Today just about every company in America has their vital proprietary information on computers. Everything from email, client lists, pricing models, to trade secrets is stored on company computers. In many cases those computers leave the office daily, or sometimes never show up onsite if the employee works from home. Even if your company utilizes the most rigid security rules and not a single computer leaves the facility, emails are still sent back and forth from smart phones. A lot of the time attachments can be saved directly from emails to the smart phones and then transferred on from there without the company’s IT department ever being aware.
This situation becomes even more precarious when you include companies that allow people to bring their own device (BYOD). In these situations company data often resides on the personal laptop or in a “cloud” solution where the data are available from any device connected to the internet. What happens when the employee leaves? Can you guarantee that nothing was stolen, deleted maliciously, or taken to a competing shop? Without conducting a proper digital forensic investigation by certified examiners you may never know what was taken. Even if your internal IT department does their due diligence in trying to determine a theft, without the proper forensic handling of the evidence, it may not be admissible in court.
Attorney Sid Leach from the law firm Snell & Wilmer wrote an excellent paper (“What Every Lawyer Needs to Know about Computer Forensic Evidence”) pertaining to the valuable information that digital forensic investigations reveal. Whether it pertains to fraudulent activities, non-compete contracts, harassment, or intellectual property theft, Mr. Leach explains that “A forensic examination of a departing employee’s laptop or computer workstation can provide a goldmine of information concerning what the ex-employee was doing”.
In my own experiences I have seen companies both large and small with employees leaving abruptly or on bad terms causing suspicions as to their activities. It is always in the company’s best interest to at least have a forensic examiner create a forensically sound bit-by-bit copy of the device before it is used by another employee. In these situations, even if your company doesn’t proceed with an immediate investigation, at least you have a court admissible copy to work from if anything were to arise in the future. Wapack Labs is a digital forensic firm based in Manchester, NH with certified and experienced digital forensic examiners to handle any investigation or discovery need. Contact us today to see how we can help you!