Cloud Computing Challenges Forensic Investigations

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Cloud Computing Challenges Forensic Investigations

If you think that the new online based tools such as “cloud computing” are pretty cool, we’d agree with you. After all, how great is it to be able to access your files from anywhere you can get an internet connection?

Forensic investigators and law enforcement however, might not share your joy.  While technology has brought the world to our fingertips, it is proving to be ripe with challenges where criminal investigations are concerned.

Enter the cloud

Let’s say that a criminal is under investigation and moves their existing files or data into the cloud.  The criminal behavior could continue while the business operates directly from the cloud, right?  You might be saying that the investigators could draw the information from the cloud but there’s a problem.  The data that has been moved offers only a glimpse of when the information was sent.

Once the data is sitting in the cloud, it could literally be sent anywhere.  You could send it to countries where the operations might not be illegal and therefore are permitted to continue operating without worrying about the consequences.

If we were looking to establish the chain of custody, our investigation would come to a complete standstill because it would be hard or in some cases not possible at all to figure out who had access to the information, if the information is authentic, who sent it and where the information was stored.

Do internet privacy concerns protect the bad guys?

Some people believe that when it comes to the Internet, nothing is private, but that isn’t necessarily true.  Just read the latest disclosure from Google regarding your Google account and privacy.  The truth is that there is so much information that comes and goes from the cloud that it is incredibly difficult to track down users who tap into services provided by an anonymous host.  This becomes even more of a challenge when they have Anonymous-level privacy skills and can make their online tracks vanish into thin air.

Even if the forensic investigator would be able to make a determination as to the source and owner of the information, they then have to present not only the evidence, but their chain of custody to a court of law.  In this case, the good comes with the bad and they would have to explain the aggravating factors in determining the chain, including the fact that it is cannot be determined with 100% accuracy that the evidence from the cloud is concrete.

So while we are aware that cloud based computing presents many challenges and potential roadblocks to forensic investigations, law enforcement agents and investigators are being forced back to the basics.

Get in touch with the reliable team at Prudential Associates and let us show you how our state of the art technologies can put you well ahead of the game.  We offer computer and digital forensic investigation services in Maryland, Washington DC and Virginia. Learn more about our computer forensic services by clicking here.