Like it or not, the cell phone and Smartphone have become standard fare for personal use as well as issued in almost all employment arenas. In the corporate environment they’ve become a necessity just like the company-issued laptop. Yet it’s often forgotten about or completely overlooked during eDiscovery litigations and computer forensic investigations.
Why? That little device is always right in front of us and always being used. How can we forget it?
It’s most likely overlooked because we often assume digital evidence that may be relevant to litigation as only residing on a company network or an employee’s assigned computer. However, if employees are assigned a cell phone or Smartphone those devices should always be noted within a litigation hold notice and subsequently sought out for forensic acquisition.
Time and time again those devices have proven to possess the smoking gun. For example, the device may contain text messages or pictures that are relevant to a sexual harassment lawsuit and are not present anywhere else. So, the device is the ONLY place you will find your evidence. Additionally, the device may contain documents which are not authorized to be possessed outside of the corporate office such company customer lists,personally identifiable information, copyrighted material, etc. What if those documents were sent out of the corporate environment via a web based email account and retrieved by the recipient’s cell phone or Smartphone. But you’ll never know unless the device is listed as part of a custodian’s items that need to be collected, the same as the common items of their computer, network home shares and email account.
The moral here…
- DO NOT solely rely on a company’s network shares or a custodian’s computer as the only possible source of data relevant to your case.
- Always, always, always get access to the cell phones and Smartphones.
Forensic acquisition of those devices and the subsequent expert report may be just what is needed to win your case!