Out-of-the-box ediscovery arrives in Australia with fds

Forensic Digital Services (part of The FDS Group) is ready to roll with its mobile eDiscovery platform, after becoming the first Australian company to deploy AccessData’s eDiscovery technology to assist with data collection and review.

Based on the foundation of AccessData’s Forensic Toolkit (FTK), the solution is a key part of Forensic Digital Services’ discovered@fds service for end-to-end ediscovery for Australian corporate or government clients.

The AccessData eDiscovery product has been integrated into a mobile platform which is able to be deployed on-site at corporate and government networks to acquire data from desktops, servers, many structured data repositories, databases and email.

Matthew Westwood-Hill, director and Principal Computer Forensic Examiner at Forensic Digital Services, said the mobile eDiscovery platform provided a low impact method of conducting an audit and collection of data.

“We just roll into the premise and all we need is a network connection, as our mobile service includes the server software, storage and a Web server so we can control what is happening remotely. The eDiscovery product sends out agents onto a network to provide an indication on how much data will need to be forensically captured depending on how the search criteria are defined by the litigants in a dispute. This allows them to provide an organisation (and the Judge) an estimate of the extent and cost of ediscovery depending on how the search criteria are defined between the two parties,” he said.

In addition to indexed searching, AccessData eDiscovery is able to conduct pre-collection audits, allowing an organisation to know exactly where all relevant data lives, and what it looks like before it is collected. Using this functionality, an organisation that chooses to collect only relevant data can refine its search criteria to ensure the most accurate collection. Even if an organisation prefers to collect entire custodian machines, rather than performing targeted collection, this auditing capability allows it to effectively assess exposure immediately when litigation is anticipated.

It includes integrated litigation hold capabilities, and thus is able to address an ediscovery matter from the onset of litigation all the way to producing load files, native files or forensic archive files for review.

“ediscovery has always been a very costly process because there was no alternative to gaining an image of every disk on every server & laptop/desktop, and hosting that huge amount of data on a review platform like Ringtail or CT Summation, where 90% of the data may be irrelevant,” said Westwood-Hill.

“We don’t need to collect every megabyte of data. With AccessData eDiscovery we can tell a client how much data they will need to collect depending on the search criteria they nominate and then obtain it in a forensically sound manner.”

“It also offers the ability to notify users when they are included in a collection. If it finds relevant data on a user’s laptop, it will notify them. Then even if they unplug from the network it will continue collecting data next time they are connected.”

The AccessData product also offers hosting & review, although FDS has also developed its own in-house platform for hosting and review using PHP on an SQL database, with an interface that is able to be customised depending on client preferences. Either is able to export in any of the popular formats such as Ringtail, Concordance or CT Summation when it comes time to hand over the data to the other party.

A recent update to the AccessData eDiscovery tool has added integrated optical character recognition (OCR) capabilities. Litigation support personnel are thus able to index and search the text found in image files, such as PDFs and TIFFs, greatly enhancing their early case assessment capabilities and their ability to identify potentially relevant electronically stored information (ESI). Traditionally, an organisation would have to use an external service provider, separate OCR tool or typically wait until later stages of the eDiscovery process to extract text from image files.

Pictured: Computer forensic examiners Ben Goodwin (rear), Matthew Westwood-Hill and Brendan Hill with the mobile kit containing AccessData’s new eDiscovery tool, newly available in the Australian market from Forensic Digital Services, that can collect data from PCs, email servers, network shares and structured data repositories, then index it, including image files such as PDFs and TIFFs.