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Interview Discussing Digital Forensics Tools Used by Federal Agencies and Bounty Fishing

He’s the world’s foremost digital forensics specialist, working occasionally with the FBI on everything from fraud to child pornography. We asked Hany Farid, the mind behind the top digital forensic software also used on this site, a few questions about his life and work in this new and important field. Read his take on digital forgeries and some of the challenges he has faced throughout his unique and fascinating career.

Digital Fish

BF (Bounty Fishing): How did you first get involved with digital forensics?

HF (Hany Farid): I stumbled upon a clause in the Federal Rules of Evidence that stated that traditional 35mm film and digital images were, in the eyes of the law, equivalent when it comes to the introduction of photographic evidence in a court of law. This was ten years ago, and even then I thought “this is crazy”, and “this is going to be a problem pretty soon”. I spent about three years thinking about how to approach the problem of authenticating digital media. And about seven years ago, I had my first insight. Ever since, I have been developing mathematical and computational tools to detect tampering in digital audio, image, and video.

BF: Are there some forgeries that you can’t catch?

HF: Yes. In fact, I can create forgeries that our software can’t detect. But, it is difficult and time-consuming. And, as we develop more tools to detect different forms of tampering, it will becoming increasingly more difficult and time-consuming to create a convincing fake.

BF: Where do you see this all going? Are you getting better at catching forgers, or are they getting better at getting away with it?

HF: Both. The forger/forensics game is similar to the spam/anti-spam and virus/anti-virus. Both sides get smarter and more sophisticated. In the end, the forensics side has the harder job – it is always easier to create a fake than it is to detect it.

BF: Are forgers only using Photoshop? Or does specific forgery software exist?

HF: Adobe Photoshop is by far the most common photo-editing software used to manipulate photos. Because of this, Adobe is concerned about the impact of their software – they in fact fund some of the digital forensics research in my lab.

BF: What is the difference between your software and that used by federal agencies?

HF: Our software is the software used by some federal agencies. In fact, I just returned from the FBI forensics in Quantico, VA, where I was demonstrating the latest version of our forensic software.

BF: What it was like working on the child pornography case you mentioned in the New York Times article?

HF: Incredibly disturbing and incredibly important. The issue here is that the United States Supreme Court held that virtual or computer-generated child porn images are protected under the first amendment. As a result, a defendant can claim that the images that he/she possesses are virtual and hence protected. Then, prosecution has to prove that they are real. I have worked on several cases where the Court has asked for my opinion as to whether images are real or computer-generated. I don’t like looking at these images (they give me nightmares), but I think it is important for the Courts to hear a sound technical opinion in order to arrive at a reasonable legal conclusion.

BF: At the end of the day, a digital image is just 1s and 0s, right? How much are you looking for visual clues, and how much is an analysis of the file’s source data?

HF: We have many different forensic tools. Some looking for lighting or shadow inconsistencies, while others directly analyze the underlying pixel values. There are many ways to tamper with an image, so we need lots of different ways of analyzing images. Each case that I work on is different, and in each case I need to draw on a different approach, and sometimes create entirely new tools.

BF: Do you hire or work with successful forgers?

HF: I am a successful forger.

BF: Your services have been called upon for a wide range of situations. What was it that made Bounty Fishing a particularly good project?

HF: In some ways Bounty Fishing epitomizes the future. Here is a business model that critically depends on the ability to authenticate digital images. As we become a more digital and wired world, I am sure that we will see an increase in the number of businesses that are going to need to authenticate digital media. So, I was excited to see our forensic software be employed by Bounty Fishing.

BF: What’s the strangest case you have ever dealt with?

HF: I can’t say, but it was very strange.

BF: Are low quality photos easier to forge?

HF: Generally yes because reducing the size of an image and adding noise obscures traces of tampering – this is almost certainly why virtually all of the UFO/ghost/Loch Ness monster images are small, grainy and out of focus.

BF: Is this picture real?

Warped Face

HF: I sure hope not.

From Reel to Reel – Funny Fishing Movie Posters

Thank you all fishermen and non-fishermen for your great comments on our movie poster fishy parodies. You asked for more – here we go!

1. Charlie’s Anglers (from Charlie’s Angels)

Charlie's Anglers

2. The Da Vinci Cod (from The Da Vinci Code)

The Da Vinci Cod

3. American Pike (from American Pie)

American Pike

4. F.T. The Fishing-Tournament (from E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial)


5. Catfishwoman (from Catwoman)


6. Anglin’ Power (from Austin Powers)

Anglin’ Power

7. The Silence of the Carps (from The Silence of the Lambs)

The Silence of the Carps

Have we missed one? What’s your favorite fishable film? We’re always fishing for fresh ideas…

Our last post on Amazing Fish changed the Reddit Logo

Wow, big thanks to Reddit for that sharp update! After our last post on “27 Aquatic lifeforms you never caught while fishing” and another one that followed on Reddit, which was “This Fish Looks Like the Reddit Logo“, Reddit has decided to change their logo for a while!

old logoreddit old logo new logo reddit new logo

Here’s the original picture that created the change (or is it a coincidence?):


Good to know that the folks at Reddit appreciate crazy fish!

27 Aquatic lifeforms you never caught while fishing

Robot Fish

Robot Fish

This one is a robo-carp you can observe at the London Aquarium. It’s a self-guided robot-fish who use artificial intelligence and sensors to avoid obstacles . It’s a 50cm long common carp, swimming with their living counterparts.

Deep-sea glass squid

A martian? No, it’s the glass squid. This odd looking creature is located in the southern hemisphere and is the prey of many deep sea fish (ex: goblin sharks), whales and oceanic seabirds.


Science experiment gone wrong? Sadly this is not the case. The Snaggletooth or Astronesthes slightly resembles the South American Payara without the charcoal finish and lack of scales. The Snaggletooth is a powerful predatory fish who resides in the deep waters between Australia and New Zealand. Sorry, the snaggletooth isn’t part of our fishing tournament ;)



You can learn more on this amphibian called axolotl on . This one is in the same family than the tiger salamander. The only place on earth you can find those one are at Lake Xochimilco in Mexico.


The mudskipper are special kind of fish that live most of their life on land beside than into the water. They are located in the Indo-Pacific as well than in the Atlantic coast of Africa. Mudskippers are quite active when out of water.

Slander Lanternfish

Slander Lanternfish
The slender lanternfish are so abondant in the ocean that some people pretend they are the most common fish in the sea. Lanternfishes are recognised by their small light organs dotted along the undersides of their bodies.

Deep-sea stargazer

Deep-sea stargazer
Stargazers are a family of muscular bulldog-like fishes that typically bury in the seafloor and ambush passing prey. Stargazers are the ultimate ambush predator, with the eye sets on top of the head allowing it to be almost completely hidden. This is combined with an electrical capability which can be used to stun its prey.

Giant Hatchetfish

Giant Hatchetfish
The giant hatchetfish is found in deep tropical and subtropical waters of all oceans, except the north Pacific. Its length is between 8 and 12 cm. The giant hatchetfish is a deep-bodied species with large eyes that are directed upwards, enabling prey to be silhouetted against the faint light coming from the surface, and a large mouth also directed upwards.

Dumbo Octopus

Dumbo Octopus
The deep-sea “Dumbo” octopus got its nickname from the ear-like fins protruding from the top of their “heads” (actually bodies), resembling the ears of Walt Disney ‘s flying elephant . They are benthic creatures, living at extreme depths, and are some of the rarest of the Octopoda species.


The eelpouts are a family of perciform ray-finned fish They are found in Arctic and Antarctic.

Black-lip Rattail

Black-lip Rattail
These sorts of rattails feed in the muddy seafloor by gliding along head down and tail up, powered by gentle undulations of a long fin under the tail. The triangular head has sensory cells underneath that help detect animals buried in the mud or sand. The common name comes from the black edges around the mouth.

Humpback Anglerfish

Humpback Anglerfish
This black seadevil, of the size of a tennis ball, is one of the weirdest fish in the world. Female humpback anglers have an enormous head dominated by a cavernous mouth full of long slender teeth that can fold backwards when prey is being swallowed.


They are the oldest kind of fish we know on earth. They were believed to be extinct before fisherman captured a couple of them in the 1930s.

Northern Seahorse

Northern Seahorse
The seahorse is also one of the top weird sea creature. The male are carrying the egg in a special abdominal pouch, like you can see on the picture.

Longhorn Cowfish

Longhorn Cowfish
The longhorn cowfish are found in the Indo-Pacific region. Their flesh is poisonous and would not make for a very good meal !

Leafy Sea Dragon

Leafy Sea Dragon
Sea Dragons are arguably the most spectacular and mysterious of all ocean fish. Leafy Sea Dragons are very interesting to watch– the leafy appendages are not used for movement. The body of a sea dragon scarcely appears to move at all.


The longest lumpfish so far recorded from the American coast measured 23 inches, and weighed 13¼ pounds; the heaviest weighed 20 pounds but measured only 21½ inches (both from Orient, N. Y.), and the proportion of weight to length varies similarly in smaller fish.

Atlantic Wolffish

Atlantic Wolffish
The Atlantic Wolffish is a large bottom-dwelling predatory marine fish. The species is widely distributed across the North Atlantic.


A distinguishing feature of the Lionfish is its large fan-like pectoral fins. They are potentially dangerous, not only to the smaller fish the prey upon, but to humans, as well. The spines on its dorsal fins contain a strong poison, which is perhaps one reason they are totally unafraid of divers.

Deep-Sea Lizardfish
The Deep-Sea Lizardfish, is a member of the Synodontidae family, it is found throughout the world in tropical and subtropical seas at depths of between 600 and 3,500 m. It is considered as an ambush predator hunting in the abyssal seafloor and devouring prey with its razor sharp barbed teeth.

Fangtooth Fish

The Fangtooth fish is found in midwater depths of about five kilometers (three miles). They are extremely muscular and their teeth are so long that when the jaw is shut, the lower pair must slide into special sheathes on either side of the fish’s brain to avoid impaling it.

Fangtooth Fish

Check out this vicious fish devour it’s prey.

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Black Chimaera

Black Chimaera
Chimaeras are related to both sharks and rays. They are jawed fish with paired fins, paired nostrils, scales, two-chambered hearts, and skeletons made of cartilage rather than bone. Chimaeras grow up to two meters long, are found in the ocean floors and have a venomous spine which they use for defense purposes.

Clown Triggerfish

Clown Triggerfish
The Clown Triggerfish or Big-spotted Triggerfish is one of the most spectacular looking marine species. This species grows to 50 cm in length and is usually found in the warm parts of the Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. Even though its appearance is quite innocent; this fish is an aggressive carnivore that primarily preys on shelled invertebrates.

Longlure Frogfish

Longlure Frogfish
The Longlure frogfish are found in tropical oceans and seas around the world. They are small fish with large odd looking heads. They are mostly bottom-dwelling fishes that are well camouflaged; they employ the first dorsal spine as a fishing lure to attract prey.

Prehistoric Frilled Shark

The Frill Shark can be recognised by its slender eel-like body, six pairs of gill slits, terminal mouth, three-pronged teeth, single dorsal fin, caudal fin without a lower lobe, and brown colour. This species grows to a maximum length of about 2 m.
Checkout the frilled shark that was caught off the coast of Japan!


Black Swallowe

Black Swallower
The black swallower (Chiasmodon niger) is a deep sea fish that has the ability to extend its stomach 3 times its size so that it can swallow fish that are bigger than itself. It can be found in deep seas up to 1,500 meters or in hot tropical waters. It creates its own light because of the darkness found in some parts of the Pelagic zone. The black swallower can grow up to 25 centimeters.

Mantis Shrimp

Mantis Shrimp
This highly intelligent hunter with claws can lash out at prey with the force of a gunshot. Larger varieties have been known to shatter glass or sever human fingers. Most are either “spearers” (with sharp, mantidlike claws) or “smashers” (with blunt, clublike claws for cracking hard-shelled prey). Rare among invertebrates are the monogamous mating habits that several species demonstrate. Mated pairs share a burrow, and the male hunts for both his mate and young.

Something is Fishy in Hollywood

What if your fishing trip is ruined by a bad weather or any frustrating reason? Sit down, relax, and watch one of our fishermen’s cult movies -hereby compared with the well-known blockbusters that inspired them!


1. The Lord Of The Lings (from The Lord Of The Rings)

The Lords Of the Lings

2. Krill Bill (from Kill Bill)

Krill Bill

3. Ray (from… Ray)


4. Catch Me If You Can (from… Catch Me If You Can)

Catch Me If You Can

5. Swim Free or Die Hard (from Live Free or Die Hard)

Swim Free or Die Hard

6. An Inconvenient Trout (from An Inconvenient Truth)

An Inconveniant Trout

7. The Codfather (from The Godfather)

The Codfather


… Good night, ladies and fishermen! :)


Fishing is hardcore…and I’ve got the videos to prove it.

You think fishing is all about lounging lazily in a row boat, waiting for a fish to bite?
Well, think again. I’ve spent a few hours on YouTube and got 5 of the most awesome fishing videos.
Bet you won’t be able to convince yourself that fishing is boring after watching these clips.

5. Unbelievable catch!

What’s more hardcore than catching a marlin? Catching a marlin while fishing from a jet ski.


4. Lucky Fishermen.
Two fishermen out on the lake nearly die thanks to a maniacal pilot!


3. Fishing Bloopers.Fishing Bloopers: “A compilation of hilarious fishing mishaps. Apparently it’s harder to hold a wriggling fish than you’d think…”


2. Low Blow.Balls + jumping fish = pain.


1. Torch Fishing.
Definitely an excellent method of catching an insane amount of fish within minutes.