Data Theft – An Overview
Data theft is the illegal or unauthorised copying, transfer or removal of confidential company information from a company computer or device normally with the intention of commercial gain to a competitor.
This type of 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 information could be beneficial to their new firm and easily allow them to gain a commercial advantage in their new role.
We are routinely instructed to conduct an investigation of computers 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 information for future sales and financial gain.
The Methods of Company Data Theft
Company data and information 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, computer or tablet.
The 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 files remotely can also mean that an employee may store data to personal devices for their own ease of access even if that breached company 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.
Is Data Theft an Offence?
It is possible for a company 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 a computer or mobile phone used by the employee suspected data theft can provide the evidence required to form the basis of criminal or civil proceedings against them.
The Investigation of Data Theft
Internal IT departments, while extremely knowledgeable, are not normally trained in digital forensic techniques and may not have the relevant accreditation or expertise to carry out a digital forensic examination or investigation and may actually inadvertently cause the loss of important hidden or system files.
When the theft of data is suspected, 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.
How Athena Forensics Can Assist in the Investigation of Data Theft
Athena Forensics have the technical resources and experience to complete the investigation and examination of company devices for suspected data theft of confidential or commercially sensitive information and computer misuse within the workplace.
We are also aware of common techniques used by individuals to transfer or disseminate company files and information 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 any digital investigation 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 computer for the theft of company information or if you have any other concern with the use of computers or phones within the company then please contact us.
About Athena Forensics
For information on our digital forensic services or if you require any advice or assistance please contact a member of our team on 0845 882 7386 or via email on firstname.lastname@example.org, further details are available on our contact us page.
Our client’s confidentiality is of the utmost importance. All correspondence is treated with discretion, from initial contact to the conclusion of any computer forensics investigation.
Our digital forensics experts are fully aware of the significance and importance of the information that they encounter and we have been accredited to ISO 9001 for 10 years.
Our forensic experts are all security cleared and we offer non-disclosure agreements if required. Our premises along with our security procedures have been inspected and approved by law enforcement agencies.
Athena Forensics do not disclose personal information to other companies or suppliers.