Computer forensics reveals data thieves’ tracks

How experts piece together a case against employees who steal valuable digital information

According to a recent study, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that 75 percent of employees steal from the workplace. While many of these incidents of theft may include innocuous items such as office supplies, they also can take the form of something far more valuable and highly portable: data.

Last year, Bank of America reported that an insider sold customer information to the tune of $10 million in losses for the bank. Beyond grabbing negative headlines, workplace theft of data considered proprietary, confidential, copyrighted or otherwise damaging in the hands of a competitor remains highly problematic for businesses the world over. Oftentimes the theft occurs at the hands of departing employees either hoping to get ahead at a competitor, from a competing enterprise or profit from the sale of the data.

Analyzing the data

Once the data forensics experts have taken the preliminary steps to preserve the employee's IT assets, the analysis can begin. Skilled forensics investigators have a number of methods they use to piece together the actions of a suspected data thief. These digital clues help compose a picture of both what the employee may have done as well as the employee's actual intent, nefarious or otherwise.

Contributing Author

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Veeral Gosalia

Veeral Gosalia is a senior managing director in the FTI Technology segment and is based in New York. Mr. Gosalia’s areas of expertise include data...

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