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Chain of Custody Study

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Chain of Custody Study

Regardless of the collection method employed, strict chain of custody records must be maintained for all documents, data, and objects collected so that their authenticity can be assured. Without this assurance the data may not be reliable as evidence in litigation. Every collector, whether a third party vendor, an internal corporate representative or outside counsel representative should document procedures for accepting, storing, and retrieving documents, in the event that he or she may be called upon to testify.

Chain of custody records should be maintained for every "touch" of each item by a search operator. Because the volume of audit history that a large-scale collection project generates can be enormous, selecting tools and processes with automated audit history and the scalability to handle all the audit data is extremely important. Technologies such as Windows Event Logs or Syslog have been proven to scale adequately. Numerous native and third-party solutions exist to parse through, analyze, summarize and report on those types of data logs.

I am in the process of developing a whitepaper regarding "Chain of Custody". As such, I am looking for examples, where:

(1) standard and reasonable Chain of Custody Best Practices were followed and the outcome was as expected (i.e. there were not issues);
(2) standard and reasonable Chain of Custody Best Practices were followed and the outcome was as not as expected (i.e. there were issues);
(3) standard and reasonable Chain of Custody Best Practices were not followed and as a result there were issues.

As part of my investigation, I am looking for written Chain of Custody Best Practices and any onDemand software solutions that have been developed, either home grown or commercially available, to support Chain of Custody.

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