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It wasn’t long ago that we were measuring disk sizes in the hundred’s of Megabytes (MB), this swiftly increased to the Gigabyte (GB) and now you would be hard pushed to purchase a home PC without at least a Terabyte (TB) – which is 1000 GB.
What on earth would anyone need that sort of storage capacity for you might ask? And it’s not necessarily a daft question. Spreadsheets and word-processing documents are not particularly large file sizes and it’s more than fair to say that you could store millions of them and still only need GB’s of storage
But we’re forgetting e-mails and other file types, particularly those of the multimedia variety.
E-mails are sent literally in their hundreds of millions, if not billions each year. And in the corporate environment, with ever-increasing regulation and litigation, there is a duty under Sarbanes Oxley to retain them. Furthermore, the new CPR rules require greater disclosure and corporates are expected to be in a position to do this efficiently and expeditiously. (I’ll be talking about this in another post).
Storage manufacturers are clearly aware of this and as manufacturing techniques constantly improve so does their ability to be able to produce storage media with bigger capacities. But interestingly enough, and quite critically, the physical size of these devices is reducing.
Well evidentially, the implications are huge. We all know that data is not easily deleted, and even if it is, it’s often capable of being recovered by the likes of us. But the temptation maybe not to even bother if the capacity of the drive is such that there is no shortage of storage. But even if that nasty employee is about to sabotage your latest set of CAD drawings that your design team has spent the last 8 months preparing, and delete the whole directory, the chances are the areas of the unallocated disk are sufficient to allow them to be recovered – and more importantly to evidence it to a court if you so desired.
But the real danger, I feel, is the ever-increasing capacities of micro storage devices. The USB thumb drives and flash memory cards that everyone seems to have these days. I recall a few years ago a meeting in London with a particularly brash American guy who was boasting that he had the newest and latest 1GB thumb drive. Well, he must have hit his thumb with a hammer because despite insisting on wearing it around his neck on a lanyard it was the size of a typical mobile telephone!
Not so these days.
We have recently acquired a small video camera that we use to video our investigators performing certain forensic techniques for courtroom presentation. This little camera came supplied with a 32GB storage card which is no bigger or thicker than a 1st class postage stamp.
A device this size is traditionally compatible with all types of computing devices and can just as easily be inserted into a computer on the office network and used to download significant volumes of confidential information. Your firm (or your clients’) Intellectual Property has just been swiped at the click of a button. That dodgy employee no longer has to carefully select the files they want because they are limited to how much they can take. They’ve got more than enough room on their flash memory card to simply copy whole directories and sift through the stuff later. And their ability to physically remove it off the premises is made easier because of the diverse range of equipment it can be secreted into (that’s if they don’t decide to hide it on themselves).
Consider a freelance technician working on the latest Tom Cruise movie (co-starring me of course). They’ve been tasked with some post-production work and it’s going to take them a few days. Obviously, security is tight to ensure that the video isn’t copied in any way and leaked onto the grey market. But how do you legislate for the 32GB storage card that is hidden inside your watch and has more than enough capacity to download the whole movie 3 or 4 times over and then sneak it out the door? Unlikely you may say, a bit too Mission Impossible.
Think again. This type of espionage is common and for a fistful of dollars, you can buy one of these micro storage devices, stealing millions of dollars worth of work and turning it into hard cash faster than the speed of light. And if you really can’t get it out the door, just whack the drive into your mobile telephone and send it out over 3G broadband to your home FTP server – sure it might take a while but the payback is going to be immense compared to the phone bill!
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