Information governance lessons learned from the Patraeus scandal

With the election over and the dust settling from Hurricane Sandy, General David Petraeus, the now-former head of the Central Intelligence Agency, has been the hottest topic in the news. After being exposed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for a scandalous affair with his own biographer, the long-time military man was forced to step down from his post.

As new evidence continues to surface, it is becoming clearer that Patraeus failed to get the education he needed in best data security and information governance practices. One thing corporate executives and entrepreneurs should take note here: if the head of the most advanced and widespread spy consortium known to man can fall for tricks that lead to discovery nightmares, so can your companies.

Spy Harder!

Maybe Leslie Nielsen’s classic depiction of the intelligence community in Spy Hard wasn’t so far from the truth, especially if you look at the cover of the DVD. The general’s current debacle definitely brings other classics such as Peter Sellers in the Pink Panther series, as well as Bill Murray in The Man Who Knew Too Little. You’d think that the spy of all spies would know how to cover his tracks, but here we are.

Lisa Vaas of Naked Security recently reported that General Patraeus was lulled into a false sense of security, thinking that an anonymous email account would help keep his love affair under wraps. However, the FBI seemed to have a pretty easy time at tracing the roots of the account and exposing the fact that Patraeus and Paula Broadwell had set up a private chat room of sorts.

The news provider explained that when Jill Kelley, a social planner that was involved with a military base in Florida where Patraeus used to work, started receiving harassing email, she contacted the FBI. From there, the FBI used pretty standard eDiscovery tactics to find the origination point, which just so happened to be Broadwell’s home.

The email header was likely the real source of clarity for the FBI, as some providers include the sender’s IP address in the header. The source added that email users should take the time to read over what other metadata is compiled and shared through their email headers. Failing to know this information can lead to a disaster for many enterprises.

Don’t go it alone;

If there is one thing this story clearly illustrates, it is the need for better and more proactive strategizing for data security and information governance in the enterprise. Whether or not you agree with General Patraeus on moral and ethical values, a decorated military member and chief of the U.S. spy community falling as a result of basic ignorance and carelessness illustrates how easy it really is to lose crucial corporate information.

By procuring the proper enterprise litigation support solutions, businesses can rest assured that their information will be safe, secure and accounted for.