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Death by Natural Causes…or Because of Smart Phone Failure?

Could Digital Forensics on a Diabetes Monitoring Device Help Solve The Case?

The girl died in her sleep.  We’ll call her Sara.  A young college student with a bright future. Sara had battled Diabetes since she was a little girl.  Sometime during the evening while fast asleep in her dorm room her glucose levels became catastrophically out of normal, and her body shut down. She never woke up.

Glucose level conceptual meterRecently, Sara’s health had improved some, and her parents were greatly comforted by a Glucose Monitoring Device doctors had installed in her body that would alert Sara and her family if her numbers reached dangerous levels.  That device, connected to a mobile phone App would send a text to loved ones and an audible alert to Sara if her glucose levels dipped.  This technology, along with next generation diabetes medicine, had provided Sara with a good measure of optimism for a fairly “normal” life.

So what went wrong?  The prominent personal injury attorney that relayed this heartbreaking story to me last week believes the monitoring device installed in Sara’s body may have failed.  Or perhaps her smart phone, or the App installed upon it crashed, neglecting to send that potentially life-saving text message to Sara’s parents. We will soon find out the truth as we bring those devices into our lab for forensic analysis.

Smartphone before BusinesschartOne thing is for sure, the acceleration of “the Internet of Things” (IoT), is changing our lives, and will dramatically impact eDiscovery and Digital Forensics in the years to come.  Did the device controlling the private jet’s stall alarm fail, causing the crash?  Is the trading company responsible for the multi-billion dollar loss they claim their trader’s mobile device never executed?  Is the insurance company liable for paying a claim for three million dollars worth of rancid steaks when the trucking company’s Internet-connected truck refrigeration monitor fails to sound the alarm when the truck temp climbs above 45 degrees?  These and a wide array of other legal questions will likely be resolved through forensic examinations of Internet attached devices in the future.

There will be 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2025.  Some of these gadgets will monitor critical data points like when it time to re-stock your fridge with the latest micro-brew.  Other IoT connected sensors will communicate far more serious intel, like “is there a healthy heart available for my dying patient?”  Regardless of the device, attorneys need to be prepared for how the IoT will alter the trajectory of their cases.  Better yet, forward-thinking lawyers will increase their value to their clients by becoming a trusted legal advisor on all things related to IoT.

The Take-Aways
Get up to speed on the digital risks related to IoT.  Be prepared to discuss the emerging security and legal risks associated with IoT with your clients.
When engaged in an internal investigation or discovery, remember that the digital evidence stored on Internet-connected devices can be an extremely relevant source of ESI.

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About Jeff Hartman

Jeff is a 30 year veteran of the corporate security, computer forensics, and eDiscovery community and a co-founder and partner at 4Discovery. 4Discovery is a leading provider of computer incident response and computer forensics services to attorneys, corporate security executives, and the information protection community.