How Computer Forensics Outed JK Rowling’s Pen Name

Document review process
Harry Potter’s 33rd birthday is just around the corner, and J.K. Rowling’s career is still thriving, despite some setbacks. Rowling set the Harry Potter series to rest, recently teasing fans with a new short story — but that’s it. The author did attempt to publish other books, in entirely different genres, and began the whole endeavor using a pen name. How did that pan out?

The Tweet That Ruined Rowling’s Anonymity

Judith Callegari, friend of lawyer Chris Gossage of Russell Solicitors, tweeted, suggesting that Robert Galbraith, the debut author who recently published The Cuckoo’s Calling, was, in fact, world-famous author J.K. Rowling. Rowling had published the book under the pseudonym, hoping to “work without hype or expectation and to receive totally unvarnished feedback,” NPR writes. Unfortunately, Gossage and Callegari made that more or less impossible.

Computer And Digital Forensics Confirm The Media’s Suspicions

Reporters teamed up with digital forensic services and document review services to confirm the rumors on social media. “Using various software programs, [investigator Patrick] Juola looked for authorial fingerprints by highlighting the most frequently used words. ‘Prepositions and articles and similar little function words are actually very individual,'” Juola told Time magazine. “It’s actually very, very hard to change them because they’re so subconscious.” In the end, the program and digital forensic investigation confirmed Rowling’s identity. Computer programs, documents, and even smartphones are playing an increasingly large role. Smarpthones, even have their own branch of digital forensics, aptly called phone forensics.

Phone forensics and digital forensics can accomplish a great deal. The media confirmed suspicions that world-famous Harry Potter author was publishing books under a different name, and investigators can also use some smartphone data and Google searches to help make determinations in criminal cases. More can be found here.