Computer Crime Research Center


Eye of the computer

Date: February 10, 2008
By: Walt Frank

TYRONE — Reclamere Inc. now has an expert on board to help companies confronted with embezzlement and employee misconduct cases.

Retired Pennsylvania State Police Cpl. Tom Laino joined the firm to assist in the e-discovery and computer forensics department.

E-discovery is the process of looking for, finding, recovering and analyzing digital data for evidence to use in a civil litigation prosecution, said Laino, who retired in April after 26 years of service.

‘‘Tom was part of my dream team,’’ said Angie Singer Keating, co-founder and vice president of compliance and security. ‘‘When we began this service, I knew to do it right we had to get the best possible people. Tom is a forensics expert. He has been through the trenches, and certifications he holds are the highest you can hold in computer forensics.’’

Laino, 49, of Cresson completed more than 600 hours of training in the field and holds professional certifications of electronic evidence collection specialist, computer forensic examiner, hacking forensic investigator and EnCase (a brand of software) examiner.

‘‘Computer forensics is like an autopsy of the computer,’’ Keating said.

Today, many workplace crimes, such as embezzlement, sexual harassment or misconduct, are committed with the use of a computer. The evidence can be found right on the computer, Keating said.

That is where Laino’s expertise comes into play.

‘‘From square one, the evidence is on the hard drive,” he said. “I first make an exact image of the hard drive so we don’t change any of the information. We use the image to go in and search for what we are looking for.

‘‘We use software tools to access the hard drive and find data. We need to make sure the files are not changed so we can say it is the actual file on the computer when it is seized or taken.’’

The evidence must not be changed so it can be used in court.

When serving as a computer crime investigator for Troop G of the state police —from 2002 until his retirement — Laino’s cases dealt primarily with child pornography or solicitation, identity theft and harassment by text message and e-mail. He also assisted in homicide and drug cases.

With Reclamere, Laino is focusing on working with small businesses.

‘‘E-discovery is a relatively new field for businesses,” he said. “The laws require them to retain data for so long. What’s new is more businesses realize they will need these services. This should grow in the future.’’

Reclamere presently handles two or three cases a month, said Nikki Brown, company spokeswoman.

According to Reclamere’s research, it is the only company in the region qualified to offer this service with a certified forensic examiner, she said.
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