The FBI likely used automated search and filtering tools to accomplish the feat of searching about 650,000 emails on the computer of the estranged husband of a close aide to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, said Jonathan Zdziarski, a forensics expert.
A former FBI forensics told Wired that the FBI has tools that can find key pieces of information in large bodies of data very quickly.
In some parts of the election, technology and cybersecurity has taken center stage. Particularly of interest has been Clinton's personal email server and newly disclosed emails. The FBI again decided not to press charges, however many have asked how they got through all that data so fast. Analytic capabilities and sifting through large data sets is common practice, both in enterprises and in federal agencies versed in investigating records and big sets of records.
"This is not rocket science," Zdziarski told Wired. "Eight days is more than enough time to pull this off in a responsible way."
In fact, Zdziarski and other experts say eight days is a rather long time to accomplish the task.
Zdziarski said the process likely came down to parsing only the emails sent to or from Clinton, filtering out duplicate emails from those the FBI had already reviewed during its previous investigation, and then sorting the emails by thread. Edward Snowden offered a similar tactic for sifting through the emails this weekend.
@jeffjarvis Drop non-responsive To:/CC:/BCC:, hash both sets, then subtract those that match. Old laptops could do it in minutes-to-hours.— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) November 7, 2016