Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Corey Roth, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, Cloud Security

@CloudExpo: Article

The Impact of the Cloud on Digital Forensics - Part 1

Taking digital forensics beyond the traditional security perimeter into a cloud security perimeter.

Digital Forensics is not an elephant, it is a process and not just one process, but a group of tasks and processes in investigation. Examiners now perform targeted examinations using forensic tools and databases of known files, selecting specific files and data types for review while ignoring files of irrelevant type and content. Despite the application of sophisticated tools, the forensic process still relies on the examiner's knowledge of the technical aspects of the specimen and understanding of the case and the law - Mark Pollitt.

As has been established from articles by various authors including myself, this re-branded model of  computing now called cloud computing proposes benefits that can improve productivity, harness high-speed systems which can  manage large data sets as well as systems implementations, and could have a net positive impact on the operational budget (scaling,elasticity) of some small and midsized enterprises.

Of course there is the possibility that a private cloud for a small enterprise may not warrant its cost, in comparison to that of harnessing the benefits of a public cloud offering.

For a larger enterprise with say multiple and/or international locations, a private cloud infrastructure can provide an added cost benefit that whilst not as cheap as a public cloud offering, would offset that cost variance in terms of the risk profile of systems being moved into a private cloud e.g. critical databases, transactional and/or processing systems as well as potential compliance concerns.

If however an enterprise chooses to utilize a public cloud offering there will be the added complications for information security, in terms of procedural and legal standpoints. This leads us to the point that, with a public cloud system; we no longer have the traditional defined security perimeter.

This new cloud security perimeter can now be any place on any device where people will access an enterprise provided network, resources and systems.

With regard to digital forensics and the e-discovery process, this new cloud security perimeter stemming from the trend with which data is now accessed via the internet, housed and consumed on multiple systems and devices internationally, will pose some serious challenges(legally and technically) with the potential to complicate a security investigation. e.g. defining incident response, access rules and policies governing  access as well as  support processes.

Traditional network forensics  metrics will not give a complete picture of what can occur within the cloud computing environment; for instance there could be limitations in terms of focus only on data going  into and out from  systems which an enterprise has access to, and as we know this generally stops at the gateway into the cloud.

In terms of network forensics, packet capture and analysis is important; with the cloud ecosystem there is the real possibility of an increase in the vast amount of data that may need to be processed. This will only increase the workload on the digital investigator who will most likely have more than a plate full of hex patterns, network metadata and logs to analyze., as is the case with a traditional system analysis.

This increased volume can severely cripple an investigation; more so if a forensic investigator does not completely understand the cloud ecosystem's architecture, its complex linkages that bridge cloud services and an enterprise's systems in addition to how these systems impact an enterprise in terms of potential ingress points that can lead to systems compromise.

The cloud while a boon to enterprise CapEx/OpEx is also a gold-mine for crackers who can set up systems for attack with as little as $50 e.g with  Amazon Web Services (AWS), an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) either Linux or Windows can  run a virtual machine which can be set it up to do whatever an end-user wants to do with it, that is, within the confines of the virtualized world; this environment is owned by the enduser (a cracker in this case) from the operating system  up.

Of course the IAAS and other hardware systems, IDS/IPS, firewalls, remain under the control and belong to the cloud service provider.

With regard to say conducting a forensic investigation on a virtualized server,there is that potential loss of data that can be relevant to an investigation once an image is stopped or a virtualized server is shut down, with minimal chance of retrieving a specific image from its virtualized server.

As mentioned there are several merits for the case to adopt a cloud service however, from a digital forensics point of view; an understanding of the inherent limitations of such a system needs to be clearly understood and properly reviewed and scoped by an enterprises IT Security team  regarding how such an implementation will adapt to their current security model. These metrics may vary based on the selected cloud provider the enterprise will use.

Gathered data can then assist the enterprise security on how to mitigate the potential for compromise and other risk that can affect the enterprises operations stemming from this added environment. This in turn can potentially alleviate the pains of a digital forensics investigation with cloud computing overtures.

Digital Forensic expert Nicole Bebee stated, "No research has been published on how cloud computing environmnets affect digital artifacts, and legal issues related to cloud computing environments."

Of note is the fact that with the top CSPs (Amazon, Rackspace, Azure) one can find common attributes from which a security manager can tweak the enterprises security policies.

Some things of note that will impact a forensic investigation within the cloud ecosystem are:

  1. A network forensics investigator is limited to tools on the box rather than the entire network, however if a proper ISO is made of the machine image, then all the standard information in the machine image's ISO should be available as it would with any other server in a data center.
  2. Lack of access to network routers, load balancers and other networked components.
  3. No access to large firewall installations
  4. There are challenges in mapping known hops from instance to instance which will remain static across the cloud-routing schema.
  5. System Administrators can build and tear down virtual machines (VMs) at will. This can influence an enterprises security policy and plans as, new rules and regulations will have to be implemented as we work with cloud servers and services that are suspected of being compromised.
  6. An enterprises threat environment should be treated with the same mindset for the cloud ecosystem as it would for any exposed service that is offered across the Internet.
  7. With the cloud ecosystem an advantage with regards to forensics is the ability for a digital investigator to store very large log files on a storage instance or in a very large database for easy data retrieval and discovery.
  8. An enterprise has to be open to the fact that there will be a risk of data being damaged, accessed, altered, or denied by the CSP.
  9. Routing information that is not already on "the box" will be difficult to obtain within this ecosystem.
  10. For encrypted disks, wouldn't it be theoretically feasible to spin up "n" cloud instances to help crack the encryption? According to Dan Morrill this can be an expensive process.

As those of us who are students and practitioners within the field of digital forensic know , any advance in this area tend to be primarily reactionary in nature and most likely developed  to respond to a specific incident or subset of incidents. This can pose a major challenge in the traditional systems; one can only imagine what can occur when faced with a distributed cloud ecosystem.

In terms of digital forensics, any tool that will make an examiners job easier, improve results, reduce false positives and generate data that is relevant, pertinent and can be admitted in a court of law will be of value.

Being my firms lead solutions researcher and consultant I am always on the lookout for any new process, system or tool that will make my job as well as that of my team easier as we work with our clients. This led me to attend a webinar: The Case for Network Forensics; from a company called Solera Networks ...continued in Part 2.

Special thanks to Mark Pollitt for his valuable insight.

References

  1. Politt MM. Six blind men from Indostan. Digital forensics research workshop (DFRWS); 2004.
  2. Digital Forensics:Defining a Research Agenda -Nance,Hay Bishop 2009;978-0-7695-3450-3/09 IEEE
  3. Dan Morrill- 10 things to think about with cloud-computing and forensics

More Stories By Jon Shende

Jon RG Shende is an executive with over 18 years of industry experience. He commenced his career, in the medical arena, then moved into the Oil and Gas environment where he was introduced to SCADA and network technologies,also becoming certified in Industrial Pump and Valve repairs. Jon gained global experience over his career working within several verticals to include pharma, medical sales and marketing services as well as within the technology services environment, eventually becoming the youngest VP of an international enterprise. He is a graduate of the University of Oxford, holds a Masters certificate in Business Administration, as well as an MSc in IT Security, specializing in Computer Crime and Forensics with a thesis on security in the Cloud. Jon, well versed with the technology startup and mid sized venture ecosystems, has contributed at the C and Senior Director level for former clients. As an IT Security Executive, Jon has experience with Virtualization,Strategy, Governance,Risk Management, Continuity and Compliance. He was an early adopter of web-services, web-based tools and successfully beta tested a remote assistance and support software for a major telecom. Within the realm of sales, marketing and business development, Jon earned commendations for turnaround strategies within the services and pharma industry. For one pharma contract he was responsibe for bringing low performing districts up to number 1 rankings for consecutive quarters; as well as outperforming quotas from 125% up to 314%. Part of this was achieved by working closely with sales and marketing teams to ensure message and product placement were on point. Professionally he is a Fellow of the BCS Chartered Institute for IT, an HITRUST Certified CSF Practitioner and holds the CITP and CRISC certifications.Jon Shende currently works as a Senior Director for a CSP. A recognised thought Leader, Jon has been invited to speak for the SANs Institute, has spoken at Cloud Expo in New York as well as sat on a panel at Cloud Expo Santa Clara, and has been an Ernst and Young CPE conference speaker. His personal blog is located at http://jonshende.blogspot.com/view/magazine "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit."

@ThingsExpo Stories
Amazon started as an online bookseller 20 years ago. Since then, it has evolved into a technology juggernaut that has disrupted multiple markets and industries and touches many aspects of our lives. It is a relentless technology and business model innovator driving disruption throughout numerous ecosystems. Amazon’s AWS revenues alone are approaching $16B a year making it one of the largest IT companies in the world. With dominant offerings in Cloud, IoT, eCommerce, Big Data, AI, Digital Assista...
The Founder of NostaLab and a member of the Google Health Advisory Board, John is a unique combination of strategic thinker, marketer and entrepreneur. His career was built on the "science of advertising" combining strategy, creativity and marketing for industry-leading results. Combined with his ability to communicate complicated scientific concepts in a way that consumers and scientists alike can appreciate, John is a sought-after speaker for conferences on the forefront of healthcare science,...
In his session at Cloud Expo, Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, presented a success story of an entrepreneur who has both suffered through and benefited from offshore development across multiple businesses: The smart choice, or how to select the right offshore development partner Warning signs, or how to minimize chances of making the wrong choice Collaboration, or how to establish the most effective work processes Budget control, or how to maximize project result...
In his keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Sheng Liang, co-founder and CEO of Rancher Labs, discussed the technological advances and new business opportunities created by the rapid adoption of containers. With the success of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and various open source technologies used to build private clouds, cloud computing has become an essential component of IT strategy. However, users continue to face challenges in implementing clouds, as older technologies evolve and newer ones like Docker c...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, discussed the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
Personalization has long been the holy grail of marketing. Simply stated, communicate the most relevant offer to the right person and you will increase sales. To achieve this, you must understand the individual. Consequently, digital marketers developed many ways to gather and leverage customer information to deliver targeted experiences. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lou Casal, Founder and Principal Consultant at Practicala, discussed how the Internet of Things (IoT) has accelerated our abilit...
When shopping for a new data processing platform for IoT solutions, many development teams want to be able to test-drive options before making a choice. Yet when evaluating an IoT solution, it’s simply not feasible to do so at scale with physical devices. Building a sensor simulator is the next best choice; however, generating a realistic simulation at very high TPS with ease of configurability is a formidable challenge. When dealing with multiple application or transport protocols, you would be...
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Two weeks ago (November 3-5), I attended the Cloud Expo Silicon Valley as a speaker, where I presented on the security and privacy due diligence requirements for cloud solutions. Cloud security is a topical issue for every CIO, CISO, and technology buyer. Decision-makers are always looking for insights on how to mitigate the security risks of implementing and using cloud solutions. Based on the presentation topics covered at the conference, as well as the general discussions heard between sessio...
Detecting internal user threats in the Big Data eco-system is challenging and cumbersome. Many organizations monitor internal usage of the Big Data eco-system using a set of alerts. This is not a scalable process given the increase in the number of alerts with the accelerating growth in data volume and user base. Organizations are increasingly leveraging machine learning to monitor only those data elements that are sensitive and critical, autonomously establish monitoring policies, and to detect...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Arvind Radhakrishnen discussed how IoT offers new business models in banking and financial services organizations with the capability to revolutionize products, payments, channels, business processes and asset management built on strong architectural foundation. The following topics were covered: How IoT stands to impact various business parameters including customer experience, cost and risk management within BFS organizations.
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, discussed how they built...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settl...
IoT solutions exploit operational data generated by Internet-connected smart “things” for the purpose of gaining operational insight and producing “better outcomes” (for example, create new business models, eliminate unscheduled maintenance, etc.). The explosive proliferation of IoT solutions will result in an exponential growth in the volume of IoT data, precipitating significant Information Governance issues: who owns the IoT data, what are the rights/duties of IoT solutions adopters towards t...
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, examined the regulations and provided insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence arou...
Organizations planning enterprise data center consolidation and modernization projects are faced with a challenging, costly reality. Requirements to deploy modern, cloud-native applications simultaneously with traditional client/server applications are almost impossible to achieve with hardware-centric enterprise infrastructure. Compute and network infrastructure are fast moving down a software-defined path, but storage has been a laggard. Until now.
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that All in Mobile, a mobile app development company from Poland, will exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO. All In Mobile is a mobile app development company from Poland. Since 2014, they maintain passion for developing mobile applications for enterprises and startups worldwide.
Digital Transformation is much more than a buzzword. The radical shift to digital mechanisms for almost every process is evident across all industries and verticals. This is often especially true in financial services, where the legacy environment is many times unable to keep up with the rapidly shifting demands of the consumer. The constant pressure to provide complete, omnichannel delivery of customer-facing solutions to meet both regulatory and customer demands is putting enormous pressure on...
The best way to leverage your CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at CloudEXPO. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audienc...
IoT is at the core or many Digital Transformation initiatives with the goal of re-inventing a company's business model. We all agree that collecting relevant IoT data will result in massive amounts of data needing to be stored. However, with the rapid development of IoT devices and ongoing business model transformation, we are not able to predict the volume and growth of IoT data. And with the lack of IoT history, traditional methods of IT and infrastructure planning based on the past do not app...