Case Study: Catching Digital Property Thieves Using Forensics

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Case Study: Catching Digital Property Thieves Using Forensics

computer hardwareSometimes business can be cutthroat. Such is the case when a trusted employee leaves your company and starts a similar business for themselves. You know they have taken the knowledge you provided them over the years to succeed – but did they cross the line and steal your intellectual digital property to help them start a new venture?

One of our recent clients faced that exact situation. Here are the details:

Several managers left an arms manufacturing firm. Within only a few months, they started up a new firm, producing similar products, in direct competition with the original firm. PRUDENTIAL Associates  was engaged to inspect the former managers’ computer drives, which had been erased. Evidence was uncovered that business plans and designs for a new firm were taken directly from the original firm. The new firm was enjoined by the court from offering their products until a sufficient time had passed for them to have produced their own designs. Thus the client firm achieved a level of security to its hard-earned market share.

Crossing the Line

Computer forensics helped this company save its business from an unlawful competitor that crossed the line. Even if your employee has not signed a non-compete agreement, they still have no right to take your ideas and business documents for their own gain.

If you suspect a former employee has crossed the line, data recovery can help your case. Even if they erased files or emails from the computer they were using, the advanced technologies available today in computer forensics can uncover the damage. You can actually find out the origin of documents and communication with the help of a data recovery expert.

It’s About More Than Just Ideas

It may seem like cases such as the one described above are simply about proprietary information and ideas, but there is much more to it than that. When someone leaves your company to start a competing business, they may steal things like software, digital instructional videos, and customer information.

Taking that information will give them a competitive advantage because instead of investing the time and money you did to acquire those items, they can use them from day one. Plus, someone stealing technology or software for personal or company use is piracy. If they did not pay for the right to use it, it is stealing.

Computer Forensics Experts Can Help

Data recovery and computer forensics  are taken very seriously by law enforcement agencies. Because the information collected from computers – from their hard drives and other systems – is so detailed, it is possible to know where and with whom exactly a document originated.

That means even if they save your file to their external hard drive, it can still be determined that you are the rightful owner. The document may be full of business ideas, operational guidelines, training tools, and other information you developed and even if they changed the name and timestamp associated with the file, they can be found out. This is also known as IP theft, and it is a crime.

Additionally, there are many other instances in which your business may need the help of a computer forensics or data recovery expert. You may choose to limit what websites your employees visit on company computers and on company time. Even though they may try to cover their tracks, you can keep an eye on things. It is not an invasion of privacy, if one of your employees is using company time or property inappropriately. You have a right to know.

When someone in your company crossed the line and is trying to profit from your work, they will not be able to get away with it. If you have the assistance of computer forensics and data recovery, that is. Call PRUDENTIAL Associates today about a security audit for your business, or for specific recommendations that can help protect your business data.

Sources:

http://www.biztechmagazine.com/article/2011/03/protect-your-business-computer-forensics
http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/white_collar/ipr/ipr

http://www.ncpc.org/topics/intellectual-property-theft/trends-globalization-and-digitalization-usher-in-a-new-era-of-intellectual-property-theft