CD: Are search and seizure orders for homes and business premises becoming more common? How can this approach assist the forensic process? And what, if any, are the potential downsides?
Coyne: We have certainly seen more search and seizure orders recently. As they are typically ex-parte they can greatly assist the value of the forensic process simply because it is less likely that evidence can be tampered with or even removed all together. Judges in England do require evidence of the defendant’s past actions taken in attempting to ‘cover up’ any actions, or to demonstrate a ‘forensic awareness’ by wiping computer hard drives or memory sticks before they will grant an ex-parte search order.
Sykes: It is a very effective tool in the reduction of incidents to publicise the effectiveness of search and seize. The real prize is that the threat of high cost litigation and the complete uncertainty that results from a complete set of forensic images being done under your nose and without warning combine to make dishonest ex-employees opt for a confession early in many cases.
CD: Are there certain types of company which are particularly at risk of cyber related employee theft – or do all organisations need to manage this risk?
Coyne: Every organisation should take reasonable steps to ensure that sensitive information is secure. However, obviously those companies which hold the most valuable data – such as financial institutions – should ensure that their systems and processes are regulated by the tightest controls, as they are more likely to be targets. Any organisation where ex-employees may seek to establish competing business will also be targets from the theft of material that would allow the new fledgling company to advance swiftly. Typically such material will be customer or prospect lists and product design and manufacture plans or processes.Sykes: The biggest risks are in companies that invest heavily in research and development, whether that be in the development of new drugs or in the creation of software that performs sophisticated algorithms. The intellectual property in such work is usually huge, and the incentive either to take that IP and set up in competition or to join existing competition, can be too much for some ex-employees.