If you tell enough stories, perhaps the moral will show up.


Investigate That!

When you have to investigate a PC, there's the ideal approach, and the actual approach.

The ideal approach calls in a firm of investigators -- I use Kroll Ontrack as the sucessors to Vogon. They send in an engineer to take forensically sound images, and retain them on their systems until they can schedule an investigation to answer some of the basic questions. Two weeks to get there, and then further rounds of questions and answers ending in a report. Meanwhile you have managers wanting answers.

So there's the actual, otherwise known as DIY. Everyone does this sometimes, so here's a few pointers to protect your arse.

1) Give Babylon Her Due.

If this is one of the cases where the police need to be called, then you must do that. You can't be ordered to conceal it by your boss -- your duty as a subject trumps your duty as an employee. Definitely talk it over with a sane advisor who's familiar with the situation, but if it's ugly then you have to give the cops the option. Don't go mental about this: for certain spyware breaches the Computer Misuse Act, but what are the chances of some random piece of spyware originating from someone subject to the Act?

2) Get it Cleared.

You need a pretty explicit memo from your source of arse covering (your boss, HR) saying that the answers are wanted tomorrow, there is definitely no intention to rely on your investigation in any sworn proceedings, and that your advice to go the ideal route is not wanted or not practical in this case.

3) Take Care Anyway.

When you're half way into a DIY investigation and you realise that you are going to have to complain about the behaviour of an employee, or call the police, you do not want a sinking feeling that you've trampled on the only copy of the evidence. See the next post has basic tips for getting the data you need without booting the evidence disk or writing to it.

4) Keep it Locked Up.

One of the best reasons for working on images is that the record keeping to prove evidence is easy: you can keep the original locked away for long periods. If you're actually working on it, you have to sign it in and out, secure it when you leave your desk.... No fun, and not impressive when you have to swear a long chain on ins and outs, but better than no records kept at all.

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