Cross Border Data Security: What Happens When Data Lives Abroad?

Changes in the rules governing cross border data security have presented new challenges to the world of eDiscovery. What can you do when your data lives abroad?

shutterstock_85733249RVM was recently asked to perform a forensic data collection overseas by a Company dealing with a governmental pre-investigation regarding potential wrongdoing and federal laws violations. The Company needed to collect data from computers and android and Blackberry cell phones located in India and Dubai. The Company was hitting a wall when it came to the extraordinary costs associated with such a collection, despite the small number of devices from which it needed to collect data.

When approached by the Company, RVM explored a more cost-effective and defensible solution. Rather than incurring the extraordinary expenses of traveling to India and Dubai, RVM’s experts proposed a guided remote collection. Once the client determined that there were no privacy law issues, RVM was hired to do the work.

RVM prepared pre-configured hard drives to be sent to each Company’s office and trained the Company’s IT personnel on how to proceed with the computer collection via GoToMeeting. Regarding the cell phones, the Company shipped all but one Android device to RVM, so that the forensic team could perform the data collection onsite. Since one user couldn’t part with his cell phone for an extended period of time because the device was critical to his job function, RVM came up with a solution not attempted before. After obtaining approval from the Company’s IT, the RVM Forensic Team configured a restricted workstation, set up with a unique user account and password for the Company. Both RVM and the Company recognized that shipping the laptop overseas created additional risks: the device could get lost, or damaged in transit. Even if the workstation arrived in one piece at destination, it was imperative that the collection work seamlessly once the computer was turned on. All of the parameters were checked and the Company and RVM confirmed the collection could begin safely, so the cell phone was plugged in to the laptop, and the collection software acted as an extension of RVM’s secure network. This custom workflow allowed the Forensic Team to successfully perform the collection on the Android device in compliance with all applicable evidentiary and authentication protocols.

Forensic collection includes the physical acquisition of digital data using a methodology that satisfies evidentiary requirements relating to chain-of-custody and authentication. The Company’s personnel connected the pre-configured hard drives via USB to the computers with the ESI. RVM’s technicians then connected remotely to the computers (only with the users’ permission and knowledge).

Adding yet another challenge, the Company required that workers not be disturbed during business hours, so the collection happened during the off hours. RVM continuously monitored the progress of the collection despite the 12 hour time difference.

While the collection process happened over the span of one month, the full collection only took an aggregate of 12 hours, saving the Company thousands of dollars.

The data collected was encrypted, and the hard drives and laptop were shipped back to RVM. RVM helped cull and deliver the data to the law firm representing the Company, and the documents were successfully reviewed. This outcome confirmed RVM’s expertise to seamlessly handle projects around the globe.