3 Things You Should Know About the Security of Your Corporate Data

Digital Forensics is the application of analytical techniques on digital media. Forensic investigations can cover all areas of computer use and misuse including internet and email activity, file access, digital document destruction, fraud, and most all other activity and action taken on digital media. Here are three ways HR departments can identify policy gaps and implement a digital forensics strategy as part of their overall internal operating procedures.

1.      Audit and Enforcement of Computer Use Policies

Most all corporations and government agencies have some type of Computer Use Policy, but few are effectively monitoring and enforcing it.  For example consider this paragraph that would be commonly found in any Computer Use Policy:


Employees should not bring personal computers or data storage devices (such as floppy disks, CDs/DVDs, external hard drives, flash drives, smartphones,tablets, or similar devices, mobile computing devices, or other data storage media) to the workplace or connect them to Company electronic systems unless expressly permitted to do so by the Company. Any employee bringing a personal computing device, data storage device, or image-recording device onto Company premises thereby gives permission to personnel of the Company’s choosing to inspect the personal computer, data storage device, or image-recording device at any time, and to analyze any files, other data, or data storage devices or media that may be within or connectable to the personal computer or image-recording device in question. Employees who do not wish such inspections to be conducted on their personal computers, data storage devices, or imaging devices should not bring such items onto Company premises.


The intent of the example is to deter employees from bringing personal electronic devices to the workplace, thus preventing them from being connected to corporate computer systems. It does this by threat of examination of the personal device(s) to determine if any corporate assets or confidential information reside on it. Although this may be an effective deterrent, the company may not know if a personal electronic device was connected to a corporate computer system. Only upon visually identifying a device that is suspected to be personal, does the company require an inspection.  Additionally, general inspection techniques would be unable to confirm if corporate data was accessed -or if it was accessed and deleted from the device prior to the company’s inspection.

While this policy example can suffice, it would be more effective if it were founded on Digital Forensics techniques. Adding the use of Digital Forensics to the Human Resources toolkit would evolve basic ‘Use’ policies into the digital age. Here is an enhancement to the above policy example:

“The Company reserves the right to conduct random and targeted digital forensic audits of all computer systems to determine if any non-corporate storage devices were connected to corporate computer systems or if any other corporate data was copied to any physical or logical (cloud or email) device or sent to an unauthorized party.”

The addition of the statement gives the corporation and HR department a much stronger policy on which to protect corporate data and computer systems. The company and HR has disclosed that not only will visual detection of a device result in an inspection, but the company will also proactively audit computers to determine if any physical media were attached to a given computer at any time, and obtain relevant information about the media (i.e. serial number, port it was attached to, and the date and time it was used). The company would also be able to identify any files that may have been copied to a device, without having the actual device in hand.

2.      Protection Against Departing Employees

Corporations are at risk of data security breaches when any employee departs. Upon an employee termination, corporate data, intellectual property, customer contact information, and corporate policies and procedures can be stolen unbeknownst to the company. Another serious threat is the destruction of data from files and hard drives, as well as sharing corporate information with competitors. Whether the departure is initiated by the employee or the employer, each situation creates a unique risk to the company. Human Resources departments that implement effective departing employee strategies based on Digital Forensics practices are positioned to quantify and mitigate risk and prepare for potential future litigation.

You can learn how to recognize and protect your company from this very real threat by reading our article “Protecting Confidential Information from the Dangers of Departing Employees.”

https://www.optimo-it.com/blog/protecting-confidential-information-against-the-dangers-posed-by-departing-employees/

3.      Preparing for Potential HR-Related Litigation

In the Departing Employee section and the article referenced above, we discussed the risks of departing employees in the context of information assurance. There is also a need to prepare for HR-related litigation with both departed and active employees. Many HR departments have been involved in some type of legal action related to breach of contract, harassment, discrimination, unlawful activity, wrongful termination, or trade secret misappropriation. Often, a Digital Forensic investigation is a necessary response to such litigation. A Digital Forensic investigation can yield relevant facts and evidence by looking for digital clues related to the alleged activity. However, we have seen examples of companies receiving the notice of pending litigation after computers have been internally recycled to another user, at which point, critical digital evidence is lost. Implementing a sound policy based on Digital Forensics practices will ensure data is preserved proactively either at the first sign of employee misconduct or immediately upon knowledge of a departing employee situation. Closely monitoring when valuable company information is accessed and by whom will help HR departments identify if questionable employee activity is occurring before permanent damage can be done. Digital Forensics can also be used to retrieve data surrounding employee communication within the context of a harassment or discrimination charge. These practices will help corporations be prepared for potential litigation and better yet, gather critical information to avert litigation before it happens.

 

In this article we’ve discussed the various ways HR departments can implement policies and practices that are supported by Digital Forensics to establish a foundation of Information Security. Any company which allows employees access to its computer system and sensitive information must be aware of the risks to its data and how to prevent misuse and destruction.

 

About the Authors:

Michael Miguelez is the CEO of OPTiMO Information Technology LLC and OPTiMO Digital Forensics. He can be reached at mmiguelez@optimo-it.com or 877-564-8552 x701.

Heather Stenglein is the Director of HR at OPTiMO Information Technology LLC.  She can be reached at hstenglein@optimo-it.com.

© 2014 OPTiMO Information Technology LLC, All Rights Reserved

8 Steps to Using Digital Evidence in Legal Matters

1. Call the Experts

Call us toll free at 877-564-8552 ext 3. And call us often. The digital-forensics experts at OPTiMO Information Technology have enough experience to know that the sooner you call and ask questions, the more winning cases we can deliver to you. When you call, our specialists will furnish you with prompt, game-changing advice about how cutting-edge technology and digital evidence can help you and your clients win your cases.

As pioneers in the field who bring twenty years’ experience to OPTiMO IT, we witness countless instances in which technology, digital evidence and forensics specialists can and should be used in legal cases. The experts at OPTiMO are qualified to offer advice regarding such times, what technology could be used to help your specific case, and a budget range for firm and client review and approval.

2. Develop a Strategy

OPTiMO can help you craft Pleadings and Discovery requests that best position your client’s case. OPTiMO can also help your clients prepare for and respond to discovery orders.

3. Navigate the Legal Process

OPTiMO can help you through the various legal processes to subpoena electronic devices and seek court orders requiring the same.

4. Collect and Safeguard the Data

Leveraging twenty years of trial experience, our special acquisition team is highly skilled at properly and legally retrieving electronic evidence so it is safeguarded, protected and preserved for full evidentiary use at trial.

5. Find the Evidence

We specialize in analyzing electronic devices and media and securely safeguarding the evidence from collection to production. Our proprietary process, controls and capabilities ensure evidentiary integrity and security. Our advanced technology enables OPTiMO to deliver results two to three times faster than our competitors.

6. Analyze and Present Findings

Our proprietary process distills millions of data sets into concise, easy-to-read reports designed to quickly assist our clients with preparations to use the electronic evidence in strategy, pleadings and trials. Our concise, comprehensive reports assemble the findings, timelines, infographics and other data presentations showcasing the best ways the data can support the client. Plus, we are readily available to quickly discuss the findings, strengths and weaknesses of the evidence and the application of the findings to the case.

7. Testify / Expert Witness

When it matters most – at depositions and trials – OPTiMO experts provide the maximum client value as our experts’ 20-plus years of trial experiences calmly deliver convincing testimony and facts in support of case-critical evidence in a court of law better than any firm in the nation.

8. Capability Marketing

OPTiMO’s team meets and coordinates with your firm’s marketing team to give you every tool necessary to showcase our unique digital forensics capabilities to existing and prospective clients in order to attract interest, discussion – and more cases to win. So call OPTiMO for free. No obligation.

Protecting Confidential Information from the Dangers of Departing Employees

Theft of confidential company information by employees is rampant; fortunately, there are steps employers can take to mitigate the risk of employee data theft. The Wall Street Journal recently reported the results of a survey conducted by the Ponemon Institute and Symantec Corp., which found that half of the employees surveyed said they had taken sensitive business documents with them when they changed jobs, in an article titled, “Departing Employees Are Security Horror.” This issue is more common and serious than ever because of the proliferation of email, online storage and departing employees using their own flash drives and handheld devices to carry and transfer data – all it takes is a few clicks. Employee data theft poses serious risk to company profits and sustainability.

The nature of the confidential information stolen by departing employees varies and ranges from specific intellectual property, such as source code, to client information and contact lists. Typical stolen items include:

  • Client lists and “Rolodex” information
  • Trade secrets or the “special sauce”
  • Price lists and costing information
  • Future opportunity data (project proposals, future contracts, etc.)
  • Employee records and personnel information
  • Investment, accounting (stock, profit/loss) and credit data

There are many signs that corporate data may be at risk. Some are obvious after the fact, and some can only be found using Digital Forensic techniques. Common indicators that data theft may have occurred or that data is at risk include:

  • Employee mass printing or copying of specific documents
  • Unusual timing of employee data access (i.e., after typical business hours or while on leave)
  • Employee copying to USB drives or the cloud
  • Unusual employee email patterns
  • Accessing personal email from company devices, particularly email with attachments
  • Communication with competitors or potential employers
  • Communication with clients with intent to steal them
  • Communication with other employees with intent to steal them
  • Accessing competitors webpages and social media accounts
  • Destruction or modification of data
  • Multiple employee departures (particularly from same department) within a short period of time

Typically, these suspicious employee actions take place in the weeks, days and hours immediately preceding the employee’s resignation or departure.

Few employers invest the time, effort or money to assess and implement policies and procedures to address the risks posed by departing employees before risks develop. As a result, employers are left scrambling to put out fires after employees leave and take confidential company information with them. Because it is easier and less expensive and time consuming to prevent the problem of employee data theft than to fix it after the problem arises, employers with sensitive or confidential information should include members of the management team, human resources and information technology professionals to develop and implement an effective confidential information security plan. The plan should include several elements:

  • Initial internal risk assessment of threat to confidential information by employees and others
  • Identify and prioritize the need for protection of each type of confidential information
  • Know who has access to what, where and how
  • Develop policies and documents to protect the confidentiality of information
    • Internal markings designed to clearly illustrate what is confidential
    • Internal physical and electronic access restrictions for those on a need-to-know basis
    • Incorporate clear confidentiality provisions in employment contracts, handbooks, policy statements and other written agreements with employees, vendors, etc.
    • Adopt appropriate email/computer use and mobile device policies to permit monitoring, deter misbehavior and eliminate employee expectations of privacy in electronic communications
    • Develop computer and handheld device policies for personnel to minimize risk of data traveling to unauthorized places
    • Establish effective monitoring and auditing of all policies (Having a policy that states employees are prohibited from copying data to personal devices or clouds is not sufficient or effective because there is no way to know when it happens)
    • Conduct employee and vendor training on policies
    • Conduct employee exit interviews that address physical and electronic access to information including devices used by or issued to the departing employee, ask questions about future plans/employment and conduct audit/analysis of employee data use depending on potential risk
    • Disable all departing employee accounts, email, remote access, key cards, etc.
    • Maintain internal access to departed employee accounts for possible future investigation or audit
    • Safeguard employee electronic devices after departure (forensic image and storage of data) or “wipe” personal devices used for work as permitted/required by company policies
    • Conduct risk analysis of employee activity during the weeks/months prior to employee departure

Unfortunately, no matter how diligent the effort, no data protection policies or systems can prevent all risk of employee information theft. Therefore, when theft is suspected:

  • Determine the nature and possible magnitude of risk posed by the disclosure or misuse of the information that was stolen
  • Contact your legal department or attorneys
  • Preserve all involved devices, including departed employee devices, network shares, email stores and cell phones
  • Contact a digital forensic company experienced in risk analysis and mitigation

Departing employee data theft is a very real threat to businesses big and small in today’s high-tech media age. But, by taking a preventative, preemptive approach to the problem, businesses hold the power to protect their bottom lines, security and reputations.

Co-author Michael Miguelez is the CEO of OPTiMO Information Technology LLC and OPTiMO Digital Forensics.  He can be reached at 877-564-8552 x 701.

Co-author Jacob Sitman is an Attorney at Fitzpatrick Lentz & Bubba  He can be reached at 610-797-9000, ext. 383. 

This article was published in the March 10, 2014, edition of Lehigh Valley Business.

OPTiMO Information Technology Announces VAR Partnership with EmergenSee

BLOOMSBURG, PA – OPTiMO Information Technology has finalized a Value Added Reseller (VAR) partnership with EmergenSee, the high-tech safety instrument that gives everyone – from government officials, police and security professionals to private citizens,  teachers and administrators, college students and even young children – access to help and rescue at the touch of a smartphone application.

When activated, the EmergenSee safety software employs GPS trackers and streams live video and audio feeds while tracking real-time movements to alert and provide crucial life-saving information to emergency responders, campus security, family members and friends if someone is in danger.

Other valuable features of EmergenSee include: silent two-way texting with EmergenSee’s monitoring center representatives; “stealth mode,” or black-screen recording, which gives the illusion to dangerous persons that the cell phone is off. Each incident is also saved as a file that can be retrieved, if necessary, to piece together an incident after it’s over.

OPTiMO IT president Michael Miguelez says of the partnership, “OPTiMO IT is already a leader in providing technology solutions to government agencies, businesses and civilians. Adding EmergenSee to our repertoire of services allows us to offer complete security packages to our customers – technology solutions focused on our clients’ personal safety as well as their businesses’ security.”

OPTiMO IT is much more than a typical VAR, however. It is a developmental partner of EmergenSee and will create, enhance and maintain EmergenSee applications for OPTiMO IT’s state and federal clients, as well as commercial clients and private citizens, in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region.  “We are thrilled with the progression of our relationship with OPTiMO,” expressed Cliff Beek, CEO of EmergenSee.  “They are a talented technology partner of EmergenSee and have now become a powerful dimension to our customer facing strategy.” 

”This is a partnership,” says Miguelez. “It puts OPTiMO IT in the unique position to effectively help our customers leverage the fullest potential of EmergenSee inside their organizations and out in the field because we are able to customize each client’s program to ensure the highest levels of both personal safety and intelligence for both employer and employee.”

About EmergenSee®

EmergenSee is a revolutionary technology that turns your smartphone into a Personal Security System instantly streaming Live Video, Audio and GPS Location & Movements to preset contacts in an emergency situation.  For more information visit www.EmergenSee.com.

OPTiMO IT is a full-service, technology solutions provider to customers throughout the federal and commercial markets. Our portfolio of professional services offers domain expertise in the following areas: Technology Solutions, Staffing, Digital Forensics, Information Assurance, Mobile Applications, & Cloud Solutions.

For additional information, contact OPTiMO at contactus@optimo-it.com or 1-877-564-8552

OPTiMO Information Technology Announces Launch of the NOTE System

Scranton, PA The Center for Independent Living (CIL), headquartered in Northeastern Pennsylvania, launched their online timesheet entry website in collaboration with OPTiMO Information Technology.

N.O.T.E. (Nepacil Online Timesheet Entry) was successfully launched in the beginning of May and has been received with great enthusiasm by its user base.  N.O.T.E. is fully integrated with the P.A.I.D. system (Payroll Accounting Informational Database) and has the ability both to handle simple user mistakes and to examine entries against fraud detection programs before every timesheet is submitted.

Built from the ground up, N.O.T.E. was designed, developed and implemented with a web-based application using Microsoft .Net and Microsoft SQL Server technologies. N.O.T.E. allows CIL’s consumers, attendants and service facilitators to submit timesheets and provides real-time budget details, timesheet history, forms and email confirmations.

“The system was designed to offer our clients an alternative way of doing timesheets online if they wanted,” said Craig C. Morrison, Director of Illinois for the Center for Independent Living.  “The system not only met our expectations, it exceeded them.  We went from two separate systems to one.  What a great way to streamline processes!”

The N.O.T.E. framework eliminates the front-end faxed timesheet and the manual verification process.    The online timesheet is in its last phase of development and the final version will be released later this fall. Both systems were developed for CIL by OPTiMO IT—a local IT professional service provider founded in 2008 with offices in Bloomsburg, Wilkes-Barre, Virginia and Washington, DC.

The Center for Independent Living promotes, supports, and enhances living options for people with disabilities so that they may remain in their homes and communities. The Center for Independent Living’s effective network of resources, advocates, skills training, guidance and experience assists people with disabilities gain their independence. This includes personal care, financial management, housing, medical equipment, building accessibility, transportation, civil rights protection, and more.

Established in 1988, CIL provides education, advocacy and coordination of services needed to allow individuals with disabilities to live productive, independent lives. Through individualized programs, CIL assists adults with disabilities and families of children with disabilities throughout their lives. Encouraging and providing choices, CIL allows clients control over personal budgets, shares resources, and provides freedom, resulting in a better quality of life.

OPTiMO IT is a full-service, technology solutions provider to customers throughout the federal and commercial markets. Our portfolio of professional services offers domain expertise in the following areas:  Technology Solutions, Staffing, Digital Forensics, Information Assurance, Mobile Applications, & Cloud Solutions.

For additional information, contact us or call 1-877-564-8552

OPTiMO Information Technology Announces the Launch of the PAID System

Scranton, PA The Center of Independent living (CIL), headquartered in northeastern Pennsylvania, launched a new payroll & accounting system in collaboration with OPTiMO Information Technology
P.A.I.D. (payroll accounting informational database) was successfully launched in late February and has been received with great enthusiasm by its user base.  P.A.I.D. replaces the former HALO system which was a heavily customized Microsoft Access framework with Medicaid billing application fully implemented to support its Pennsylvania operations.  Over time, this HALO system was not scalable to the raw number of client transactions performed on a monthly basis.

Designed from the ground up, P.A.I.D. was designed, developed and implemented with a web based application using Microsoft .Net and Microsoft SQL Server technologies.  This included replicating HALO’s existing functionality while adding additional features and functionality to improve efficiency and provide integration with the Center of Independent Living’s payroll and accounting applications.  P.A.I.D assists in budget, rates, custom timesheet intelligent analysis, and the ability to handle both simple user mistakes all the way to flagging entries against fraud detection.

“PAID is much better than Halo” according to Diane Alberigi, Payroll Supervisor for the Center of Independent Living. “Paid has faster data entry time and more efficient, in that the Personal Service Worker’s (PSW) demographic information. It only has to be entered one time, and it gets attached to each consumer, as opposed to being entered time and time again as they work for an additional consumers.   Also, Payroll is running much more efficiently.  This payroll period we processed more timesheets prior to the direct deposit deadline than we ever did before!  That means more workers (PSW’s) love us and less phone calls with problems!”

The P.A.I.D. framework is used in conjunction with both faxed timesheets and the ACES$ online timesheet entry system.  ACES$ online is in continued development and is scheduled to launch in early spring 2013.  Both systems were developed for CIL by OPTiMO IT – a local IT professional service provider founded in 2008 with offices in Bloomsburg, Wilkes-Barre, Virginia and Washington DC.

The Center for Independent Living, headquartered in Northeastern Pennsylvania, promotes, supports, and enhances living options for people with disabilities so that they may remain in their home and community. The Center for Independent Living’s effective network of resources, advocates, skills training, guidance and experience assists people with disabilities to gain their independence. This includes personal care, financial management, housing, medical equipment, building accessibility, transportation, civil rights and more.

Established in 1988, the Center for Independent Living (CIL) provides education, advocacy and coordination of services needed to allow individuals with disabilities to live a productive, independent life. Through individualized programs, CIL assists adults with disabilities and families with children with disabilities throughout their lives. Encouraging and providing choices, CIL allows clients control over personal budgets, shares resources, and provides freedom, resulting in a better quality of life.

OPTiMO IT is a full-service, technology solutions provider to customers throughout the federal and commercial markets. Our portfolio of professional services offers domain expertise in the following areas:  Technology Solutions, Staffing, Digital Forensics, Information Assurance, Mobile Applications, & Cloud Solutions.

For additional information contact OPTiMO IT – 1-877-564/8552

OPTiMO IT Receives Prestigious Northrop Grumman Information Systems “Supplier Excellence” Award

OPTiMO IT, with offices in Pennsylvania, Washington DC and Virginia, announced today that it has received a Supplier Excellence Award from Northrop Grumman Information Systems. The award honors suppliers who have contributed significantly to Northrop Grumman Information Systems and its customers through outstanding performance.

“We are pleased to accept this prestigious award, as we pride ourselves in providing our customers with unparalleled performance regardless of the scope of the project. Small or large, we deliver exceptional results delivered within the project’s timeline and budget,” said OPTiMO IT’s President and CEO Michael Miguelez.

About OPTiMO IT

OPTiMO IT is a full-service, technology solutions provider to customers throughout the federal and commercial markets. OPTiMO IT’s portfolio of professional services offers expertise in the following areas: Technology Solutions, Staffing, Digital Forensics, Information Assurance, and Cloud Solutions.  More information at www.optimo-it.com.

OPTiMO adds Popp to Commercial Division

February 14, 2013, Washington, DC. – OPTiMO IT introduced Richard Popp today as their new Director of Commercial Sales for the State of Virginia.  Mr. Popp steps into the position to spearhead OPTiMO’s continued, strategic expansion of their commercial division.

Mr. Popp joins OPTiMO IT after years serving as the VP of Business Development at Virginia Commercial Finance.  In his prior experience, Mr. Popp has created highly successful, managed sales and marketing programs for direct channel organizations.

Working from OPTiMO IT offices in Richmond, VA and Tyson’s Corner, VA, Mr. Popp will focus primarily on OPTiMO’s industry-leading Digital Forensics and eDiscovery services.  He will also play an integral role in OPTiMO’s strategic positioning in the Greater Washington, D.C. area and Virginia.

For more information about this release and OPTiMO IT’s commercial services, visit our website.

About OPTiMO IT: OPTiMO IT is a full-service, technology solutions provider to federal and commercial clients.  OPTiMO has offices in Washington, DC, Central and Northeastern Pennsylvania, and offers a portfolio of professional services in Technology Solutions, Staffing, Digital Forensics, Information Assurance and Cloud Solutions. For information, visit optimo-it.com

OPTiMO Information Technology Wins Federal Contract with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

OPTiMO Information Technology, which has 2 offices in Pennsylvania, as well as a Washington, DC and Vienna, VA office, has been awarded a contract to provide Digital Forensics Services in support of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.

The Digital Forensics division of OPTiMO IT was founded in 2010 to provide specialized, confidential, and professional guidance to support individuals, legal, corporate and government clients through any matter involving Electronically Stored Information.  Their industry-certified Forensic Analysts use investigative and analytical skills to paint a picture of how events transpired and report the digital trail in a manner that can be easily understood.  OPTiMO IT’s forensic team of experts has the experience necessary to provide professional and reliable results built upon a wide range of forensic examinations.

OPTiMO IT is a full-service, technology solutions provider to customers throughout the federal and commercial markets. Their portfolio of professional services offers domain expertise in technology solutions, staffing, digital forensics, information assurance, and cloud solutions. https://www.optimo-it.com

MePush and OPTiMO Join Forces to Offer Disaster Recovery and Cloud-Based Solutions

Two local IT solutions companies, MePush, Inc. and OPTiMO IT, are joining forces to offer business customers in the Mid-Atlantic region disaster recovery and cloud-based solutions.

The new partnership will help businesses make the most of their current staffing, increase productivity and uptime, and have a comprehensive plan in place if and when a disaster strikes.

Michael Miguelez of OPTiMO IT says, “Cloud-based solutions allow businesses to reduce technology costs while increasing productivity of their current workforce. Our cloud-based solutions include the delivery of software, infrastructure, and storage over the Internet as well as the technical know-how to help business owners operate at optimal efficiency.” OPTiMO IT’s cloud-based solution enables businesses to operate a secondary disaster recovery site in the cloud with a 4-hour restore time and a 100% availability guarantee.

Conor Quinlan of MePush, Inc. says, “OPTiMO and MePush have teamed up to provide flexible and scalable disaster recovery solutions, including offsite backup.”

Other disaster recovery services offered by the partnership will include an audit of a business’s current security and IT system strengths and vulnerabilities and a comprehensive plan to get the business back up and running following a disaster.

About MePush, Inc.

MePush is a computer services company offering business customers IT services, cloud solutions, and managed services. MePush has offices in Lewisburg and Bloomsburg. http://www.mepush.com

About OPTiMO IT

OPTiMO IT is a full-service, technology solutions provider to customers throughout the federal and commercial markets. Their portfolio of professional services offers domain expertise in technology solutions, staffing, digital forensics, information assurance, and cloud solutions. Optimo IT has offices in Bloomsburg, Wilkes-Barre, Washington, DC and Vienna, VA. https://www.optimo-it.com