By Tom Quiner
My buddy, Lee, the IT guy sent me an e-mail about the IRS “lost” e-mail scandal.
How plausible is the IRS excuse that the computer crashed and all data was lost?
Lee dissects the issue from the perspective of an IT guy:
I am not hopeful, but if someone with the right expertise combined with adequate speaking ability would come forward and challenge the powers that be, plus have the authority to pursue an investigation, I think it would go something like this:
Let’s forget about the individual workstation that supposedly had a hard drive crash. We will give the IRS the benefit of the doubt here and go with the story, assuming that they are not backing up workstations. Instead we will focus on the infrastructure, which was never mentioned in the proceedings I witnessed.
Like the vast majority of organizations, the IRS runs email on servers which clients connect to. The clients may or may not have a locally-cached (meaning a local copy) store of their mailbox, but all mail for any individual has to at least traverse the network of email servers to be placed in an inbox. Further, every night a backup is run that captures a snapshot of all email in everyone’s mailbox. These backup tapes are typically kept for at least several months, but oftentimes due to regulatory requirements are kept much longer.
So for an organization like the IRS to claim that they cannot produce any data centered around a given mailbox is – unless proven otherwise – very VERY unlikely. There would need to be long-term gross negligence and/or purposeful data destruction at multiple levels of technology and management.
Allow me to dissect that sentence:
Long-term – the inquiry regards emails that were transported and stored for 6 months to a year.
Gross negligence – industry standards such as centralized mailboxes, nightly backups, offsite storage, and regular restoration tests were not done.
Purposeful data destruction – if the IRS had followed any of the industry standards mentioned above, we could conclude that the data was willfully destroyed to avoid being found.
At multiple levels of technology and management – Multiple redundant I.T. systems failed and multiple levels of management would have needed to either been negligent or complicit.
***** From a professional’s perspective: I call it B.S. *****