Tuesday, January 5, 2010

CSO Magazine: The Digital Trail of the Maltese Falcon - Private Investigations in the Information Age

Dashiell Hammett, author of the Maltese Falcon, The Thin Man and Continental Op

Psycholinguistics uses insights from the field of psychology to help gain a better understanding about the intent and state-of-mind of people through their communications. This is important because much of the law is focused on whether or not there was "intent" associated with the actions of individuals. Intent is a critical element that must be be established in most litigation. Ed Stroz of Stroz and Friedberg in CSO Magazine, 1-5-10

The Digital Trail of the Maltese Falcon: Private Investigations in the Information Age

By Richard Power

My latest piece for CSO Magazine is now available on-line. It features an interview with Ed Stroz of Stroz and Freiberg. Stroz is a global leader in the field of corporate cyber security investigations, and his insights on this vital issue are invaluable.

Here is one of the seven questions I posed to him, follow the link below to read the rest of the interview:

Richard Power: The ways in which the shift from the Industrial Age to the Information Age has revolutionized different fields of expertise and endeavors related to risk, security, privacy, etc. is of great interest to us all; and few are as fascinating as what the Information Age has meant to the field of private investigations for both for the corporation and the individual. It is something that I have been tracking for almost two decades, and that you and I have been discussing throughout. So for our CSO readers, give us your overview of where the field of private investigations was, technically and professionally, when you went into it after your years with the FBI, and where it is today, technically and professionally?

Ed Stroz: Private investigations are more important than ever, both for their private party clients, and for the government. Investigative skill is needed to address areas where suspicions or allegations have been made, but they also are being used for additional due diligence and assurance in the wake of financial scandals like that of Bernard Madoff. But today, private investigation requires updated skills.

As recently as the early 1990s, expertise in computerized technology was viewed as a tactical skill set within private investigative services. Today computer expertise is part of the necessary knowledge base in crafting an investigative strategy. For example, if a client thinks they are being "bugged" at home or work you would be remiss if all you did was "sweep" the office for listening devices. Today's investigator should have an understanding of spyware and sniffer technologies to even decide how to approach that type of engagement.

Another major change is brought about by the legal and practical limitations on government investigations. While the government has tremendous technological resources and expertise, those resources cannot be brought to bear in every investigation. And, putting technological prowess aside, the government is often restricted in what it is allowed to possess or view.

For example, a recent court case in the Ninth circuit limited the government's ability to examine a single computer device seized under search warrant because of the intermingled information contained within that device. In other words, the government agents may have had legitimate rights to see some of the contents in a given device, but maybe not all of it. In those situations, a safe way to proceed and honor the valid interests of government and the valid interests of private parties, is to have a carefully structured procedural protocol executed by competent private investigators, complete with an audit trail. Those services will increasingly be provided by the private sector in my opinion.

Richard Power, The Digital Trail of the Maltese Falcon - Private Investigations in the Information Age, CSO Magazine, 1-5-10