IST Discover-E White Paper:

Cutting Corners Could Cost You the Case

At IST Discover-E, we have years of experience helping our clients with their eDiscovery needs along with full scale legal support management systems.  We are expert in creating and customizing eDiscovery processes that best fit our client’s needs and expectations. Our model is uniquely transparent, easy to understand and effective in aiding our clients get the decision they want for their clients.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Data Collection

Most experienced IT personnel have knowledge of the organization’s data systems, networks and servers as well as historical knowledge of the IT infrastructure.  Your IT personnel can lend tremendous support in mapping relevant data systems prior to data collection; however, there is often more to a data collection than simply downloading the data.

You might ask, “why does it matter how it is collected - if the document, email, database or folder is able to be read, then what is the difference?”

The major difference separating forensic data collection from simple data collection performed by in-house IT is that forensic data collection, or digital forensics, provides the ability to deliver legally defensible proof that the collection methods did not alter or needlessly modify the metadata being gathered.  Forensic data collection further warrants that all of the data within the scope of the collection request was actually collected.

Essentially, data collection using forensically sound methods serves to convince opposing counsel and the court that nothing has been deleted or altered.  When data is not collected in a forensically sound manner, metadata is inherently changed - no matter the intention.  Once opposing counsel objects because of spoiled metadata, it is out.  Sanctions and/or summary judgment on your case could follow.

Many common errors can be mitigated through an expert consultation at the beginning of your collection.  Collaborating with a specialized digital forensics team at the outset of a project will ensure an efficient collection and will start with Custodians (Custodians are the people in the organization that create or access data that is potentially relevant to the matter at hand).

A digital forensics expert with years of collection experience will know what questions to ask you and your custodians to ensure all data sources that could contain relevant data are properly identified and documented. Potential issues which can delay progress and cost a lot of money can be quickly and efficiently flagged early in an engagement to make sure that things are handled correctly.

A forensic collection reaches files that reside within deleted space and other locations inaccessible by the user, providing a more thorough investigation. This data cannot be reached in a self-collection. Important data can often be found within archives, temporary locations, and caches. Intelligent forensic parsing brings this data to light.

 

 

Be Informed

Being prepared for a data collection can greatly reduce costs. The three most common mistakes in data collection include:

  1. Copying and pasting your documents onto a thumb drive – you are ignoring the data about the documents (metadata).
  2. You or your IT department perform the collection – it could be argued that the collection was done with prejudice.
  3. Just grabbing the documents or emails you think you need – experts can help uncover a treasure trove of additional data that you might not know exists.

 

 

Digital forensics experts will then determine the general types of data sources in your environment that contain data subject to discovery.  Collaboration with a digital forensics partner also makes data collection technologies, that may be more advanced or specialized than your IT department’s resources, available to gather exact, relevant and correct data from nearly any device, account or server.  Typical sources for collection include:

  • Desktops
  • Laptops
  • Mobile Devices (tablets and smartphones)
  • Servers
  • External Storage Media (CD/DVDs, portable hard drives, thumb drives, etc.)
  • Cloud Services (Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, etc.)
  • Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.)
  • Structured Data (SharePoint, CRM, ERP, accounting, DMS, etc.)

Additionally, in matters involving data that has been collected without using forensically sound methods, Judges will oftentimes find it necessary to appoint neutral, third-party experts to assist in handling and interpreting digital data.  If you find yourself in this situation, it is paramount that you use a digital forensics expert that has testified before as they are much more likely to be able to convince a court of law that spoliation of electronically stored information did or did not take place.  Further, if your expert is not diligent in documenting their work and supporting their conclusions in a scientific manner, legal attacks against their work may preclude you from being able to use important electronic evidence.  Lastly, they must also be able to explain complicated technical issues in a way that a jury or judge would understand.

With nearly twenty years of collective experience working on the most cutting-edge technologies, IST Discover-E’s Forensic Collections team has a uniquely advanced set of skills to tackle collections, preservations, analysis, and consulting on any matter involving digital data.  IST Discover-E is your single source for superior collections, processing and review services.  We understand the needs of our clients and consistently deliver legally admissible forensic data collections that go hand in hand with our expert data processing and review services.

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