Basics of Computer Forensics

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Basics of Computer Forensics

Electronic Evidence Services for Attorneys

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In pursuit of vital evidence in the discovery stage, recovering a telling document or a deleted e-mail message could result in winning the case or accelerating a favorable settlement.

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As an example, in Linnen v. A.H. Robins Co., the surviving family of a woman whose death was the result of taking a combination of prescription diet pills called fenfluramine and phentermine (commonly referred to as fen-phen) sued the pharmaceutical companies. The claim made by the plaintiffs, was that the combination of the two drugs when taken by the deceased resulted in the development of a fatal lung disorder.

Forensic examiners retained by the plaintiffs were successful in recovering a telling internal e-mail message from an A.H. Robins’ employee to another that read: “Do I have to look forward to spending my waning years writing checks to fat people worried about a silly lung problem?” Soon after this discovery, the case was settled.

Electronic Evidence Services for Attorneys

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Consider the startling statistics that have surfaced in the past year that compel attorneys to consider digital evidence discovery in cases requiring documents and e-mails to be requested or provided to support or refute a claim arising from a lawsuit.

Over 93 percent of all commercial documents are produced and stored on computers of which only 0.003% was ever printed on paper.

An estimated total of 3.25 trillion e-mails were generated by U.S. businesses in 2002.

Just over 14% of U.S. corporations were ordered to produce employee e-mails in a pending civil litigation or regulatory investigation matter in 2002.

In a recent 2003 ABA survey, corporate attorneys acknowledged that over 83% of their business clients have no formal documentation retention/destruction policies in place.

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The topic of computer forensics can be confusing. To start, there are some technical basics that have to be understood. Next is identifying what the quantifiable benefits are to your clients' case. Finally, examining how computer forensics can be scaled into large cases that would otherwise be cost prohibitive. Feel free to read through these pages which are designed to help give you a basic understanding of the concepts required to manage digital evidence.