As a continuation of its information risk management initiative, and to prevent future legal expenses relating to tape restoration, the client sought to remediate more than 50,000 backup tapes. With FTI’s guidance, the organization planned to destroy any tapes that contained legacy data no longer relevant to present legal hold or records retention obligations. Because the previous remediation and retention effort had solidified the email archive as the “golden source” for email data, any tapes containing email were also considered redundant and in need of disposal.
The client had more than 50,000 backup tapes, along with hard drives, floppy disks and boxes of paper records, in storage with an outside vendor. Many were dated prior to 2008, the year of the client’s oldest legal hold, while others contained redundant copies of email already stored in the archive. The contents and dates of the remaining tapes were unknown to the client’s legal and compliance stakeholders, leaving a major blind spot in the efforts to understand and contain data related risks.
In addition to a large volume of backup tapes that needed to be identified, catalogued and analyzed, FTI Consulting met additional issues with the client’s outside storage provider. Some of the client’s backups were stored in closed containers, and the vendor was to provide FTI with a detailed inventory of their contents and separate any media that did not pertain to backups (such as floppy disks and paper) from the tapes. But the vendor had misplaced and mixed up many of the client’s stores, and delivered them with an inaccurate, incomplete inventory in such disarray that it nearly brought the entire remediation project to a halt.
FTI scanned the initial set of tapes, and first identified the ones that contained email and were created prior to the oldest legal hold. Those were all disposed of without further review, providing an immediate removal of approximately 20,000 unnecessary tapes from the client’s U.S., EMEA and APAC stores.
When the storage vendor’s mistakes threatened the project, FTI’s Digital Forensics & Investigations team stepped in to untangle the mess and create an itemized inventory of all of the data. Their quick response and work in recovering the storage provider’s forensic mistakes was integral to getting the remediation workstream back on track.
The team continues to analyze remaining tapes, to understand what information was stored within certain closed containers and tapes sent to storage after 2008. Any and all tapes that do not contain information under legal hold will be removed. They expect to identify several thousand more tapes that can be defensibly destroyed.
FTI also created a disaster recovery policy and procedures to prevent future over preservation. The client now has a format for ensuring backup tapes are not stored for longer than 180 days and enabling exceptions to the rule for any tapes that the business must retain beyond that period.