Data Theft Explained
Company data theft by an employee can be the transfer or distribution of confidential client data information, intellectual property (IP theft), marketing or business projections and plans from a company computer system or device.
Data theft can occur for many reasons, however, common scenarios are when an employee is soon to be leaving a company for a competitor or to start their own rival business. Confidential company data could be beneficial to their new firm and easily allow them to gain a commercial advantage in their new role.
We are instructed to conduct an investigation of computer and mobile phones by companies with concerns over employee data theft within a variety of different industries, however, it is most often sales based employees with access to customer account details where this type of breach occurs and normally that is to enable them or their new firm to use that data for future sales and financial gain.
How Data Theft Can Occur
Company data is often stored on different computers and devices that allow easy access to the employees who need to routinely work with it. This means that it may be stored to a local workstation, a company server, mobile phone or portable computer or tablet.
The digital information may also normally remain within the confines of company premises or may be accessible to an employee from other locations, such as for home working or during work related travel.
Storing or accessing data remotely can also mean that an employee may store data to personal devices for their own ease of access even if that breached company computer policy.
Such activity can also make the prevention and identification of data theft difficult, however, the use of computer and mobile phone forensic techniques can allow for the examination and investigation of a device to determine whether evidence exists to support or form the basis of disciplinary proceedings or an employment tribunal.
How Serious is Data Theft?
It is possible for an employee shown to have conducted a data theft breach to be convicted of a criminal offence. The Information Commissioner’s Office provides information of this at their website https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/report-a-breach/.
An examination and investigation of devices used by the employee suspected of taking confidential company digital information can provide the evidence required to form the basis of criminal or civil proceedings against them.
Using Computer and Mobile Phone Forensics to Detect and Provide Evidence of Data Theft
When suspected data theft occurs, the speed of response can be critical to ensuring any evidence, that may be lost or changed simply through further normal use of a computer or mobile phone.
Internal IT departments, while extremely knowledgeable, are not normally trained in digital forensic techniques and may not have the relevant accreditation’s or expertise to carry out a digital forensic examination or investigation and may actually inadvertently cause the loss of important hidden or system files.
Athena Forensics have the technical resources and experience to complete the investigation and examination of devices for suspected computer misuse within the workplace, including data theft, and are aware of common techniques used by individuals to transfer or disseminate company data and the methods that are often used by those individuals to hide such activity.
All evidence identified and produced by Athena Forensics as part of an examination and investigation of can be used within any future formal company or court proceedings.
If you suspect that an employee may have breached company policy by using a company computer to steal confidential company data or if you have any other concern with the use of computers or phones within the company then please contact us.