Cloud Computing Forensics

Cloud Computing Forensics

Mario A. Garcia (Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6539-2.ch015
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As computer technology evolved over the last 30 years, so did the opportunity to use computers to break the law. Out of necessity, digital forensics was birthed. Computer forensics is the practice of extracting information from the digital media in order to prosecute the individuals that carried out the crime. Forensic challenges presented by cloud computing are vast and complex. If a company becomes the target of a digital criminal investigation and they are using cloud computing, some unique challenges are faced by a digital forensics examiner. The data in the cloud only represents a “snapshot” of when it was sent to the cloud. Establishing a chain of custody for the data would become difficult or impossible if its integrity and authenticity cannot be fully determined. There are also potential forensic issues when the customer or user exits a cloud application. Items subject to forensic analysis, such as registry entries, temporary files, and other artifacts are lost, making malicious activity difficult to prove. The challenges of applying forensics to a cloud environment are tied to cloud security. This chapter discusses securing a cloud environment and how that would help with the forensic analysis.
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Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is the digital version of Rent-A-Center. It has burst out on the scene with many executives and cloud providers touting its ability to be flexible, on demand and responsive to changes in the operating landscape for nearly any organization. However, there are still some myths as what is exactly involved with Clouding computing. Cloud computing is defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology as “a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction” (Barnes, 2010). Some of the key elements of Cloud computing includes:

  • The infrastructure is owned and maintained by a third party called the Cloud Service Provider.

  • Access to the cloud is provided via a subscription basis using a demand elastic pricing model in which the customer pays more if he uses more resources on the cloud. This is a major reason why many small and medium sized businesses use the cloud service because they pay for what they use.

  • The services of cloud computing are delivered via the web making them platform and location agnostic. In other words, the end user needs to maintain their internet connection and all the other required services can be acquired through the internet.

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