Mergers and acquisitions can be a busy time for an organization. It can signal growth and change. Positives can include strengthening a core service line or gaining immediate access to a new set of clients but also has the potential to expose negative elements of a business.

At the beginning of Q2 2022, Cloud Widget Technologies (CWT) found itself at the end of an acquisition process but hit a bump that could potentially derail the deal. The scenario was interesting: an executive for CWT had recorded a video on a Samsung Galaxy smartphone of a C-suite meeting in which unfavorable sentiment and comments towards the purchasing party were made.

The recording was brought forward at the 11th hour of the merger process… and threatened to tank the deal.

When the leaked recording was analyzed, it revealed that it came from an iPhone (not a Samsung Galaxy) and that the video was created by taking a recording of another phone’s screen. Exactly the same process as taking an iPhone and making a video of what is playing on a TV: The picture and sound are captured, but the output is of lower quality.

A video playing from the white iPhone is recorded as a video file on the black iPhone.
A video playing from the white iPhone is recorded as a video file on the black iPhone.

 Prescriptive steps were needed to save the deal and maintain both organizations’ reputations.

Where Is The Data?

4Discovery was hired by CWT’s general counsel, who indicated from the start of the engagement that the custodian with the duplicate video might be challenging to navigate and difficult to work with. For example, the GC had challenges obtaining a clear and complete understanding of what device the duplicate video was recorded on, what cloud and backup settings were in place on the devices, and if the recording had potentially gone to other devices or accounts.

4Discovery’s digital forensic experts started with a custodial interview to understand the devices, accounts, and actions that had taken place during and after the recording. This process took several weeks and nearly a dozen communication touch points to definitively confirm that the recording was only on a single iPhone 13, with backup in retention settings to a single iCloud account.

With this critical information in place, a remote collection of the devices and account was coordinated and successfully initiated with the custodian’s participation.

iPhone signature for a settlement agreement

Remediation and Settlement

With preserved data from the device and account, the task was now moving forward with isolating the specific video file in question and ensuring that no additional copies had been disseminated. 

After confirming the device, account, and video recording locations, 4Discovery acted as an advisor and helped both sides draft and enter into a remediation protocol to ensure the secure and permanent deletion of the video file from all identified sources.

The remediation protocol allowed for both sides to move forward quickly and initiate a settlement agreement with the custodian. 

Confirmation Is Key

With all parties locked into the remediation protocol and with an executed settlement agreement, 4Discovery proceeded and remediated the video and provided confirmation to all parties that the data was gone forever.

While the digital forensics, analysis, and data remediation projects are nothing out of the ordinary, what provided the most value to CWT and their acquiring firm was the strategic and prudent approach taken to deal with a cumbersome custodian and a sensitive scenario. 4Discovery’s digital forensics team was able to guide all parties through the process and reach a resolution for everyone involved. 

By the way, CWT was successfully acquired and the business is thriving.

There’s often time-sensitive material and data that leaves an organization, but working with a team that knows how to identify it and ensure that it is either returned or deleted forever, can be invaluable to an individual and an organization’s reputation.