The universal implementation of electronic medical records (EMRs) has become the single most important piece of evidence used in medical malpractice litigation. In response to an EMR Discovery request, healthcare providers use various filters to create useless or hard to read data. Hire an expert to help you weed through the audit trail and to present Discovery requests relevant to the case.
Healthcare providers use filters to withhold electronic medical data when complying with a court order and producing EMR audit trails. During the discovery period, EMR audit trails are commonly used as the single most important piece of evidence in medical malpractice litigation. Knowing evidence is in the details, has led to a chess game of filters proving “Not all electronic medical records (EMRs) productions are created equal!” Figuring out how electronic medical records (EMRs) are filtered is a game changer!
Follow the filters!
When counsel requests a patient’s electronic medical records (EMRs) to review for evidence, the production is often delivered in non-electronic limited formats, such as; scan documents, PDF, or image files. Filters provide limited format productions of (EMRs) therefore it becomes extremely difficult to read and find evidence. Are hospitals and healthcare facilities doing this on purpose? Are they filtering their production to include irrelevant information with very little details about the event in question? They are not making it easy that’s for sure. In truth, they are complying with the court order and producing files that include the electronic health records of the plaintiff. They’re just not providing data information in its completeness. Using filters to produce audit trails is fairly common, but for the injured party and representing counsel these tactics are extremely excruciating. Requesting electronic medical records (EMR’s) is now a challenging game of filtering chess!
Forensic Experts know how to request data essential to your case.
It is quite common that hospitals and healthcare facilities use a variety of filters that will result in an incomplete production. When forensic experts study the production headers they uncover filters that were used to produce an incomplete EMR audit trail. Experts know how to ask for relevant data and dig deeper to find evidence.
Filters, Filters, and More Filters!
Date filters that are applied could exclude alteration of records after the event took place. We suggest the best practice is to use the earliest known date prior to the medical event as a starting point and place the end date the same as the current date of the request. Pushing the end date to reflect the current date will show who looked at the record post-event.
Department filters will only return records that are from one particular department, such as radiology or another department.
Employee filters include specific employees of the healthcare facility. If an EMR record only shows entries related to a physician’s user IDs this can be problematic. It’s important to know all of the names and user IDs of all healthcare providers that visited the patient.
Workstation filters are specific to desktops and/or workstations and could be the cause of incomplete production.
Location filters are used by healthcare providers to limit the full scope of production. It is not uncommon for physicians to access important medical records remotely. This could cause manipulation of data by remote access and filter out data after the event in question.
Enigma Forensics has years of experience developing requests for electronic medical records (EMRs). Our experts know how to ask the right question to retrieve the necessary data to be used as evidence. Save yourself time and expense and hire an expert! Our experts are CISSP certified (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) that provide testimony as a professional witness in a court of law.
Please call Enigma Forensics at 312-669-0333 for a complimentary consultation.
Have you or someone you know been involved in medical injury or accident? Do you want to win your case? Or…If you’re an attorney and have questions about a case involving medical malpractice, read this blog and contact Enigma Forensics for the “W”.
Were you or a loved one involved in a medical accident or injury? Are you an attorney who is representing an injured client?
If the answer is yes, take immediate action and file a Discovery request or subpoena to access all of your Electronic Medical Records (EMR). Why is this important? In order to prove injury or malpractice and win your case it’s imperative to discover what took place and the actions that caused an event. Your electronic medical records or EMR audit trail will document what transpired. EMR audit trails will include prescriptions, tests, treatments, transfers, operation notes, nurse practitioners and doctors notes and a ton more. Electronic Health Records (EHR) are rich with data information describing the care that was provided and decisions that were made good or bad. Some medical record systems such as Epic have sticky notes that are traditionally not part of the formal patient permanent electronic record. Those sticky notes are required to be stored by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), but are not part of the discharge report showing the patient electronic medical record history. The data does exist and working with a qualified medical record forensic expert can help you to gain a more complete record of the patient encounter with the health care provider.
What else does Electronic Medical Records (EMR) include?
Electronic Medical Records and the patient medical record audit trail include the original record and will note any modifications. It will also preserve dates, times, who accessed the record and whether the record was printed, viewed, deleted or otherwise modified. Many of the systems today, such as; Epic, Cerner, Meditech, All Scripts and others have reports that can be downloaded to reveal vital information about who has authorization to access and audit electronic health records.
Medical dictations are another vital piece to the puzzle. Dictation files are sometimes sent to third party transcription service providers as raw audio files called WAV files. After the WAV files are received they are typically transcribed to text files and fed back into the electronic health record software system. When modification of the patient medical record occurs after an injury or malpractice took place, comparing the transcription WAV files to the produced chart may help reveal alteration to the patient medical records.
Patient Electronic Medical Charts are often Incomplete. You could lose your case!
When electronic medical record discovery requests are made by plaintiffs to healthcare providers, it is common that the production lacks the complete patient medical record history. Healthcare providers facing litigation commonly provide a minimal amount of data in an often useless format. The form of production is often scanned copies of previously printed our documents or charts. Codewords for health care providers, departments and procedures often make interpretation even more challenging. Having an experience EMR computer forensics expert can help provide a more accurate interpretation of the complete Electronic Health Record (EHR) for the harmed patient.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA is a federal law which requires your medical records to be retained for six years at a federal level. However, most states also have their own medical retention laws which can be more stringent than HIPAA stipulates. Check out this government website to learn about how different states interpret this governance. https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/privacy/index.html
How important are faxes? This could win your case!
In some cases, Electronic Medical Records (EMR) are faxed to outside providers either to or from your primary physician. Software vendors such as Forward Advantage provide automated faxing capabilities integrating with the existing health care information management systems and patient medical records. It’s vital you request all communication between facilities to help prove or disprove what and when medical knowledge was presented to the provider to make an informative decision relatable to an event.
Let’s say you have already requested an EMR audit trail for a patient. Did you know that the Electronic Medical Records (EMR) audit trail you received contains cryptic codes that you will not be able to comprehend. It’s extremely helpful to request all of the underlying data dictionaries that will provide the definition of the codes used referring to the friendly name, including, the healthcare provider’s name, department, computer used to access the EMR, procedures, treatments, tests ordered, drugs prescribed and lab results.
Did you know that medical data is required to be retained for six years?
Do you want to to win your case! You need Enigma Forensics experts on your team! Hire a professional forensic expert to assist in writing a Discovery request to obtain, preserve and analyze ALL of the electronic medical records and to help you obtain the complete EMR audit trail. We can help uncover the truth of what took place and help tell the court the story about what happened to you or your client.
Call Enigma Forensics at 312-668-0333 to schedule a complimentary phone call to discovery how we can assist.
Enigma Forensics experts investigate, preserve and recovery data to prove or disprove Trade Secret Theft. We have assisted many clients in financially recovering what was stolen from them or to help clear their name. Are you interested in learning more about trade secret theft? Check out Tesla’s latest law suit against a former software engineer.
A large portion of our business is forensically recovering and preserving data that is vital in proving or disproving trade secret theft. Enigma Forensics experts love to follow Tesla! We love the look of their beautifully engineered electric cars and we’re very interested in Elon Musk, the controversial character behind the engineering. Who is now labeled the most wealthiest man in the world. Our interest was piqued when we heard about Tesla’s latest lawsuit and that prompted us to write this blog.
On January 22, Tesla filed a lawsuit against Alex Khatilov, a former software engineer over Trade Secret Theft and Breach of Contract. Tesla contends that within days after Khatilov started his position on December 28, 2019, he began stealing thousands of highly confidential software files from Tesla’s secured internal network, transferring them to his personal cloud storage account on Dropbox to which Tesla has no access or visibility.
How did Tesla discover this trade secret theft or misappropriation of data?
On January 6, Tesla’s information security personnel detected Khatilov’s unauthorized download of a complete set of all the automation scripts produce by the Quality Assurance Engineering team for WARP Drive over the last twelve years! He was confronted the next day via Microsoft video chat due to Khatilov working remotely because of COVID-19 restrictions. Khatilov claims he installed a Dropbox desktop application to his Tesla issued laptop to allow him to upload administrative files to his personal Dropbox. He swore over and over that he only transferred administrative documents and then when he finally shared his screen with Tesla investigators he could be seen deleting the Dropbox files while on video chat confirming he had willfully destroyed evidence.
Why all the fuss?
How important are these scripts? These scrips are unique to Tesla and run on WARP Drive, the backend software for much of Tesla’s business. These files consisted of “scripts” of proprietary software code that Tesla has spent years of engineering time to build. When executed, these scripts automate a broad range of functions throughout Tesla’s business and only a few select employees have access to these files. It gets better! This is the good part…Khatilov contends he forgot about downloading thousands of confidential files!
The reality of this trade secret theft or misappropriation of confidential data is that Tesla has no way of knowing whether Khatilov copied the scripts onto a thumb drive, a mobile device, or a cloud based storage or most importantly sent them to another individual. To understand more thoroughly how important these “scripts” or trade secrets are…They map out Tesla’s innovations! Making them extremely valuable and beneficial to any competitor.
What measures ensure against trade secret theft or misappropriation?
Tesla limited the “scripts” access to only members of the Quality Assurance Engineering team in which Khatilov was one of forty employees to have access. The engineers that have access are not permitted to download scripts to the cloud or personal devices. This makes us wonder how Khatilov was able to download data!
Only eight people within the Tesla company are approved to grant access to these scripts.
Each engineer signs an extensive employment agreement and agrees to policy conditions of their employment with includes a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), that holds each employee to the strictest confidence of proprietary information, technical data, trade secrets so on and so forth.
The NDA also states that upon termination or departure each employee will immediately return to the company all original document electronic or hard copies.
Each physical facility has restricted access to only authorized personnel that are monitored by security guards and cameras.
All visitors must check in with security, sign a NDA, submit to a photograph and be escorted by an employee.
Tesla also used password-protected and firewall-protected networks and servers that are only accessible to current Tesla employee with the proper credentials.
Moral of this story is…
Even high level technology companies has issues with trade secret theft. If your company suspects something like this, immediately hire a computer forensics expert to electronically preserve data of soon to be departing or a departed employee that has already left the company. Enigma Forensics can analyze data that was misappropriated or stolen to help clients recover financial loss.
Enigma Forensics offers step by step advice on what to do if you cell phone has been lost or stolen.
Enigma Forensics has recently received many calls regarding lost or stolen cell phones. So we put together 7 easy steps on what to do. You may have been involved in a crime where someone stole your phone or you could have lost or misplaced your phone. Either way, you know the feeling, it’s a sinking panic in the pit of your stomach. There’s no doubt it can be devastating! Here are some easy steps you can take to avoid this monumental headache. First a foremost DON’T PANIC. Take a deep breath and think logically through these steps.
Step 1 – You’ve discovered your cell phone has been lost or stolen – ask a friend or someone close to use their phone to call your number. If that doesn’t work try to locate your phone on another device that is connected to your Mobile App. Then text your phone. If it’s lost someone might be a good samaritan and want to return the phone. If you were involved in a crime contact the police department and file a report.
Step 2 – Check out your Mobile App or your phone’s native “find my phone” feature. If you have other devices in your home, log on, and try to use the locator.
Step 3 – Call your cell phone provider to inform them of a lost or stolen phone. They can assist you in what actions you need to take next. If you have insurance on your phone you will be able to replace it with minimal cost.
Step 4 – If you have any banking, or other important financial Apps on your phone contact them immediately to let them know your predicament. Most banks allow you to pause your financial cards while you locate your phone. Notify the credit reporting agencies to put a freeze on new accounts being opened in your name.
Step 5 – Always back up your cell phone. We know, this is easier said than done! You can make it easy on yourself if you schedule a calendar date and set a reminder.
Step 6 – If you lock your phone and rotate your passwords this could help avoid most of the headaches involved.
Step 7 – Have your cell phone carrier revoke your old SIM card to prevent any outside party from texting your contacts from your cell phone or another cell phone they may use with your SIM card.
Finally, keep calm and face each step with determination to resolve the matter.
EMR or EHR are synonymous. Both are medical records. The electronic medical records or EMR reveal an audit trail of what transpired during a medical or health visit. Each record is unique and tells a story about the patient. We are experts that can assist you to win your case!
Electronic data records are taking the place of the old school hard copy files and completely revolutionizing the way data is gathered and stored. Electronic Health Records (EHR) or Electronic Medical Records (EMR) are synonymous with each other. (EHR) is data that includes the patient’s vital information such as an address, medical history, allergies, immunizations, lab tests results, radiology images, and vital signs, also, personal statistics like age, weight, sexual orientation, and insurance information. (EMR) is an individual’s private health data that is stored in a protected database only accessible to medical personnel in compliance with The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations. EHR’s or EMR’s make patient charting easier and results in fewer errors and keeps this delicate personal information private and secure.
Medical data can be manipulated!
Medical data can be altered and inserted into EMR systems and made to look like it was there all the time or not there at all. Medical malpractice lawyers rely on EMR audit trails to tell the story of either side of a case; the plaintiff or the defendant. Medical records are marked by metadata or raw data. This data is developed separately from the EMR system making manipulation detection visible by reviewing the raw data and the database logs. Metadata can also be described as underlying data, like a digital footprint that creates an audit trail. In order to analyze raw data, you will need to hire Enigma Forensics; we are experts in the field of electronic medical records (EMR) or (EHR).
During a forensic review of EHR’s or EMR’s, we can authenticate or reveal backdating, back charting, data editing, or falsification of records. We have been on both sides of medical malpractice cases and almost always save our client a considerable sum of money. We work closely with the attorneys involved to help with eDiscovery verbiage and assist with what to look for.
Was the COVID-19 Pandemic a wake up call for those businesses who are dependant on the world’s supply chain? Let’s face it everyone is dependent in one way or another on the world’s supply chain. But do we really understand what’s going on? Check out this video blog as experts take a look at the supply chain and the impact of COVID-19.
What’s going on with the world’s supply chain?
Enigma Forensics is wondering about the impact the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic has had on the world’s supply chain. Lee Neubecker sits down (virtually) with Geary Sikich from Logical Management Systems. Both agree the spread of Coronavirus/COVID-19 has been a wake-up call for the world.
First of all, we think it’s safe to say everyone is feeling the impact of COVID-19! It has been devastating for every human being on the planet. What have we learned? Supply chains that carry life-saving products were pinched off and that presented a huge shortage sending the medical professionals and government agencies scrambling to provide much-needed protective medical supplies. Many businesses are dependent on global sourcing and have now found themselves facing hard choices amid the supply chain disruptions.
Both Lee and Geary, agree shipping is an under-reported issue that has been negatively impacted by COVID-19. We all know the story of stranded cruise ships that were quarantined at sea and as a result cruise ships became super-spreaders of the virus. But, what about the shipping industry? Specifically, cargo, oil tankers, and container ships. We know these types of goods transports have limited crews, to begin with, and now we have learned that some of these ships have been quarantined at sea. If they make it into port they are quarantined based on the fact the products they are transporting could possibly be infected. Check out this video to learn more about the COVID-19 impact on the supply chain.
Was COVID-19 pandemic a wake up call?
Lee Neubecker (LN): I am here today with who is that? Geary Sikich, you wore your mask.
Geary Sikich (GS): Yes I’ve been completely protected with this mask.
LN: Is that comfortable?
GS: No, it’s hot and it is made out of rubber. So it’s to kind of a, not the greatest mask in the world if you choose to wear one but it’s good for comedy and it’s almost Halloween so.
LN: So how much did that set you back?
GS: $10 on Amazon
LN: Now how’s the breathability of that thing?
GS: Actually the breathability is pretty good. It actually is pretty good. Then, the biggest issue you face with it is just that you’re going to have body heat kind of contained. If you don’t wear it for a long period of time or you don’t have headphones on you should be okay.
LN: So I had you on the show today. I wanted to ask you some questions about what impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on our trade environment with imports and exports.
GS: So in general, as the pandemic started to evolve, we saw the impact in a number of different areas. There was a lot of impact on the cessation of imports by countries China, for example, ceased and used force measures to stop oil shipments from coming in. The US has had a big backlog on all their ports, because of concern over making sure that what’s coming into the country is not tainted. The bigger impact and this was one that really is kind of been under-reported if you will, has been that the shipping industry., now take cruise lines out of it ’cause they got a tremendous amount of media coverage with cases there. But what we have is a real issue with shipping, the ships that are container ships, bulk ships, cargo ships of all types, including your large oil carriers. There is a limitation of people who serve on those ships, crews. There’s been a lot of crews that because of Coronavirus/COVID-19 infection on a ship have been quarantined out at sea. And so we’re seeing ships being taken off usage because they’re sitting being quarantined. We’re seeing so a disruption in the supply chain because of a key component of the supply chain, not related to the end products or the originating product.
LN: So all the just in time delivery and assembly is really a parenting problem we say can’t rely on the GPS and calculated travel time.
GS: And actually there’s been another issue that’s come up with, with the systems on ships because of cybersecurity obviously, and in a general way, but they’ve had a tremendous impact in those areas because of that. So shipping has been hit majorly as has air transport because airlines have cut back so tremendously on flights.
LN: All right so in terms of some of the supply chain security programs they have out there, what are you seeing that companies are doing to protect their supply chain implementing these programs?
GS: A lot of what I see right now is that companies are trying to find alternative suppliers so that they can have a broader base of supply chain. So from where we were single-source supply, we’re now looking at moving towards multiple source supply so that they can continually keep a feed of supply coming in.
LN: Yeah because I’d imagine if certain regions experienced the COVID-19 outbreak more, that would disrupt the supply either going to or coming from that region.
GS: Yeah, and you think about things like border closures, you think about things like the inspection process, the concern over whether or not there is going to be contamination coming in in a cargo container you know, may have.
LN: Are they having, in some cases are they having the ships quarantined when they arrive?
GS: In a lot of cases
LN: Before they are unloaded?
GS: Yeah and that impacts tremendously because you got to take a look at the shipping industry and the cargo shipping. They have gone from smaller cargo ships to mega cargo ships. And these mega cargo ships can have, you know, a lot of containers, hundreds of containers if not more. And the problem is when you lock in a ship like that, your shipment may be one of many that gets stuck. And when you take that size ship out of service you can’t replace it very quickly because what happens in the industry is very simple. They’ve gone to larger ships to carry greater amounts. So economy of scale, and they’ve taken the smaller ships and as is now the case with the cruise industry they’re in yards in India and various other countries and shipbreaking yards. So they’re completely being taken apart and they’re no longer part of the service of shipping that’s out there. Now so replenishment of the container, the vessel, is going to have an impact. And if you take one out, you don’t have an easy replacement for it.
LN: Geary well, thanks a bunch for being on the show. I really appreciate it.
GS: Thank you Lee I appreciate your time.
To Learn More About Logistical Management Check out this website
Do you have concerns about voting in person? Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough urges everyone to vote early or by mail. Make a plan and plan your vote. It’s easy peasy!
Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough sits down with Lee Neubecker, President of Enigma Forensics to discuss the do’s and don’ts of early voting in the Cook County election and how to receive your mail-in ballot.
Early voting begins on October 19.
Lee Neubecker (LN): Hi, so I’m here again today with Karen Yarbrough, the Cook County Clerk, and we’re talking about the election that’s coming up. And today’s topic is specifically about early voting. Karen, thanks for being here.
Clerk Karen Yarbrough (CY): It’s always a pleasure, Lee.
LN: We’re actually seated roughly 12 feet apart from each other, practicing social distancing.
CY: Yes we are.
LN: And we can actually look at each other while we talk, which is nice.
CY: Yes we can.
LN: So tell us a little bit more about why people should consider early voting this election.
CY: You know Lee, I used to always pride myself in voting on election day. There’s something exciting about voting on election day. The camaraderie, seeing people you don’t see, you know, particularly every day. However, I got used to voting by mail because it’s convenient. And so people should, with this particular election, they need to make a plan and then plan their vote. I’ve already made that plan. And I plan to, I’ve already requested my ballot. I expect it in the mail any day now. And I plan to review my choices and I plan to drop it in a dropbox.
LN: Great. So when can you vote early in Cook County and the city of Chicago?
CY: So in Cook County, you can early vote on the 19th of October. There are some dates, October 7th, I believe for somebody who’s not registered to vote, they can actually register and vote on the 7th of October. In the city of Chicago, they will be starting that process on October first.
LN: So is there a website that people can go to if they want to get a–
Where to find more voting information
CY: I’m glad you asked Lee. All the information that you’ll ever want to know is at cookcountyclerk.com. Everything is there. Go to that website, click on elections, and you’ll see an array of information there that can answer each and every question that you ever have for elections for this particular election.
LN: And I know that the last election cycle that you told me about that, I actually did it. It only took less than, it was about a minute time–
CY: If it takes that long.
LN: And the ballot came and it was easy. What was nice is I had time to look up the different races. I could use my computer, I could do my research and be thoughtful with access to more than my smartphone. So I could actually read things while I was voting. So it was a nice experience.
CY: Easy peasy, that’s what I say. And, you know, you can give some time to actually looking at your selections. You can go online and research the candidates and make good solid choices.
LN: Yeah, and just so you know, my daughter voted for the first time in this election and we took her to early voting in person. And I asked could I early vote instead because I was there and he said I could but it would be a provisional ballot that wouldn’t get counted until later. So I thought that it seemed, at least, there was a check and balance. Your team knew that I had already requested a mail-in ballot and they had that checkup. But if I wanted to vote in person, I could have, you know, so like, if I lost my ballot, I could still vote. It’s just the provisional ballots don’t get counted until later.
CY: Yeah, and We want people to understand that process too because I’m suggesting to people to go ahead and order a ballot, go ahead, fill out the application. Like you said, it only takes a minute or so to do that. When your ballot comes, make a determination at that point do I plan to, you know, fill this out and mail it in or do I plan to drop it in our dropbox? Or do I plan to maybe do like some others who have suggested to me that they planned the, planned doing that would be their backup plan, just in case they can’t get to the polling place on election day. So I’m encouraging anybody and everybody to please, you know, order your ballot, get your ballot, do your research and obviously vote.
LN: So you can actually take your mail-in ballot and if you’re concerned that it’s going to be held up at the post office, you can drop by any polling place?
CY: We have, right now, over 60 early voting sites. And so if you’ve gotten your ballot and you want to drop it off at a dropbox, you can do that. You do not have to stand in line and we’ll have one of our election workers standing right there.
LN: So outside there’s actually–
Drop Boxes for Mail-In Ballots
CY: Inside, inside there will be a box that you can put your ballot in and there’ll be somebody right in front of that. You will not have to stand in line.
LN: Okay, so what if someone lives outside of Cook County?
CY: Somebody who lives outside of Cook County, you mean that maybe somebody in the military. That’s what absentee voting is all about. And you know, we’ve been doing that since the Civil War. Complete your ballot, send in for your ballot, complete your ballot and mail it in.
LN: Do you have any concerns about people voting more than the once?
CY: We do not because we put a number of things in place to make sure that kind of thing does not happen. One thing, we have election judges that, you know, they’re sworn in and they review every single signature. You know, you have to sign, so they will do that. Each person has a identification number, okay, that’s only germane to you. So that way we know it’s you. So if Mickey Mouse shows up, Mickey Mouse is not going to be able to vote because Mickey Mouse does not have this voter code that we have. Finally, you know, we have a, we’ve just gone through every idea and had people to kind of test, to make sure that we are ready for the November election to make sure that people, you know, do the right thing. And that’s what we’re telling them to do. Do the right thing. At the end of the day, too, we also do, we check out 5% of the ballots to make sure, you know, after the election, that they’re right on target.
LN: And so finally, when is the last time, the last date that you can request, that you can actually go in and vote early?
CY: The last time that you can go in and vote early actually is November 3rd which is election day, okay, They can vote that day, but the day before. So that would be November 2nd. Don’t wait and do it then. Do it early.
LN: Well, thanks a bunch for being on the show. I look forward to talking to you again soon.
Phishing, Ransomware, Endpoint Security, IoT Devices and Cloud Jacking. What do they have in common? Top Five Cyber Attacks we are concerned about and you should be too!
The frequency of cyberattacks is growing. The following is Enigma Forensics’ top five cyber attacks that you should be made aware of.
Phishing Attacks are specific forms of email or text messages that are targeting victims to gain access to their personal information. Phishing messages often try to induce the receiver to click a link to a package shipment delivery message or other seemingly legitimate hyperlinks. It acts like a harmless or subtle email designed to get victims to supply login credentials that often become harvested by the attacker for later use in efforts to compromise their target. Sometimes phishing emails spoof the sender to be someone who has already been compromised. Once compromised, often times the compromised user’s mailbox is used to relay other outbound messages to known individuals in their saved contacts. This form of attack earned its name because it masquerades as an email of someone you may know and because you know the sender, you are more likely to nonchalantly open the email and click on the attachment to learn more about the content. With a click of a mouse, BOOM you can be compromised. This is a very easy and effective scam for cybercriminals. Warning: Do not open attachments or forward chain emails!
Ransomware is often spread through phishing emails that contain malicious attachments or through drive-by downloading. Drive-by downloading occurs when a user unknowingly visits an infected website and then malware is downloaded and installed without the user’s knowledge. The cybercriminal then holds the stolen information for ransom, thus the name! They may ask for a ransom payment in the form of digital currency such as bitcoin. Whether or not the victim pays the ransom depends on what information they have stolen or what criminals have threatened to do with the stolen information. Warning: Do not visit unsecured sites!
Remote Worker Endpoint Cyber attacks are currently the most popular because of the number of employees working from home caused by the Coronavirus. In the month of March, many workers were sent scurrying to their homes without companies placing proper cyber protection protocols. Employees are using their personal devices to conduct work and often are not fully patched, updated, and using encryption to protect their home devices against cybercriminals. Many company executives have been targeted at their homes, where they are much less likely to have commercial-grade firewalls designed to protect endpoints and company trade secrets.
IoT Devices attacks are a popular vehicle used by cybercriminals to establish a beachhead for launching lateral attacks across a home or work network. IoT devices involve extending internet connectivity beyond standard devices, such as desktops, laptops, smartphones, and tablets, to any range of traditionally dumb or non-internet-enabled physical devices and everyday objects. Embedded with technology, these devices can communicate and interact over the internet. They can also be remotely monitored and controlled. IoT Devices should be segmented and on a different network than corporate work from home devices. IoT devices pose a great threat because many of these devices lack automatic update processes and can become a beachhead for cybercriminal attacks in your home.
Cloud Jacking will increase with an estimated growth of cloud computing to be a $266.4 billion dollar industry in 2020. The idea of cloud storage makes one believe it is an improved option rather than the traditional on-premise computing storage. This will and has become a major security concern and has created a strong urgency to increase the creation of cloud security measures. Cybercriminals will up their game and cloud jack data information whenever possible. The race in on to see who does it cloud security better; the good guys or the bad guys. To protect against Cloud Jacking cyber attacks, organizations should enable two-factor authentication options, such as Google authenticator.
Two-factor authentication requires two of the three following means of authentication:
Something you know (A password)
Something you have (A key fob or cell phone authenticator)
Something you are (Retina Scan, Facial recognition, fingerprint)
Are Contact Tracing APPs ethical? Are you willing to give up your private data to help slow the spread of the Coronavirus? Check out what these experts have to say!
Apple and Google have the capability that allows cell phones to communicate with each other. Contact Tracing Apps use this capability and have been developed to find and alert the contacts of people infected with the Coronavirus / COVID-19. As soon as someone gets sick with Coronavirus, the APP could alert you if this is someone you have been in contact with. Alleviating the length of time it takes for a real live Contact Tracer who is doing the tracing. Basically, this is widespread human GPS tracking, that presents many privacy issues involving potential data breach, information storage, and sharing sensitive personal data. Should sensitive medical information and individual locations be available on an APP? Do you believe this type of electronic contact tracing is ethical?
Check out this video to listen in on experts as they consider the amount of data that is being collected and what it means for your data when you download a Contact Tracing APP.
Video Transcripts Follow
Lee Neubecker (LN): Hi this is Lee Neubecker from Enigma Forensics and I have Debbie Reynolds back on the show, thanks for coming back Debbie.
Debbie Reynolds (DR): Thank you for having me, very nice to be here.
LN: So I’m very interested to hear more of what your research is regarding contact tracing apps, and what you think that means for individuals that might put these apps in their phone. Tell me a little bit about what’s happening right now with the industry and how contact tracing apps are working.
DR: Yeah, so Apple and Google created a capability so that phones can communicate with each-other via beacon. So that they can store information on phones, or have phones bounce off of one another, so that if someone downloads a contact tracing app or registers there, if anyone who also has the app, it will be able to trace back, y’know, how long they spent with certain people and tell them whether they feel like they may have been exposed in some way, and tell them either to quarantine or go seek treatment in some way, or get tested. So it’s pretty controversial, the contact tracing app, for a couple of different reasons. One is, people are very concerned about privacy, like giving their potential medical information to a company that’s not a medical provider, meaning that they’re not protecting the data the same way. Also, as you know, Bluetooth technology isn’t exactly super accurate in terms of the distance that you are from someone, so the delta, in terms of how accurate it can be, may be way off. It may be several meters off, the phone can’t tell if you’re six feet apart or whatever, so I think that they’ve tried to tune that up with this new API that they created, but still, based on the science, we don’t know that it’s actually accurate or not.
LN: So you could still have a situation where, if you put one of these apps on and you’re outside biking, and you bike within 8 to 10 feet of someone who later does have it that you’re getting notified that you have to quarantine on a false basis. That’s a potential outcome of using an app like that, correct?
DR: Yeah, but I think that the way they having it now is that it’s supposed to register you spent more than 15 minutes near that person, so, y’know.
LN: Okay, that’s good to know.
DR: But let’s say you’re parked in your car and someone’s parked next to your car, so you aren’t physically near, y’know, you aren’t in any danger from that person but you wouldn’t know, just because your phone says you’re close to them. They don’t understand the circumstance that you’re in, to be able to tell that, so. I think people are concerned about, a lot about privacy, them taking the data or how the app is actually going to work, and it’s going to work differently in different countries. So what they’ve done is create this API, this capability that’s put on everyone’s phone, and then if you download the app, the app which you use will use that API to actually do this beacon exchange on people’s phones. So, that’s kind of what’s happening right now, is different countries and different places are implementing it in different ways, and some are really pushing back on them because they don’t have really any good guarantees about privacy, or data breach, data breach is a huge issue.
LN: Yeah, I mean, our Government’s never had data in their custody compromised ever, right? wink..wink
DR: Right, that never happened, exactly, so-
LN: You’re having your maps of where you’re walking, your GPS records-
LN:time of day, your movement and that is going to Google and Apple, and under certain conditions they’re passing that data on to the CDC or other entities, law enforcement, enforcement groups.
DR: Well their concern is that data, because it’s at a private company, will get merged with other things, like let’s say your insurance carrier, or your medical, y’know, you get dropped from your insurance because you have this app-
LN: You drive too fast.
DR: No because you have this app, and they think that you may have been exposed, or you’re a higher risk, or a bank doesn’t want to give you a loan or something, because you have this app on your phone. I’ve been hearing a lot of different scenarios people are concerned about. But I’m curious, from your perspective, in terms of how certain things are stored on phones. I know beacons is a really big idea, but maybe you can explain a little bit about how Bluetooth actually works?
LN: Yeah, well Bluetooth is a near band wavelength that allows for peer-to-peer networking. Bluetooth has been exploited in the past to be able to take over devices, so it’s, a lot of people don’t like to have their Bluetooth on continuously because you’re opening your phone up to potential attacks, cyber attacks, via Bluetooth. You’re also broadcasting, when you have Bluetooth on you’re also broadcasting your MAC address identifier, your Bluetooth unique address and there have already been issues where retailers in London at one time, they had kiosks outside that would track the shoppers and they’d know how long they were at certain stores, and they’d use that information to serve custom video ads to people as they’re shopping and walking by.
LN: So there’s privacy implications and security implications of having Bluetooth on all the time.
DR: Yeah, and that’s a big concern. So I know when I first heard this, about them doing this contact tracing, I was wondering like how exactly would they get the proximity right, and because we have no visibility to that we really don’t know, right?
DR: So we just have to sort of trust the black box and see what happens, to some extent, but I, for me I think my opinion is that contact tracing is a profession, it’s not an app. So, there are people who do this as a profession, only, let’s see, 55% of people in the world don’t even have smart phones, so you’re talking about a capability that’s only for 45% of the people, and not all those people are going to actually volunteer to get these apps.
DR: So it doesn’t really help to contact, for people who do contact tracing, except it adds another layer that they have to work with because they still have to track people whether they have cell phones or not.
LN: It’s interesting stuff, thanks for bringing that to our viewers’ attention and thanks for being on the show again.
DR: All right, thank you so much, I really appreciate it.
Social media and cell phone forensics can play an important role in thwarting criminal activity. Check out this conversation between Cyber Forensic Expert Lee Neubecker and Data Diva, Debbie Reynolds. You will be so much smarter afterwards!
Snap Chat, Twitter, Facebook: Social Media and the Importance of Cell Phone Forensics
Lee Neubecker and Debbie Reynolds, the Data Diva, discuss the role of law enforcement in capturing social media posts when trying to thwart the bad guys coordinating a riot or the more recent looting incidents in Chicago. During this difficult time in our nation, what is the role that cell phone forensics should take? Did you know that Apple phones have the ability to automatically shut down when stolen and have a beacon that will detect the location of the phone making it easy for law enforcement to come knocking on the thief’s door? Check out this video to learn more about the role of social media and cell phone forensics.
Transcripts of Video Follows
Lee Neubecker (LN): Hi, it’s Lee Neubecker, and I have Debbie Reynolds back on the show, Debbie thanks for being on remotely.
Debbie Reynolds (DR): Thank you for having me.
LN: So I asked you to come on so that we could talk a little bit about some of the recent lootings that have happened in Chicago and other areas across the country. And what could be happening, as it relates to cell phone forensics and how law enforcement can be using that to get to the bottom of how these coordinated attacks are being planned and who might be involved.
DR: Most of what I know about this is basically what you told me so, why don’t you just sort of share what your experience has been so far in the current environment, and then we can talk from there?
LN: Sure. Well, right now, I know that some of the looters that were apprehended had cell phones on them. We don’t know exactly how the information is being used by law enforcement, but technically, an example of things that could happen could include, doing forensics on the cell phone, identifying Snapchat handles they have communicated with, looking at text messages, looking for Twitter accounts and postings. And potentially, what I saw happening during the last week, at least in one instance, there was a post made to Twitter by a user that made a reference to doing a gig at Urban Outfitters on the West Side, and roughly a few hours after, that post went out on Twitter, referencing Urban Outfitters, Nike’s, Liquor and other things. Around four hours after that, looting that went on at that store, so that handle that posted and anyone else that reacted to that post could certainly have been alerted to the potential for mass looting in a coordinated way via social media.
DR: Yeah, I think even though the police do have capabilities to do that type of tracking and tracing, they they do heat maps of certain things. The problem is that these incidents, if they are coordinated, they happen pretty quickly so it’s sort of hard for them to kind of preempt it. But as you said, always, they have capabilities, right? To do anything with like cell phones that they capture, but they also have capabilities to do things like geofencing about who was in the area at certain time. So, a lot of what they’re doing is not necessarily preemptive or pre-crime is more of, if something is happening or has happened, they can go back and try to backtrack or trace or… If there are people on the scene they can apprehend whoever is there that’s doing whatever and they sort of build it out from there, right?
LN: Yeah, but just the other day, someone was captured and apprehended in… They got caught because they were posting their raid via social media, and they had a live view of them going to bomb, they were threatening to bomb the place and looted, taking cash registers and the stuff was, this someone that was not from Chicago, I think from downstate, somewhere that came in and came in with a goal to create problems and had a past history of that, but the person had the audacity to post it to Facebook, and the FBI just busted them and they’re indicted now.
DR: I don’t know why people share such things on social media. Because yeah, they do track and trace that. But, a lot of the things especially as I saw, it seemed like a lot of stores that have things like mobile phones have been attacked. And as you know those things are pretty easy to trace back. So I don’t know how far people–
LN: Apple had LoJack, in all their phones at the retail store, and so people who took those phones likely those phones likely got located but-
DR: Oh yeah, definately.
LN: I don’t know that that’s happening at the the cheap cell phone stores, the burner phones.
DR: Well, yeah, those are… No, I mean, they probably… If anything, obviously may have serial numbers and stuff like that but, once you… Whether it’s broken, or people change sims or whatever, it’s harder to track that stuff down. But yeah, the Apple phones, yes. They wouldn’t have very much problem. I think as I heard, I read that what Apple had done is for all the phones that were stolen from them, they were able to lock those down. And then it had a screen on there so that you actually couldn’t use it. So, that’s what I heard was happening with Apple.
LN: Yeah, well, they also have the ability to beacon out and send GPS location so-
DR: Oh, absolutely.
LN: People who are buying stolen Apple phones might find someone knocking on their door, law enforcement.
DR: Yeah, it’s probably not a good idea to buy one off the street at this point. So yeah.
LN: Yeah. Well, any thoughts on your concerns if the privacy issues that might relate to mere surveillance on people and tracking social media posts and actually getting in and subpoenaing phone numbers that were taxed to help try to prevent looting from happening?
DR: Well, okay. I guess that’s a couple of different things rolled up into one. So, obviously I’m concerned with mass surveillance, especially if it is capturing information not accurately or targeting people who may not have even been involved. So for example, a cell phone can’t tell like let’s say for instance, you’re standing at a corner and I’m at the stoplight. It says we’re next each other, but we’re not together. So, a cell phone tracking can’t really tell that so eury people who aren’t involved, who are innocent, who are especially in this regard, peacefully protesting, having them be adjacent to other people doesn’t mean that they were involved so-
LN: Lets just say though, for instance, that they found that there was a string of businesses hit, the Foot Locker, then Denny’s Liquor, CVS and Walgreens.
LN: There were a group of 20 people that all pinged off the four cell phone towers at the same times, and we’re in close proximity to that and a few other people were ID’d, would that be enough to justify surveillance on people where there were four cell phone towers in common across a range that put them all in the vicinity of where looting took place?
DR: I’m not sure if it would justify surveillance, so to speak, but I think that if they have other evidence, it may help them target those people more closely but, in terms of sweeping people up in surveillance exercise, I don’t think that’s going to happen unless they have additional information. So, let’s say they have information just like you said, like, okay, these people are in the vicinity and then they posted a picture on Facebook with some loot gear that they got, that would be enough, I think, to justify surveillance but just the fact, surrounding the vicinity, that’s probably not enough to go on, I don’t think.
LN: I appreciate your opinions and thoughts on this. It’s a difficult time right now and hopefully we’ll have stability and we’ll have people held accountable on all fronts, not just the leaders.