Cloud Computing: Ethereal Challenges in 21st Century Digital Forensics

CLOUD_V3

Part 1 of 5

By Chris Brinkworth, Director Forensics and eDiscovery

Cloud computing has evolved as one of the most challenging and concerning topics in digital forensics.  There are many areas to consider with respect to cloud computing such as technology, geo-location, compliance and legal complications.  This post is the first of five to provide  brief dive into this topic and address some of the challenges we commonly encounter at EKP.

Cloud computing is a nice buzz word often used to broadly describe some form of storage, computing or communication that is hosted in the “cloud”, otherwise known as the Internet.  Buzz words aside, cloud computing is basically a form of outsourced computing, where the end user is accessing someone else’s computer (server or otherwise) to store data, access and use an application or communicate.  Our modern culture is immersed in this cloud computing with email (GMAIL, Yahoo, etc), Storage (Dropbox, Google Drive) or computing (Amazon Web Services, Quickbooks).  There is an astounding amount of options for anyone to access and leverage cloud computing at affordable prices to accomplish virtually any task imaginable.  But what happens when that information needs to be preserved and/or analysed for legal, compliance or other reasons?

By definition, that data is stored in the “cloud”, or an ethereal location that is conceptually far from our actually touching and holding the data like a thumb drive or computer disk.  From a digital forensics perspective, this is a minefield filled with possible issues.  However, navigating this minefield can be done yielding invaluable data that reveal necessary information about a person or event.  This data can be used for such actions like learning about what happened on a website with malicious code, email or instant text communications revealing intent or understanding a flawed application that provided bad information.  To successfully accomplish cloud-computing related digital forensic goals, several areas need attention:  scope of data, identification, tools, preservation techniques, authenticity of data, examination and analysis, compliance and legal considerations.

EKP professionals have vast experience in the Cloud and Cloud Security, as well as  providing valuable services in data preservation, analysis and reporting.  Please check back for part 2 of this cloud computing series to learn more.

chrisb@ekpartner.com

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4 Comments

  1. Reply

    Pushing performance is an interesting challenge here at the beginning of the 21st century, since a lot of server and storage components are commoditized and therefore available to others. The real engineering is coming up with innovative ways of putting

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