Accounting for Law

NearZero Discovery:

Lotus Notes/Domino data gotcha's

By Richard Wessel of NearZero Discovery

Getting into the details

Lotus Notes/Domino is a collaborative platform that provides support for email, and other collaborative applications (purchased or custom developed) integrating social media, security, improving productivity, accelerating operations and enhancing decision making. (Read more about IBM Domino.)

Lotus Notes/Domino may be considered a legacy email platform, with most organizations embracing Microsoft’s Exchange or Office 365 platforms for email. However, litigation is historical in nature, so all that "old" email and other data contained within Lotus Notes applications is still potentially relevant today.

NearZero Discovery provides services to support the collection of this data. This is provided for both email or application based data. However, there are a few items you need to watch out for, especially when it comes to the preservation and collection of data:

  1. Replica Database vs. Database Copy

    1. Lotus Notes/Domino allows databases (mail and application) to synchronize any changes, (ie: Replicate) between servers and local workstations, that users make. This synchronization process ensures that all data in one replica is in the other replica. This feature only works if the databases are replicas of one another. When you get replicas of the same database, depending on when they last synchronized, the data contained within may be slightly different, however the backed metadata (Notes ID, Document UniqueID, etc.) is the same across the replicas.

    2. A copy of a database is just that - a copy. It cannot synchronize with another instance of the database. A copy maintains the content of the original database it was made from, but the backend metadata changes so that it is unique from the original database.

    3. Depending on your matter, there may be a need to confirm and show you are working with a REPLICA vs. a COPY of the database. And whether or not there were any additional database features that may have restricted the content of the database you are looking at: these are called Replication Formulas.

  2. Enforced Consistent Access Control List

    1. This security feature ensures that, even if you have a replica of the data on your local machine, you are forced to have the same security access as if the data was located on the Domino Server.

  3. Application Design Security Features

    1. Readers Fields: Restricts who can read the document.

    2. Authors Fields: Restricts who can edit the document.

    3. Controlled Access Sections: Sections within the document itself that are restricted so only specific people can read/edit the content.

    4. View Selection Formulas: When looking at a Notes view, the data can be restricted to only display data records that meet specific properties. You cannot assume all the documents are in the view you want exported.

      1. Switch Form when opened from View: When opening a document, it is possible that the form used to display the information will be switched to a form that is based on a formula, typically used to restrict what users can see or edit.

  4. Database Encryption

    1. By default, in the Lotus Notes Client, when you create a new replica or a copy of a database the resulting database will be encrypted with the user’s ID. This means that when you send it to a service provider or a law firm, when they try to access it, they will be told that they cannot.

    2. You will then need to provide the ID used to create it, or have the replica/copy recreated without being encrypted.

  5. Single Copy Object Store (SCOS)

    1. This feature allowed the domino server to reduce the overall size of mail files by storing common components of a mail message (email body, any embedded object, or attachments) that was sent to multiple recipients in one location. Pointers were then added to the components in all the recipients’ mail files. This meant that instead of storing a file attachment multiple times, there would only be one Single Copy stored in a Lotus Notes database.

    2. Issues can occur when collecting mail data, where the mail ends up being “truncated” because the SCOS repository is not available to be accessed.

      1. If the data is coming from a server where the SCOS is still in place, then you need to either remove the mail file from the SCOS configuration settings or create a new local replica allowing all the content to merge back into the resulting mail file.

      2. If the data is coming from a backup tape, and there is no server available to restore, then you need to work with a partner to restore the data and attempt to also restore the SCOS databases. Then you can attempt to create the new local replica.

    3. This feature is no longer available to be used after Release 8.5

  6. Domino Attachment Object Store (DAOS)

    1. This is the newer updated version of SCOS, but it only supports the storage of attachments and embedded objects. This feature can be configured to apply against non-mail files as well as the mail file. File Attachments are now stored in a directory on the file server, and a database of pointers maintained to locate it.

    2. Similar issues with the data being “truncated” occur. The resolution efforts are similar to SCOS, in that you need to create a new local replica to rebuild the mail file from all of its components.

  7. Mail Journaling

    1. An IBM Domino server feature that allows for the gathering of all email for configured users (sent/received). If this has been set up and configured, you may be able to use this as another source of data for your collection.

After reading this list, you are probably hesitant towards collecting Lotus Notes Data. Most Lotus Notes/Domino Administrators are aware of these features and typically will deal with them before providing the data. However, it is still important for you to be aware of them.

The Certified eDiscovery Specialists (CEDS) at NearZero Discovery can provide you with support for your eDiscovery needs. If you have questions about working with Lotus Notes for eDiscovery matters, or for more information, contact NearZero Discovery by calling 289-803-9730 or send us an email.

 

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