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Using Computer Forensics To Catch And Prosecute Fraudulent Employees

Aug 20, 2007
While the computer has created a surge in productivity for companies, it has also opened the door for employees to perform higher level crimes that can devastate companies. Most employers and staff are shocked when they discover that an employee has been executing crimes right under their noses. The thing with white collar crimes is that criminals don't necessarily "look"like criminals and they often proceed for years without being caught.

When a company does suspect that a computer crime is underway, bringing in a computer forensics team is usually the only way to discover the truth. With more intelligent crimes come more intelligent cover ups. The standard computer user may not find a trace of evidence on the employee's computer, but computer forensics can expose a secret world of lies, deceit, and crafty cover ups.

Some of the most common inside employee computer crimes are:

-Embezzlement
-Fraud
-Insider trading
-Bribery
-Money laundering
-Identity theft
-Intellectual property theft

How White Collar Criminals Try to Cover Their Tracks:

Someone who is intentionally engaging in illegal activities will take often predicable precautions to cover their tracks. Some protective measures that a criminal may use to avoid being caught are:

-Wiping tools
-Encrypting data
-Secure deletion tools
-Remote data storage devices
-Steganography (writing hidden messages)
-Digital data compression

Although tech-savvy criminals can make the process of uncovering data difficult, it i's not impossible. Every digital action leaves a footprint and even data that appears to be "deleted" to the standard user can be uncovered using computer forensics.

When Computer Forensics Evidence Doesn't Stand Up in Court:

Sometimes employees will walk away without punishment even with undeniable evidence that they are guilty. When data recovered through computer forensics doesn't stand up in court, it's usually not the data itself, but the way in which it was collected. While an internal IT employee trained in computer forensics is an invaluable asset to any company, forensic evidence to be used in court is often best handled by an impartial, outside party.

A court will consider several things when considering the merit of the data collected such as:

-Who gathered the information (were they an impartial party?)
-Credentials and training of the person collecting the data
-Who had access to the data once collected?
-What was the chain of custody of the evidence?
-What security measures were in place to ensure interested parties did not have access to the information?

For companies that will choose to use their in house IT team to gather information, it is essential to have a well-documented standard process for handling data, detailing the chain of custody and the way in which the data will be stored. When computer forensics is handled inside of a company, the integrity of the data after it has been collected is at a much higher risk than when choosing an independent third party. Using the proper tools and procedures can help to mitigate that risk.
About the Author
Author is a freelance copywriter. For more information on computer
forensics
and crimes, please visit http://www.SunblockSystems.com
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