For the purposes of this project, imagine you are an Information Security (InfoSec) Specialist,an employee of the Makestuff Company, assigned to the company’s Incident Response Team.
In this case, you have been notified by Mr. Hirum Andfirum, Human Resources Director for the Makestuff Company, that the company has just terminated Mr. Got Yourprop, a former engineer in the company’s New Products Division, for cause. Mr. Andfirum tells you that at Mr. Yourprop’s exit interviewearlier that day, the terminated employee made several statements to the effect of “it is okay because I have a new job already and they were VERY happy to have me come from Makestuff, with ALL I have to offer.” Mr. Yourprop’s statements made Mr. Andfirum fear he might be taking Makestuff’s intellectual property with him to his new employer (undoubtedly a Makestuff competitor). In particular, Mr. Andfirum is worried about the loss of the source code for “Product X,” which the company is counting on to earn millions in revenue over the next three years. Mr. Andfirum provides you a copy of the source code to use in your investigation. Lastly, Mr. Andfirum tells you to remember that the Company wants to retain the option to refer the investigation to law enforcement in the future, so anything you do should be with thought about later potential admissibility in court.
The 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” While the 4th Amendment is most commonly interpreted to only affect/restrict governmental power (e.g., law enforcement), the fact that a formal criminal investigation is a possibility (and the Company has no desire to be named in a civil lawsuit) means you must consider its effect your actions.
With the above scenario in mind, thoroughly answer the following questions (in paragraph format, properly citing outside research, where appropriate).
1. Can you (or Mr. Yourprop’s supervisor) search Yourprop’s personal vehicle currently parked in the Company parking lot for digital evidence? Support your answer.
2. If evidence of this theft of intellectual property can be found, Makestuff Company may seek to pursue criminal prosecution. Can Mr. Yourprop’s supervisor direct local police investigators to search his personal vehicle which is parked on the Company parking lot? Support your answer.
3. Can (or Mr. Yourprop’s supervisor) search Yourprop’s assigned locker in the Company’s on-site gym for digital evidence? Support your answer.
4. Can (or Mr. Yourprop’s supervisor) use a master key to search Yourprop’s locked desk after he has left the premises for digital evidence? Support your answer.
5. There is a page in the Company’s “Employee Handbook” that states that anything brought onto the Company’s property, including the employees themselves, is subject to random search for items belonging to the Company. There is a space for the employee to acknowledge receipt of this notice. Mr. Yourprop has a copy of the handbook but never signed the page. Does that matter? Explain.
6. Makestuff Company uses a security checkpoint at the entrance to the building. A sign adjacent to the checkpoint states that the purpose of the checkpoint is for security staff to check for weapons or other materials that may be detrimental to the working environment or employee safety. Screening is casual and usually consists of verification of an employee’s Company ID card. Can security staff at this checkpoint be directed to open Mr. Yourprop’s briefcase and seize any potential digital evidence? Support your answer.