Gary Audin
Gary Audin is the President of Delphi, Inc. He has more than 40 years of computer, communications and security...
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Gary Audin | January 24, 2013 |


CSI for the Cloud

CSI for the Cloud Cloud computing expands the scale of digital forensic activities. It also creates new cybercrime investigations with new challenges.

Three Elements to Cloud Forensics
The first element of cloud forensics is, as expected, technical. This includes the tool set that is used for forensics discovery. There are also procedures that need to be followed. The technical element includes collecting the data, the data examination, analysis, and reporting as evidence.

The second element deals with the organization where the customer and the cloud service provider (CSP) are the principals in the investigation. If the CSP uses another service to complete their offering, then the scope of the investigation widens. The enterprise should establish one or more persons on staff to represent the enterprise during investigations. Outside experts may also become part of the enterprise's team.

The third element can be called the chain of dependencies. If as is true of many SaaS providers, the physical data center is an IaaS or PaaS, then CSPs are dependent on other CSPs. This will force close communications and collaboration among the parties to ensure that SLAs are enforced and the chain of evidence data is not compromised.

Challenges for Cloud Forensic Investigations
Cloud forensics will be developed by expanding the tools and procedures already in place for digital forensics. Additional challenges will be encountered when the cloud is involved, including:

* Forensic data collection--Ready access to data decreases as the enterprise moves from an IaaS to PaaS to a SaaS environment

* Elastic, static, and live forensics--The number of devices involved in the cloud service, including the endpoints, compounds the discovery and collation of data. Time synchronization (time stamps) and reporting formats can be barriers to data analysis.

* Evidence segregation--This relates to the problem of virtualization. How does the investigator know what is where and when things occurred?

* The expertise of the cloud and enterprise staffs--The skills and knowledge for conducting cloud forensic operations are relatively hard to locate and hire.

* External chain of dependency--There is a need to formulate and standardize how to work with CSPs who in turn work with other CSPs.

* Service level agreements--Transparency may be limited by the CSP if they are not making the enterprise fully aware of the details of the service performance that is being offered.

* Multiple legal jurisdictions--The rules and regulations will vary sometimes by state and certainly by country. Who is the primary authority may be hard to determine. It is also possible that more than one jurisdiction will expect to be the primary legal authority.

The cloud will grow rapidly. The enterprise has little long-term experience with cloud services; there will be a learning curve. Many forms of services, especially for SaaS, will create a wide range of issues to be faced by forensic investigators. If there are a number of legal issues that arise soon, these may dampen the enthusiasm by enterprises for cloud services, and slow its growth.


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