All posts tagged IP Theft

Only write the novel when you can solve the crime

A forensic mystery at Churchill War Rooms

When I first started as a Trainee Computer Forensic Analyst the sage advice I received from my manager was (as best as I can remember) “There are two types of people in this business: those that sit around figuring out how to commit a crime and the others that actually do it”.

When Tracey Stretton first suggested that my ‘creative’ imagination ought to be used for a “CF Murder Mystery” event I reeled.  Where do you start? How can I make it believable? What details are necessary for a mystery story?

By far the quote I found most helpful was from Andrew Hixson, of the James Bond short stories.

“I only write the novel when I can solve the crime”.

After the initial shock had worn off I quickly realised that I had been given a free ticket.  Without any billable time pressures I could finally, once and for all, take the time to work out from start to finish all aspects of a full ‘crime’.

The core of the plot came about in our first brainstorming session.  The event was to be limited both in time and, as alcohol was likely to be involved, complexity.  We needed a goldilocks computer security incident which was ‘just right’.

The simplest story is often the most believable, so it’s no surprise that we went with good old fashioned larceny.  After all, barring the consequences, we all can think of a way to steal data.

Between myself, Julian Sheppard and Tony Dearsley we collectively had enough stories about thieves and experience with thefts to provide a whole mini-series, not just one evening.

One of the more entertaining ideas we came up with was the discovery of a USB key found in the Channel Tunnel, equally laid on a rail across the Anglo-Franco border (The Discovery).  Unfortunately Sky Atlantic beat us to it and unveiled The Tunnel.  I still maintain that they took my idea and filmed an entire series in two weeks, just to throw me off!

Writing up the suspects and their backstory caused the most concern.  Each time I mentioned the name of an obscure fictional British or American spy there would be worried looks between colleagues.  “Is he day dreaming again?”, “What has this got to do with The War Rooms?”, “Why aren’t you on billable work?” was often asked.

Working out the details was easy once we had realistic characters.  Ultimately, for each of our suspects we laid out their motives and opportunities so as to leave a trail of clues to be picked out by our guests.  The plot becomes something far more interesting when we cheat and use the imagination of others to fill in the gaps.

In the words of Tolkien “Good stories deserve embellishment”, so it was decided that in order to describe a unique story we would need a unique visual guide.  This was Dial D for Data Theft, not Death by Powerpoint!

With judicious use of motion sickness inducing Prezi we were able to develop an interesting, if quirky, set of ‘slides’.

And then suddenly it was time for us to set out to the Cabinet War Rooms!

What a night it was! A perfect combination of story, location and audience.  Indeed the audience participation was, as I expected, the most inventive part of the presentation.

When asked why they thought a particular culprit was guilty, some of the answers were not exactly scientific:

Shifty Eyes”
“He owns a Porsche.”
“She reminds me of my ex-wife”

However, my favourite quote of the night goes to the guest who wrote on his guessing card:

“It was Felix [because] his shirt is far too tight and he’s a liar!  There’s no way he’s 6’10”! 5’11” at MOST“.

Then, with a bottle of something nice to the winning entry from our audience (none of the above were winners, sadly) we wrapped up the evening with an exciting dénouement and final farewell.

Electronic evidence in Continental Europe

Andrew Szczech - Kroll OntrackAs the first of our series of webinars about the use of electronic evidence in Europe is about to start (Tuesday 30 April), I thought it would be a good time to say a few words on the subject.  For our webinar series, we have been able to bring together a prestigious group of representatives of international companies and legal practitioners (along with our own e-discovery experts) to have an open discussion about how e-discovery technology is being used in Europe.  Given the calibre of the speakers, the discussions are set to be highly informative, and I’m very pleased to be moderating this discussion.

Having worked in this business for over nine years, we are seeing a number of ways in which e-discovery technology is assisting our clients in Europe.  Whilst the appetite for e-discovery technology here does not yet match that of the UK, or the US (the legal systems in Europe generally being of inquisitorial nature rather than adversarial) – electronic evidence still has an important part to play.

The main area in which we see the bulk of activity is (understandably due to the volume of documents involved) assisting clients to respond to EU competition investigations (both by local competition authorities and the European Commission).  These require a rapid response rate and the requisite experience to put in place the right strategy to deliver the results required.  However, in addition to responding to regulators, we have increasingly assisted companies to perform their own ‘internal audits’ in order to flush out any potential issues and deal with these (either through leniency applications to the authorities or even sometimes immunity) before any intervention by the authorities.  Another separate angle for e-discovery is that with the proliferation of different modes of communication in use today, from use of personal devices (iPads, iPods, Android phones and tablets) but also messaging systems (Reuters, Bloomberg, Instant Messenger, etc),  companies and law firms can benefit from the proper management of electronic evidence – whether this is helping to prevent theft of intellectual property, finding a key piece of evidence that supports your case, or simply checking that the business is running as it should.

Navigating the complex data protection laws in Europe when moving data across borders can prove challenging, but there are always practical approaches that can be adopted to overcome these obstacles.

I’m proud to say that our European team is growing, and that our new member, James Farnell, joins us a Legal Consultant for Continental Europe.  James is a UK qualified solicitor and will initially be working with us in Brussels and the Nordics.

I hope you can join us next week for the start of our European webinars series, Staying a Step Ahead of the Regulators, and will look forward to updating you on my next post.

About Andrew Szczech

Andrew Szczech, Director of Legal Technologies Services, EMEA, is responsible for the business development of Kroll Ontrack's legal technologies business in Europe, focussing on the provision of electronic evidence services to law firms and corporates. These services include e-discovery, computer forensics and consulting which are provided in order to assist clients in multiple practice areas including dispute resolution and antitrust. Frequently, there is a need for solutions to address complex cross border data protection challenges. Andrew also manages the growth and development of global accounts throughout Europe.