Statistics show that, alarmingly, over one quarter of employees steal proprietary information when leaving a company or organization. Whether these departing employees feel a certain sense of ownership over the data they choose to steal, or they intend to use the information to undermine the company, it is important to understand the legal consequences of employee data theft and the role of digital forensics in the event it occurs. Here, the digital forensics specialists at Atlantic Data Forensics detail how digital forensics can be used to investigate employee data theft.
Information Stolen by Employees is Often Stored Electronically
If an employee leaves a company or organization, especially against their will, there is always a risk that the employee could steal important, private information to use against the company. Common information that can be stolen includes strategy documents, codes, company formulas, customer lists and more, and if this information leaks, especially to a business competitor, it could have a profound, negative impact on the company.
Information or documentation that a departing employee could steal may be electronically stored on a hard drive, file, USB, email account and more, which means that digital forensics has a significant role in the retrieval of stolen information. As the digital forensics industry continues to evolve, the more efficient the process of retrieving electronically-stored information becomes.
Digital Forensics Specialists Have a Process to Retrieving Stolen Information
In a theft of IP investigation, digital forensics specialists take steps to ensure that information is collected and preserved effectively. The first step of an investigation includes preserving the stolen data on the employee’s device, followed by creating chain of custody documentation, photographing the hardware and verifying the preserved data, among other processes. Taking these steps ensures the collected data is considered acceptable in court. Once the data is properly preserved and deemed admissible in court, it is the job of a data forensics specialist to identify software and other information that may be indicative of theft.
Employers Can Take Steps to Prevent Employee Data Theft
While there is always a risk that a departing employee may steal valuable company information, there are steps that business owners can take to detect and prevent employee data theft. Signs that an investigation is necessary include witnessing an employee plugging in a personal USB drive into a company computer, visiting work at unusual hours, using file-sharing sites such as Dropbox, sending company emails to personal accounts and transferring data from the company network. If you notice any of these crucial signs of data theft, it is critical you contact a digital forensics specialist, such as the digital forensics specialists at Atlantic Data Forensics, who can perform a theft of IP analysis to uncover evidence and preserve electronically stored information (ESI). Once an investigation begins, eliminate any further risks by preserving all information on the suspected employee’s computer, securing it in storage and collecting the employee’s company-issued cell phone.
Discuss the Intricacies of Employee Data Theft with a Digital Forensics Specialist
Employee data theft is a major threat to your business and there are many steps you can take to detect employee data theft early to prevent a company disaster. The digital forensics specialists at Atlantic Data Forensics take employee data theft seriously and have years of experience collecting and preserving valuable company information from former employees. If you are a business owner and suspect a former employee has stolen valuable company information to use against your company, contact Atlantic Data Forensics now.