Our Story

Company History

The BlackBag story begins in 1997, three individuals, one very bright idea and the passion for helping law enforcement and corporations around the world with digital forensics.

Ben Charnota, a Reserve Police Officer for a Northern California Police Department with a full-time job working as a Technical Investigator for Adobe®, attended a High Technology Crime Investigation Association meeting. This is where Ben met Derrick Donnelly. Derrick, a former Federal Law Enforcement Officer from the Competition Bureau, Industry Canada in Ottawa, was working for Apple® at the time as their Head of IT Security Worldwide and was presenting at the meeting. Derrick impressed Ben with his forensic knowledge, technical aptitude and people skills. The two exchanged contact information. The following day Ben received a case involving 22 Macintosh computers. Fortunately, he knew just the person to call and reached out to Derrick for his expertise.  The two spent the weekend on a “BlackBag” job imaging and analyzing these systems while taking occasional cat naps on the conference room floor. They completed their mission.

The two enjoyed working together, and Derrick hired Ben to work for him at Apple® (doubling the team’s size). They worked on internal forensic cases with the software and techniques Derrick had developed in Canada. Both enjoyed supporting Law Enforcement as part of their duties, securing Apple’s® Digital Infrastructure. However, as time went on, they were restricted to the amount of support they could provide outside of Apple®.  This situation was difficult for Ben and Derrick to handle – they felt a personal responsibility to assist Law Enforcement, and the demand for Mac forensics was at its prime.

In the early 2000s, Derrick, Ben, and Paul Jordan, a childhood friend of Ben’s with interest in business went out to Dinner in Menlo Park, California, and unknowingly created the company’s first strategy plan, on a napkin, while mapping out their dinner discussions.  In 2003, Ben and Derrick soon transitioned out of their roles at Apple®, and the team developed their first product: a FireWire Write-Blocking Device ‘FireBox’. The product was manufactured out of Ben’s garage in Cupertino, CA, the location of the first BlackBag office (Ben really misses that commute). Their very first purchase order was from the United States Secret Service.

Paul focused on the business, Ben on the hardware, and Derrick continued developing his suite of Macintosh Digital Forensic Tools – the ‘Macintosh Forensic Suite®. This software eventually evolved into BlackLight and is our most used forensic tool today.

Derrick started writing the Forensic Tools Training Course while he was in Canada, along with developing the first Mac Forensic Course at the Canadian Police College. At this point, he was also teaching several different Federal Law Enforcement agencies in the United States. Derrick updated the training to include the Macintosh Forensic Suite and MacQuisition, another product developed to image Macintosh computers. Since then, the training team continues to develop and delivers expert forensic training and certification programs to over a thousand forensic examiners annually.

Today, with brilliant minds, innovation, and the continued commitment to revealing the truth and making the world a safer place, BlackBag offers a suite of digital forensics software products. We are the leading provider of digital forensic solutions to both the public and private sectors. The company serves a diverse set of clients including Federal, State, and Local law enforcement agencies as well as leading Fortune 500 companies. We are committed to developing innovative solutions for the security community.

What We Do

Reveal the truth in data in order to create a safer world.

Core Values: Veracity | Integrity | Professionalism


We develop innovative forensic acquisition, triage, and analysis software for Windows, Android, iPhone/iPad, and Mac OS X devices. Our software is used by hundreds of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies around the world for criminal investigations, as well as leading corporations and consultants handling HR investigations and eDiscovery matters.


We develop and deliver expert forensic training and certification programs, designed for both novice and experienced forensic professionals. Courses include classroom instruction, demonstration, and practical hands-on experience to accommodate a variety of learning styles and maximize the learning experience.


Our informal motto at BlackBag has always been, “Data doesn’t lie, people do”; however, revealing the truth in data is more challenging than ever before due to advancements in technology. BlackBag exists to find solutions for these challenges, thereby empowering our customers to seek, reveal, and preserve the truth.

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