Preventing misuse of your data

It’s one thing stopping harmful things getting in; AccessData can help you find out who might be misbehaving on the inside.

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Preventing misuse of your data Adrian Culley advises clients to tell users their e-mails are being audited.
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By  David Ingham Published  June 24, 2012

It’s one thing stopping harmful things getting in; AccessData can help you find out who might be misbehaving on the inside.

It’s one thing stopping viruses, worms and trojans getting into the organisation, but how do you make sure that the people inside your company are not mishandling or leaking information? This is where AccessData, a company with more than 20 years’ experience in digital forensics, can help.

The company helps organisations keep tabs on information and ensure that it is not being disclosed to the wrong people. The company does this by focusing on the three data states: data at rest, which is the data sitting on laptops, desktops and servers; volatile data, the contents of RAM; and data in motion on wireless and fixed networks. The company has solutions and technologies to address data in all three states.

As an example, a corporation might be negotiating an acquisition or merger and it is concerned that information might get leaked. Management could put a system in place that immediately raises an alert whenever any reference to the acquisition floats across the company’s network. “We give visibility into what’s going on,” states Geoff Brooks, regional sales manager.

The company’s products can be used to stop incidents before or as they happen, as above, and also to track down the culprits after a breach. For example, if an individual is suspected of illicit activity, the company’s technology can be used to take an image of that user’s hard drive, which can then be used in any subsequent investigation. “There’s no disputing this image because it’s been captured by an industry recognised forensic tool,” says Brooks.

This may be very effective, but civil liberties groups are surely wary of the technologies AccessData develops. Simon Whitburn, VP of international sales, says that the company’s products have to receive a US export license before they can be sold to clients in certain countries.

In many geographies where they are in use, organisations using the products have to abide by local privacy laws. Adrian Culley, the company’s global security engineer, says that his laptop carries a disclaimer stating that his employer is free to audit his machine at any time, as long it is related to a police investigation or suspected corporate misuse.

The key point, he says, is that the end users is being kept in the know. “We’re not coercing anybody into any activity,” Culley says. “Digital evidence is ultimately ones and zeros and things are either there or they’re not. We recommend to all of our clients that they tell users on a quarterly basis their e-mails are being audited.”

The company advises its clients to adhere to the principles of subsidiarity, which means that once investigators find what they want, they go no further; and proportionality – using the correct tool at the correct time.

Culley also addresses concerns about the reliability of digital evidence. “I know of no example in the world where anyone has ever shown that digital evidence has been successfully tampered with and planted,” he says. One thing the company is clear about is that its products are needed and are in demand in the region. “You have people walking away with millions of dollars. It has happened in the UAE,” says Culley. “Everyone is very busy,” adds Brooks.

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