As if business owners didn’t have enough to worry about, computer hackers are opening a new can of worms that can affect businesses on the sly. And not only is it a problem, but an embarrassing situation as well.

Let me give you an example:

There was a site based in Canada called Ashley Madison devoted to allowing people to arrange extramarital affairs. The site was hacked and the identities of the subscribers were leaked out to the hackers. The data was traced back to the subscribers and they were sent emails infected with malware.

Where the rub for businesses came in was that many of the subscribers had subscribed to the service using their business email addresses. So after the data leak, the malware went back into the business servers and attacked their networks. There was even evidence that subscribers had used email accounts in governmental agencies as well.

Of course, the users were attempting to hide their marital infidelity activity. But now, not only did the leak reveal the identities of those in supposed discreet affairs, but also put their employer’s systems at risk.

Here at International Investigators, we have continually encouraged employers to create guidelines and protocols for personal use of business computers and devices such as cell phones and tablets. It’s not just a matter of keeping employees on task and working, but for protecting the security of the company computer network and data.

Client Determines Parameters and Set the Scope of the Investigation

When we conduct computer forensic investigations, we are looking for data set within given parameters from the client. Often they have a narrow focus for the forensic data recovery. They already have an idea of what is going on and what evidence they need. The digital forensic analysis concentrates within those parameters.

The only exception to that in a computer forensic examination is in the case of a federal crime or child pornography. We are bound by law to turn over to authorities any evidence in those cases. While extramarital affairs don’t fit that scenario, the situation becoming public can be equally as devastating to a family and, if business networks are compromised, to a business.

But going back to the scope of an investigation; a computer forensics investigation does not usually include the evaluation of all the sites accessed by the user. While we may review the sites as specific data is being sought, user activity is analyzed based on what information the client is seeking. If a business owner is seeking unauthorized use of a computer, then that will be the focus of the work by the computer forensic investigators.

In other words, it is difficult to police employee behavior and forestall all potential digital incursions. Protecting your systems is a challenge that must be taken seriously. Having guidelines for employees is a good start and educating them as to why those restrictions apply is important. The second line of defense is to have a good digital forensics team like International Investigators waiting in the wings if a need should arise.

Although human behavior is unpredictable, you can count on us to get to the truth.

-T. Wilcox, CEO, International Investigators