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As Companies Close – What Happens to the Files – Yes that is your social security number sitting there

Mar 26, 20092 mins
Business ContinuityData and Information SecurityIdentity Management Solutions

 As I was walking through a new office space that we are moving into I noticed one empty office was full of paper.  In briefly looking at it, I realized it was confidential client information from a law firm that closed its offices.  I told the broker they should box it up but she didn’t seem to see the issue.  As a lawyer, I can tell you that data is not no longer protected under the attorney client privilege.  How would you like to be their client right now?

Admittedly, it was a bit spooky because the person who left the client files didn’t bother to pick up his wedding photo.  That tells you how quickly businesses are shutting down and leaving.  So what happens to all the data?  I had a case where the bankruptcy court sold off the servers and if I hadn’t been there to address the issues these servers full of clients financial information would be out the door to who knows where – craigslist?

For those less honest, it would be easy start picking up this data and abusing it.  So, my advice?  As part of closing an office clean house.  Be extra careful if your data was in the hands of a company that has gone under.  Because it’s probably floating out there in paper and data form accessible to anyone who wants to take the time to – say pick it up from empty office (maybe grabbing an old wedding photo at the same time).

Kris Haworth is a Managing Director in the FTI Forensic and Litigation Consulting practice and is based in the San Francisco office. She focuses on computer forensics, expert testimony and electronic discovery. Ms. Haworth has more than fifteen years of professional experience in the technology industry and more than ten of years of experience in computer forensics and electronic discovery. She has provided services to Fortune 500 corporations and some of the country's most respected legal firms. She has worked on cases that have established national precedent, including Advante v. Mintel, World Courier v. Baron, In Re Verisign Securities Litigation, Playboy v. Welles and Trigon Ins. Co. v. USA. Her practices have been approved by government agencies including the FBI, FDIC, DOJ, and SEC. She focuses on large-scale electronic evidence production, internal corporate investigations and computer forensics engagements. She frequently assists clients involved in government investigations, HSR merger issues, intellectual property theft, securities investigations, and other types of class action litigation.