Lax enterprise mobile device management hampers e-discovery

Enterprise mobile device management hasn’t kept pace with the proliferation of mobile devices, a shortcoming that can complicate e-discovery.

Consumerization of mobile computing in the enterprise has left most businesses hard-pressed to say exactly what data is stored where. This is a significant information risk management problem, but how does it affect e-discovery?

Kevin Beaver
Kevin Beaver

E-discovery is all about accessing and producing electronic records on demand. Integrity of the data is key, but so is availability. Are the records you’re trying to locate accessible? Can they be produced in the event of a lawsuit or forensic investigation? More than likely, not. In fact, many e-discovery projects involving enterprise data overlook tons of information stored on mobile devices.

Today, most laptops, tablets, smartphones and mobile storage devices house enterprise data -- the very data you’re responsible for producing and storing. Do you know what information is where? You can’t discover -- or produce -- what you don’t acknowledge. Odds are that your e-discovery strategy is outdated and needs an overhaul that takes enterprise mobile device management into consideration.

Enterprise mobile devices often contain a variety of unstructured (i.e. nondatabase) information, including:

  • Emails, both business and personal (including messages that may have been deleted elsewhere).
  • Files such as word processing documents, spreadsheets, PDFs, compressed files and email backups.
  • Web-browsing histories, including stored passwords (especially important if employee computer abuse is a factor, or timeline analysis is required).

Making matters worse is the fact that mobile devices continually come and go. Whether business-issued or personally owned, you likely have little control over these devices. As a result, your enterprise mobile device management strategy might completely overlook this information.

Step back and consider the following:

  • How do mobile devices play into your e-discovery strategy and requirements?
  • Do you know how many mobile computing and storage devices exist in your business?
  • Do you know what data exists on these devices?
  • Would you even know how to go about corralling all of the systems and data in question?

Be honest. Do you truly know what’s where on your mobile systems? At best, this issue is only going to get more complicated. At worst, someone’s going to call you on it in a legal case. Don’t get blind-sided -- get rolling on an enterprise mobile device management strategy today.

Kevin Beaver is an information security consultant and expert witness, as well as a seminar leader and keynote speaker at Atlanta-based Principle Logic LLC. Beaver has authored/co-authored eight books on information security, including The Practical Guide to HIPAA Privacy and Security Compliance and the newly updated Hacking For Dummies, 3rd edition. In addition, he's the creator of the Security On Wheels information security audiobooks and blog.

This was first published in June 2011

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