Stolen Proprietary Information

Background
Six months after firing their lead project manager, a local construction company heard rumors that their former employee was soliciting their two best clients for his new consulting company. The replacement project manager also discovered that several proprietary building plans for their most popular model homes were missing from the former manager’s desktop computer.

Avansic’s Role
The construction company’s attorneys contacted Avansic to investigate the project manager’s computer. A forensic specialist was dispatched to the construction company’s corporate headquarters to make a forensics copy of the computer hard drive.

Once back at the laboratory, an examination was performed on the forensics copy based on a list of keywords provided by the construction company provided. Avansic’s forensics examiners were directed to investigate the edit history and metadata for all of the files in the “My Documents” and “Corporate Documents” folders. Furthermore, the investigators were asked to look for evidence that any of those files had been copied to CD, thumb drive or any other external media.

Avansic’s experts discovered that the former manager had indeed taken proprietary information from the company and had a pattern of misusing company time. The most recent edits to the company’s client list showed that the document was copied to a thumb drive four hours before he was fired: his user profile was logged into the computer during the transfer time. He also deleted all of the documents in the “My Documents” folder and removed them from the recycle bin approximately one hour before leaving the company. On several other occasions during the last month of his employment, he copied the proprietary specifications for the newest model home onto a CD. Moreover, the Avansic investigators discovered that he spent three to five hours every day on the Internet shopping for handguns, ATV accessories and construction job opportunities.

Outcome
Avansic compiled this information into a report and produced the relevant documents to the construction company’s attorneys. The former project manager was charged with theft of proprietary information and was ordered to cease all communications with the company’s clients and return the stolen information.