The use of cloud applications and computing is becoming increasingly common in the digital sphere, for businesses as well as personal use. As a result, criminal activity in cloud services will likely increase. However, extracting data from cloud systems may involve much more complex acquisition and analysis than required for extracting data from a single device. At this point in time, law enforcement and legal representatives are largely unprepared to deal with the extraction of cloud data.
You may be asking, what exactly is cloud computing? Cloud computing is essentially a service that allows businesses and individuals to access their data and software through the Internet, rather than storing that information on a single desktop or company platform. Many businesses use cloud computing systems in order to save money on things like infrastructure and hardware. The physical location of the servers that store data and make up the cloud are of little importance to the user.
However, when it comes to extracting case evidence from the cloud, physical location is important. Cloud computing poses a challenge to digital forensics practices because data and information are not stored directly on a single device, but most likely over multiple systems and servers. As a result, cloud processing may occur in different jurisdictions.
Additionally, whereas a lawyer or investigator can have immediate control of a personal device, the Internet is beyond any one person’s control. Therefore, it may be hard to find uncontaminated evidence stored in cloud applications that would be admissible in court.
Despite these challenges, cloud applications likely host data that could be used as case evidence. While there are currently no legislative guidelines for specifically handling cloud-based data, there are general digital forensics guidelines that lawyers and law enforcement should follow when dealing with cloud applications. These guidelines include accessing data, preserving evidence, and the legal right to data (in some cases, a subpoena or warrant may be necessary to access data from the cloud service provider).
As more businesses and individuals come to rely on cloud applications and data storage, cloud-based criminal activity will increase. As a result, more and more criminal cases will rely on case evidence extracted from cloud services. In the coming years, we will likely see many adjustments made to digital forensics practices to keep up with the advancement of cloud services. It is important for law enforcement and legal representation alike to progress with these practices so that they can be prepared to handle the extraction and analysis of cloud data.
If you have any questions regarding cloud computing and digital forensics, the digital forensics team at Liberty Business Associates is here to help. Contact us today and see how our experts can assist you, online or at 843-329-1991.