News International Scandal Sparks Concern about Business E-disclosure processes, New Survey Shows

One in three businesses concerned about litigation processes following phone hacking scandal

Guidance Software, Inc. today released the findings from an independent survey revealing that 38%* of senior IT decision makers are more worried, since the News International phone hacking scandal broke, that they don’t have the right tools in place to respond to a similar litigation and investigation process. These findings come following widespread media coverage of the hacking and the ongoing legal investigations, and reveal that just 17% think that they already have the right tools in place should they be called upon to retrieve data for such a case.

The survey also examines the communications challenges that legal and IT teams face in working together to gather data for internal investigations. Respondents of this survey believe that the biggest challenge for IT departments in carrying out digital investigations is a lack of clear objectives laid down by legal teams, from the outset of a case. 42% of all respondents named this as the biggest obstacle in carrying out an investigation, followed by:

•23% named ‘the legal teams understanding the IT department’s capabilities’
•22% named ‘misunderstandings between legal and technical language’.

The prospect of lengthy investigations was the chief concern for respondents when asked about their concerns of working with external agencies to gather data for a case. Some two in five (39%) of respondents admitted that the ‘time taken’ was their chief concern, compared with 30% which felt that the ‘cost exceeding expectations’ was their biggest worry.

The survey also reveals that 89% of respondents had been called upon to provide electronically stored information (ESI) for either an internal investigation (such as an HR investigation) or external investigation (either compliance or litigation). However, the cost to UK private sector businesses with more than 1,000 employees, of carrying out the process themselves is now significant – with the enterprises surveyed carrying out an average of six investigations a year, at an average 18 man days per case, – at around £45.6 million per year on digital investigations.

Commenting on the results, Frank Coggrave General Manager, EMEA, Guidance said : “It’s telling that widespread news coverage of internal investigations has made a big impression on a significant number of businesses, to the extent that they’re now re- assessing the processes that they have in place to retrieve data. Investigations are now a fact of life for most organisations at some point, be it for HR, fraud, litigation or a data breach or theft so having the right processes and technology in place can go a long way in mitigating damage and disruption.”

He continues: “We have been seeing these trends increase during the normal course of Guidance Software’s cyber security, forensic and e-discovery business, but the Vanson Bourne survey suggests that the issues are more pervasive than many realise. The survey also raises the issue of the communication challenges that can exist between multi-disciplinary teams and points to the need for ongoing dialogue to ensure objectives are achieved. Ultimately, each group is working to achieve a common aim as quickly and efficiently as possible, so legal and IT teams need to establish clear goals and effective lines of communication from early on.”

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