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Metadata Analysis with E-mail

Written by DFM Team


Metadata Analysis with E-mail

Metadata. From last author to MACE dates, as forensic analysts our lives revolve around metadata. We stake our professional reputations on being able to properly interpret and describe it, we use it to understand relationships and patterns within the data we analyze, and ultimately we rely on its accuracy as a core foundation for our findings. But how often do we take the time to take a deep look at the tools we use and what we are relying on to extract this information, and what happens when we get it wrong? In a recent case, our team was asked to review a few highly relevant emails that had been produced with various, contradictory time stamps. Specifically we needed to know how this could be possible without malicious intent or alteration of the evidence and, more importantly, what the correct time stamps were for these email messages. The emails in question originated from Microsoft Outlook, Exchange and Bloomberg messaging.

We do a fair bit of work with clients where dates and times are important, but in this case the difference of a few hours in receipt of the email could alter the entire trajectory of the case. I’ll leave the legal nuance of the arguments to the lawyers, but suffice it to say, the difference between 10am and 2pm could make a significant difference in the case for our client.

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