Search on for deleted Andersen emails

Search on for deleted Andersen emails

Data recovery specialists are trying to locate missing emails and paper documents from energy giant Enron's long-time auditor Andersen.

Andersen has admitted that its employees destroyed thousands of emails and documents concerning Enron between 23 October and 9 November after federal securities regulators asked for information about the company. The energy giant is the largest ever business failure in the US.

Ontrack Data International spokesperson Nicolle Martin said that, because of confidentiality agreements with clients, the company cannot comment on any involvement it may have with the Enron case.

But she confirmed that Ontrack works on cases with the FBI, security agencies, law firms and others to help them find information that has been deleted from computers.

‘There are a lot of factors that determine the difficulty of recovering deleted information, such as time since deleted, activity on a computer since deletion occurred, how the information was deleted and whether a backup was made,’ Martin told AccountancyAge.com’s sister website vnunet.com.

She explained that the company thinks of data on a computer as electronic DNA. ‘Computer forensics is the process of investigating how a computer was used, how documents on those computers were used, which documents were deleted and then actually retrieving those documents,’ she said.

Emails are difficult to permanently erase because they often reside in many locations within a computer network. Hitting the delete button simply erases the file from view, but the underlying data remains until the computer fills that space with new data.

In a separate development, US authorities have argued that the destruction of Enron’s financial documents may have violated a California state law.

State senator Joe Dunn, chairman of the Senate Select Committee to Investigate Price Manipulation in the Wholesale Energy Market, said he would ask for subpoenas to require officials from both Enron and Andersen to appear for depositions about the destroyed documents.

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