Cloud computing

Cloud computing is the on-demand delivery of IT resources over the internet with subscription-based pricing, instead of companies owning and maintaining their own data centers, you have cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, etc. offering their services as needed [1].

Although cloud computing is beneficial for companies and users alike, it currently poses a challenge to the digital forensics world. To forensic examiners and law enforcement, this means evidence is no longer at their fingertips in the form of physical devices such as hard drives, USBs, and computers. The evidence is now being stored on the cloud somewhere, whether at AWS, Google Cloud, IBM Cloud, or perhaps some less popular cloud providers based in another country. To combat this new technology, a new practice of digital forensics is emerging “cloud forensics” [2].

According to a report by TechTarget’s George Lawton, “US courts, law enforcement and criminologists are just beginning to grasp the extent of the challenge, as lawsuits and investigations already have become more complex due to digitization of information” [2].

Two problems are:

• Cost factor – If suspected evidence is located outside the U.S. then the acquisition of digital evidence becomes a costly process because the investigator will have use more resources to investigation outside the country, which increases the cost of investigation.

• Time factor – In the cloud environment, the resources are distributed so the nature of the cloud also effects the investigation process, because the investigator visits each suspected site which will cause a delay in the acquisition process [3].

A few things that should be implemented to overcome these problems:

  1. A international law implemented to help overcome the issue of cloud evidence being in different countries.
  2. A new forensic tool created that will help with remote evidence collection, which would resolve cost and time issues.
  3. Proper guidelines to for cloud forensic framework [3].

In conclusion, cloud technology is still new and is the future, but it poses a great challenge to the digital forensics world. Despite this, technology is always advancing at an astonishing rate and with time we will eventually have new forensic tools that will help cloud forensics. We most likely will even have laws in place that will combat the digital forensic challenges with the cloud. As we have experts growing the cloud industry field, we will even have experts growing in the cloud forensics field.

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