How Digital Forensics Can Help Mitigate Risk for HR Professionals

January 13, 2021

How Digital Forensics Can Help Mitigate Risk for HR Professionals

Synopsis
3 Minute Read

Organizations face many kinds of risk. Some are external like hackers, some are regulatory like data compliance laws, and some are internal like employee fraud or misconduct.

Ken Lew
Ken Lew
Manager, Digital Forensics

Organizations face many kinds of risk. Some are external like hackers, some are regulatory like data compliance laws, and some are internal like employee fraud or misconduct.

HR professionals are, of course, on the front lines of dealing with employee issues. COVID-19 has led to remote working environments at all kinds of workplaces, and even though some employees will return to the office, it is reasonable to assume that the work from home culture is here to say. This kind of environment is ideal for employee misconduct and thus organizations now face an increased risk of this behaviour.

Given the rate of change, how is a busy HR professional like you supposed to stay on top of your responsibilities?

Enter digital forensics.

What is digital forensics?

Digital forensics is a branch of forensic science focused on the recovery and investigation of material found in digital devices. It is most often used in relation to cyber crime.

A digital forensics investigation can take many forms. Sometimes with appropriate authorization, that means seizing devices to analyze contents. Other situations could require a deep dive on email and internet browser activity.

How can digital forensics be used in the workplace?

There are three areas particularly well-suited for digital forensics: fraud, employee issues, and intellectual property (IP) theft.

Fraud

If you’re working to prove that fraud has taken place at your workplace, digital forensics can help. With accounting and bookkeeping moving increasingly to digital platforms, there are more electronic records of financial transactions. This means that fraud can be easier to prove — if you know where to look.

For example, digital forensics can find hidden spreadsheets or search through emails to find specific transaction information.

Employee issues

When employee issues arise, your job is to reach a solution quickly and effectively. These processes can drag on, creating negative environments and damaging morale. Digital forensics can expedite the process and protect organizations navigating these situations.

Let’s look at an example. At a car dealership, an employee was suspected of using inventory vehicles for personal use. The employee denied it. With the help of a digital forensics team, the dealership found emails from the in-car security system sent to the employee. This provided the evidence they needed to terminate the employee.

IP theft

With people more likely to move from job to job in today’s economy, and easier access to company documents via organizational data storage systems, IP theft is a significant threat to businesses. To protect themselves, organizations must show that the risks outweigh the rewards and prosecute those who commit IP theft.

Digital forensics allows employers to investigate the digital behaviour of team members, including seeing who downloads certain files, like customer lists or unique trade secrets, or determining if someone printed a document.

A fourth consideration; capture the data as part of your standard processes when key employees leave your organization abruptly or prior to a sensitive departure. Too often, we have been asked to examine a device well after an employee leaves and suspicious behaviour comes to light. In the time that the employee left and when the concern arises, the devices have either been redeployed or wiped, destroying any useful data history. Securing the data for high-level finance or management people is not difficult or as costly as the million-dollar contract that walked out the door with your former project manager.

Leave Digital Forensics to the Experts

Organizations are quick to see the advantages of digital forensics and rush to get started by using their IT department resources. This is a common mistake and result in significant issues.

IT staff are not trained to manage digital forensic projects. Although they are experts at keeping your computer systems up and running, they are not experts in preserving critical data that could be used in a trial. Nor are they trained to look for hidden artifacts or deleted data that may be crucial in an investigation.

MNP has experienced digital forensics professionals with backgrounds in either law enforcement and/or the military ensuring that investigations are carried out with precision and rigour that fully meets the expectations of any court of law, whether civil or criminal.

Using the latest techniques, hardware, and software, MNP can identify, collect, and preserve employee data from the cloud and any number of digital devices such as laptops, smart phones, tablets, iPads, desktops, servers, and printers. This data can then be forensically analyzed to uncover evidence of wrongdoing such as:

  • Misuse of computer resources (violation of policy)
  • Data (IP) theft or exfiltration
  • Harassment
  • Discrimination
  • Breach of contract
  • Time theft
  • Offensive communication
  • Viewing of illicit material

For a free consultation we can assist you with digital forensics, data preservation, data recovery, or digital evidence, contact:

Ken Lew, B.Eng., Computer Systems
Forensic and Litigation Support
778.309.4750
[email protected]

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