Email shock a business horror

There’s an interesting article by David Wishart published at theage.com.au: “On March 1, 2005, the giant US bank Morgan Stanley learned that it had effectively lost a $US1.45 billion fraud case. It lost… because it had simply failed to produce evidence. It had forgotten (or deliberately failed) to discontinue its practice of overwriting emails and it had not produced all emails incorporating 29 specified words between certain dates seven or so years ago. There were more than 2300 back-up tapes”.

“For any business using email, this is scary stuff. Not only are there horrendous cost implications because conventionally you have to pay the cost of finding and providing the information to the other side in a court case, but also if you have destroyed an email you sent or received, the company and its officers and employees may breach provisions soon to be inserted in the Crimes Act”.

It is commonplace that computers and the internet together have revolutionised business life. If all computers’ storage space in an organization were to be filled with basic Word documents and you were to print them out, the pile of documents would be “higher than Mount Kosciuszko”.

Correspondence is routinely kept on the recipient’s computer (and the business’ server and back-up storage, as well as the sender’s equivalents). Moreover, someone with something to gain or lose can easily recall a document and delete or alter it, or resend an email after alteration so that it appears to be the original… If a crime has been committed, all of this makes discovery difficult.

Computer forensics techniques step in here. Instead of foraging through our pile of paper, the expert gets the computer to do the work. Specific programs may be used to search for and within documents and other files. Besides, to deal with alterations or destruction of the data, or even forgery, the expert may need to take an electronic copy of a hard disk.

“Meanwhile, the next time you consider whether to delete an email weigh up whether it is better to add habitually to the massive archive of material in your business and thus risk the Morgan Stanley result and also risk strike suits against you, as opposed to deletion, which might lose a dispute and even might be a crime. Perhaps you might reflect on the insanity of a system that tells you what is right or appropriate only after the event.”

This blog is run by the authors of FindProtected.
FindProtected is a security program that allows you to search your network for password protected and evidential files. With FindProtected, it is way much easier to discover electronic evidence that may be used in litigation.

Leave a Reply