Leak and Unauthorized Disclosure Investigations

Clients call upon IGI to conduct investigations into leaks or misappropriation of confidential, sensitive private or proprietary information or data, and of trade and commercial secrets. Our work in this practice area spans a number of scenarios. To name several: an employee with a grudge leaks information to the news media or posts it to an anonymous blog; a competitor lures away an employee who brings proprietary data or trade secrets with him; an employee uses or sells potentially market-moving information for stock trading; a hostile outside actor hacks into our client’s computer network and steals data or e-mails to use for a commercial or political end.

IGI uses multiple methods to trace a leak and uncover its source. These can include, as circumstances warrant, classic “canary traps,” textual analysis comparing anonymous writings in question with samples from known suspects, and looking for clues and telltales in the content of the leaked material itself (including who benefits from the leak).

Leak cases combine expert interviews and document review with sophisticated computer forensic analysis of the client’s file and exchange servers as well as devices issued to employees, steps that may be capable of identifying who accessed the information at issue, or forwarded or copied it to a thumb drive, and when such actions were taken, which we compare to building access logs, the timing of the leaks and other data points. If the trail has gone cold or the leaker covered his tracks, we may plant a new “bait” file with tripwires that show us who opened, moved or copied it.

Data breaches present a different set of issues. On a priority basis, our computer security experts determine whether the breach is ongoing, monitor and secure the system, block unauthorized access, and attempt to identify and locate the hackers attempting to penetrate the system. Our team also will assess the extent of the data breach, identify vulnerabilities in network architecture and systems management that the hackers exploited and recommend and implement security systems to prevent a recurrence.

Our investigations are supervised by attorneys who are versed in legal issues that arise in these cases and can provide clients counsel as to the appropriate course of action regarding for example personally identifiable information or sensitive personal information that might have been exposed in a data breach.

  • A prominent international organization retained our attorneys and investigators to conduct an internal investigation after learning that confidential documents and information had been misappropriated and leaked. Our scope of work included determining the extent and circumstances of the breach and conducting a security audit to assist the client in improving its document and IT management systems. In the course of our investigation, we captured and searched terabytes of data from the entity’s file and exchange servers, analyzed financial records and materials published by individuals believed to have received misappropriated documents, and interviewed witnesses. The investigation and audit were supervised by our attorneys, who ensured compliance with legal and client-driven privacy considerations and provided legal counsel to the client through privileged communications and work product while ensuring that privilege was maintained over applicable portions of the investigation. Our deliverables included a comprehensive report and presentation of our findings and recommendations to the organization’s board, which included a factual narrative detailing how certain individuals misappropriated and leaked proprietary documents and information.
  • IGI has worked extensively on cases arising from alleged military contracting fraud in the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including months of work on-the-ground in the Middle East. We have conducted internal investigations into allegations raised by whistleblowers and in other cases have obtained exculpatory evidence in client companies’ criminal defense. In certain criminal defense cases we have developed evidence impugning the credibility of government witnesses, including by demonstrating that witnesses and whistleblowers accusing our client are themselves involved in criminal conduct. We also have assisted military contractors in competitive bids for large contracts by obtaining potentially disqualifying information about rival bidders.