Digital data is not “born” with integrity, and content integrity doesn’t just happen. In order to assert that data has integrity, it must have an integrity mechanism applied at generation, or instantiation, and both the data and the integrity mechanism must be “testable.” Without some way to demonstrate and test data content integrity, computer information generated by public and private enterprise remains inherently susceptible to attack and challenge. TimeCertain technology adds a critical integrity mechanism in two ways: (1) A trusted and accurate time source is used to associate time with digital data, and (2) a strong, and testable mechanism is provided for associating the trusted time with any digital data.

One of the easiest data manipulation exploits in a computing environment is time. Time in a computing environment is unprotected as to its source as well as its association with digital data. Data content integrity is highly susceptible to unauthorized and undetectable manipulation by those having control over a computing environment. Data generated in these environments can have been altered, misdated, or created after the fact without any means to test for authenticity. Nearly all digital data content generated today is therefore inherently unreliable, and untrustworthy. Examples of time-based data manipulation abound, and include the options backdating cases, and publications of “pixels that lie,” or digital photos that have been fraudulently altered. The use of fraudulently altered digital evidence at trial can have substantial monetary consequences. Similarly, a successful challenge to data content reliability can result in its exclusion as evidence in a proceeding, again with potentially significant monetary consequences.

In the example below, we can see how time based data manipulation can cause pixels to “lie.” The full body x-ray on the left shows what appears to be a cancerous rib lesion (look at the bright area on the second and fourth images). The x-ray on the right appears healthy, and shows no sign of any cancerous lesion. The “cure”? Adobe Photoshop®, and a bit of image manipulation.