At Worklogic we conduct workplace investigations into a range of alleged misconduct. Everything from bullying to sexual misconduct, misuse of drugs and fraud. In general, most investigations present the same types of evidence: verbal and documentary. Increasingly though workplace investigations are becoming more complex, and a third type of evidence is coming to the fore—electronic evidence.
The increase in the availability of electronic evidence is not surprising really when you consider 84 per cent of Australian’s own a smartphone and the average Australian home has approximately 14 internet connected devices. That translates to a lot of data being shared and stored. While these statistics represent home usage, the workplace is not immune from the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart devices. If you take a moment to look around your desk, there may be at least four types of devices around you.
Leaving a digital trail of evidence
But what does all of this have to do with workplace investigations and evidence?
The answer is simple: each time we interact with a device, be it to make a telephone call, send and receive a text message, take a photograph or create a document, we leave a digital trail.
It is this digital trail that sometimes can assist in a workplace investigation. The types of digital evidence we generally see are:
- Email records;
- Access records (computer or swipe card);
- Internet usage;
- File usage logs;
- Chat, message and Skype records;
- Telephone usage records; and
- Social media usage.
The list is not exhaustive, and is only dictated by the device used, how the user has interacted with the device, and the type of misconduct you are investigating.
Securing electronic evidence
Electronic evidence is delicate, sometimes easily accessible and if not protected or secured, can be easily lost ,deleted or altered. To help you secure electronic evidence as part of your workplace investigation, here are our top tips:
1. Update your policies
Ensure that your organisation’s policies and employment agreements inform your employees that employer provided computers, smart devices and internet access is monitored, and can be reviewed/accessed for the purposes of ensuring compliance.
2. Secure electronic evidence early
If you need to obtain emails, message logs or internet usage, get your IT team or support service to ‘fence’ (or segregate/secure) the data in the server so that it cannot be deleted, or overwritten.
3. Secure removed devices
If removing work related mobile telephones and other smart devices (iPads/tablet computers) from the employee for the purposes of having it examined, always request the PIN code or password from them. Always put the device into flight mode and switch it off until the examination takes place. Putting the device into flight mode and switching it off prevents remote resetting/deletion of data on the device by the employee. During any examination, do not take the device out of flight mode.
4. Seek comment
Any evidence obtained from examining smart devices or your computer network, which is intended to assist you during a workplace investigation, must be put to the employee for comment.
5. Use a specialist
IT specialists and investigators with a background in mobile telephone forensic examination are trained to handle electronic evidence correctly. By using a specialist, you ensure the integrity of the evidence they collect. In addition, a specialist will provide a report outlining the process they used during the examination and will provide a detailed analysis of the evidence discovered.
If you need help managing electronic evidence, please get in touch!
Pre-order our Workplace Investigations Book!
Worklogic is thrilled to announce that the second edition of our popular Workplace Investigations book will be published by Wolters Kluwer (CCH Australia) in February 2018. The new edition includes new material on fraud and electronic evidence, plus everything you need to know to conduct an effective, procedurally fair workplace investigation.
Pre-order Workplace Investigations now for $90 – and save 15 – 20% when you order two books in the same transaction.
About Jason Clark
Jason Clark is Worklogic’s Associate Director, based in Sydney. Jason has extensive experience as a workplace investigator, investigating a range of issues including fraud, bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct. He has also assisted numerous organisations develop strategies to minimise poor behaviour and encourage a positive workplace culture.
Prior to joining Worklogic, Jason was the Joint Investigation Office Commander for the Australian Defence Force Investigative Service. Acting as mentor and leader, Jason managed a team of investigators in a dynamic environment, handling complex cases. For more advice, please email Jason or give him a call (02) 9152 8706.
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