS has a further integral capability specifically for intelligence generation, management, analysis, and reporting. These are partly accelerated by the Elastic Search platform and therefore are scalable to the petabyte level. Building on the primary case or incident data available within Operational Analytics, and depending on the use case (Policing, Counter Terrorism, Cyber, National Intel, etc.), all or a filtered subset (People, Objects, Locations, Events, for example), can be automatically targeted and added to the engine, giving real-time access to potentially invaluable information. Utilizing the Orchestration module, this can be automated in the background depending on the risk profile of the case. This rich source of pertinent data can enable important pattern matching across cases where no apparent links were previously known.
The NIMBUS intelligence module can also search third-party databases on an aggregation model or, in the case of legacy databases, extract all the data within a DB and store it locally. Access to additional databases such as number plate and driver’s license data, passport and border control, international watch lists, corporate ownership and director listings, etc., when linked with the Investigation Toolkit within NIMBUS, can significantly assist in accelerating the investigation.
Where do you envision yourself in the long run, and what are your future goals for BlackRainbow?
To complement our current Americas customers, the next phase for Black Rainbow is further growth and resilience to meet the market evolution; our offices have just opened in Reston, VA. Our mantra has always been about providing usable technology to the industry we have all worked and served for many years. As a team, Black Rainbow genuinely wants to help and make a difference in how we all go about our daily work and continue to engage with our customers and focus groups on enhancing NIMBUS at every step.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the computer security sector?
Many organizations are delivering the same thing, some better than others. You do not need to reinvent the wheel if it is not broken; however, understanding where gaps or significant improvements are required can be gold dust. Listen to what the market, industry, and laws are saying, and most of all, be passionate and driven, find the niche, and own it.