In a recent NPR podcast entitled, “Your Cell Phone’s A Snitch,” we hear a story which, in many ways, is old news. They share talk about a string of armed robberies in Detroit in 2010, and how the police and FBI began collecting data from a suspect’s cell phone carrier, so they could build a clear and detailed understanding of his life: “where he went and when, which Sundays he skipped out on church, and which nights he decided to sleep somewhere other than his own house.”
In the end, the suspect, Timothy Carpenter, received 116 years in prison after authorities compiled data from four months of surveillance; all of it without a warrant. Case closed. Now it has resurfaced and has led to a Supreme Court hearing , which will determine if this type of warrantless search and seizure of cell phone records are in violation of the Fourth Amendment. .
Tracking electronic data for use as evidence has become a daily occurrence. According to NPR, cell phone carriers receive 10,000 requests per year, such as the one in the Carpenter case. . With this normalcy, many of us have accepted the Orwellian logic that comes with our digital world: that you remain anonymous if you go with the crowd; that if you’re innocent, you have nothing to hide. While most of us aren’t going to give up our smartphones and go off the grid -- because let’s face it, digital devices have revolutionized the way we do pretty much everything, often for the better – it’s important to have a clear understanding of how to protect your data; especially for corporations.
In the same way that digital evidence catching criminals has become old news (Can you believe HBO’s The Wire is over ten years old?), data breaches with large banks, corporations, and government agencies have also become just another part of the news cycle. That’s why, moving into the new year, Chief Information and Security Officers should be keeping up to date with the latest strategies in the field.