Phillip Rodokanakis, CFE, EnCE, ACE, DFCP
U.S. Data Forensics, LLC
In the old days, sometime before 1975 B.C. (before computers), a company’s data production was usually produced in paper format only. That all changed when we began storing our data digitally. Some studies suggest that more than 90 percent of all new data is created digitally and perhaps more than 70 percent of that never migrates to paper.
In my last blog post, "Computer Forensics: Following the Digital Bread Crumbs," I addressed why CFEs must familiarize themselves with the type of data that can be obtained from digital forensic examinations. Although digital forensics got its start in the early 1990s, a newer discipline, Electronic Discovery or eDiscovery, has made major inroads in the 2000s.
Discovery is the process whereby civil litigants seek to obtain information from other parties based on the notion that the parties should not be subject to surprises at trial. Litigators employ a number of tools during the discovery phase, such as document requests, interrogatories, requests for admissions and depositions.
As the importance of Electronically Stored Information (ESI) has increased over the last decade, responding to discovery requests has become a significant management function and cost center for larger organizations. In response, a new industry was born to address eDiscovery. Surveys indicate that more than half of the firms surveyed use an outside company to collect, identify, verify, recover and produce ESI.
The creation of this new industry has brought to the scene a number of new players, not only in the companies that perform eDiscovery services, but in software vendors that have developed new applications capable of processing ESI data and provide for management review database platforms.
The plethora of new eDiscovery vendors means that many different and incompatible formats exist, as each vendor introduces new features and capabilities. Accordingly, it will take years for a few vendors to gain predominance.
ESI can also be produced in TIFF or PDF files, which are like a photograph of an electronic document. Alternatively, it can be produced in “native file format,” that is the format in which the information was created and used in the normal course of operations. Native format production is usually preferred, because it preserves the file metadata (i.e., data about the file, such as file creation date, last saved date, etc.).
Tune in for my next post that will address the differences between eDiscovery and Digital Forensics.