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Company data theft is the unauthorised or illegal exfiltration, transfer or copying of confidential information or intellectual property from company networks, servers or computers to a third-party location.
Organisations rely on the security, integrity and commercial value of their data to remain competitive in their industry. Company data theft can undermine this, causing financial loss and reputational damage. According to the most recent Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, the percentage of data breaches caused by insiders/employees rose to 34% in 2018 from 28% in 2017 and 70% of intellectual property theft occurs within the 90 days before an employee hands in their resignation.
Company data theft can occur under different guises. Commonly, sales staff take proprietary company information for a competitive edge when moving to a competitor or setting up in competition. For example, in 2019, cyber security software specialists McAfee sued former senior salespeople whom it alleges stole company trade secrets when they moved to a rival security vendor. There has also been a rise in disgruntled employees selling sensitive customer data (such as credit card details) through the Dark Web.
‘Bad leavers’ typically transfer company information on to external storage devices, such as USB sticks, external hard drives and mobile phones, as well as utilising cloud storage platforms and email services. Forensically, it is also possible to retain data around documents being printed, which is another medium of data theft.
The ability to work remotely across numerous digital devices can make the prevention of company data theft, and even the post-event investigation, very difficult. Fortunately, the use of digital forensics can prove highly effective. By applying advanced forensic software and expert analysis, devices can be examined in detail to uncover a hidden audit trail, detailing how data has been exfiltrated and related communications of interest, all compiled into a court-admissible report.
It is crucial that a suitably qualified and experienced Digital Forensic practitioner undertakes such an investigation, and that forensically-sound methodology is employed and documented to ensure that the report produced can be relied upon in both legal and intra-company arenas.
CYFOR are Corporate Forensic Investigation specialists, with a wealth of experience in company data theft and breach of restrictive covenant matters. We are frequently instructed as independent third party experts by companies and their lawyers alike.
We are experienced in examining a broad range of electronic devices, possessing the appropriate expertise and technical resource to conduct high-profile and covert investigations. All investigations culminate in court-admissible evidence and reporting.
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