Discovering hidden data in an investigation

The nature of data storage device evolution requires rethinking many aspects of security such as data concealment, law enforcement searching, parental controls/monitoring, and academic testing. The size and form factor of data storage devices is virtually unlimited, so security professionals need to eliminate specific recognizable objects as a means to detect data storage. In my opinion data locations need to be determined by following the flow of data back to the source, instead of trying to identify the source initially.

Forensic analysis of the main PC or laptop to track file transfer history is the first step. However, removable drives of unknown appearance makes it harder to find them even if their existence is discovered.

Making this process more difficult is the increase in cloud-based storage (and even cloud processing), where the storage and use of data is performed using a remote service. Barracuda and Carbonite are the most commonly known by the public, but hundreds of online storage venues exist. An app popular on iPhones and iPads is Dropbox, where a user can syncronize and store files online for use anywhere.

Again, the best investigative strategy is to look for activity first, and then use that to point towards possible data sources. As the presentation described, there is no way to search every possible physical location for data in advance when it can be located in a keychain or stylized thumbdrive.

Financial investigative techniques are applicable to data investigations. Financial forensics use the process of following the money trail, rather than trying to identify all accounts up front. Data investigations will need to migrate to this approach, following the flow of data to trace all the locations it lands upon. Once the locations (drives, chips, USB’s, gaming devices, online storage, emails, etc.) each of those can then be investigated further to develop other evidence.

Palm Beach private investigator

Investigative services
Background & Character Investigations
Associates, business partners, employees, supervisors, contractors, and potential partners have potential to impact your finances and security. Be aware of the current and past activities of who you are associating with.

Armed Protection
High profile or affluent individuals encounter situations which may warrant bodyguard services. Particular events where your presence is publicly known, or scenarios where the threat level is elevated due to the environment or other factors.

Asset Verification
Confirming the amounts, locating, and vesting of assets for an individual or corporation can help you make accurate decisions on whether to engage with a subject, or plan adversarial legal action. We can match the actual status of assets with statements and representations made to you by others.

Corporate Due Diligence
Prior to entering into financial relationships with a company, financial advisor, investment service, or vendor, gathering corporate intelligence about the entity is valuable. Information concerning the makeup, subsidiaries, financial backing, officers, legal history, and background will increase the security of your relationship, and improve the arrangement you negotiate.

Fraud Investigation
Losses can occur from fraud committed by employees, domestic staff, relationship partners, and advisors. Individuals both close to you and apparently far removed can have enough access to create exposure. If something doesn’t seem quite right on your balance sheet or internal assessment, the source of the fraud can be detected. Recovery is most successful the earlier the fraud is discovered.

Security Assessment
The security of your home, family environment, business, and daily movements can be significantly improved. Identifying and correcting the most severe risk issues will increase the safety and comfort of your daily routine. A secure lifestyle maintains a higher financial condition with fewer expenses and losses to insurance deductibles, theft, injury, and time for other opportunity.

Activity Tracking
You rely on the statements of others to the accuracy of their activity. Knowing the actual locations of spouses, relationship partners, children, business associates, even vendors will improve the confidence of your relationships. Many potential problems can be diverted before they become severe if discovered in the early stages.

David Pelligrinelli
Owner and
Lead Investigator