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The FBI Scanned Clinton’s Emails the Same Way Your Boss Reads Yours

FBI Director Says Clinton Review is Completed, Critics Question Timing 1:26

The FBI said this weekend that an investigative team had worked "around the clock to process and review" emails found on former New York congressman Anthony Weiner's laptop that related to the agency's probe of Hillary Clinton.

But even a moderately tech savvy person could weed through 650,000 emails in a little more than a week if they knew what they were looking for, according to experts.

"Anybody with coding skills could write a script and do this in 15 to 20 minutes," Jeremiah Grossman, chief of security at SentinelOne, told NBC News. "It just a bunch of filters. I’m looking for a word, a phrase or to and from a certain person."

Not all of the 650,000 emails in question were Clinton's. The FBI was able to weed out duplicate Clinton emails that had already been reviewed by using filters, drastically reducing the number needing human review, according to sources.

Image: Email
Email. Crowther and Carter / Getty Images

Edward Snowden, who arguably knows a few things about computers and surveillance, said even old laptops could weed out duplicate emails that had already been reviewed, within a timespan of "minutes-to-hours."

Related: Trump Questions Thoroughness of FBI Review of Clinton Emails

The FBI could then use keywords pertaining to certain issues to help identify the emails that needed a human review.

Other techies also chimed in to reiterate how easy it would be for the FBI to complete its review with the help of computer script.

Robert Siciliano, CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com, told NBC News there are also a number of programs and ways companies may use filters and software to keep track of their employees' emails and flag anything suspicious.

"On employer-owned employee devices, it is likely your employer is watching and filtering and is aware of all your internal communications," Siciliano said.

That might mean setting filters for words such as "porn" or "sex" or YouTube links or anything surrounding proprietary information, he said. The idea is a human would then be flagged and can take a look to see if an employee needs disciplinary action.

Companies such as Veriato and InterGuard offer solutions that allow companies to monitor their employees' communications and search for specific keywords.

"Email can also be silently saved and archived" to be analyzed should the need ever arise, Grossman said. He added that many companies are already scanning employee emails for secrets — their own.

Many companies have data loss prevention systems in place to scan emails to ensure secrets aren't being leaked, he said.

And for illicit activity that isn't related to national security or industrial sabotage... suspicious spouses can find a number of email-scanning programs programs with a simple Google search — though it's worth noting the legals waters here are notoriously muddy.

Accessing messages without permission could be a violation of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. However, if your spouse gave you his or her password, that may be a different story.