|By Jon Shende||
|October 24, 2012 11:00 AM EDT||
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:
- 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.
- Lack of access to network routers, load balancers and other networked components.
- No access to large firewall installations
- There are challenges in mapping known hops from instance to instance which will remain static across the cloud-routing schema.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Routing information that is not already on "the box" will be difficult to obtain within this ecosystem.
- 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.
- Politt MM. Six blind men from Indostan. Digital forensics research workshop (DFRWS); 2004.
- Digital Forensics:Defining a Research Agenda -Nance,Hay Bishop 2009;978-0-7695-3450-3/09 IEEE
- Dan Morrill- 10 things to think about with cloud-computing and forensics
Despite all the talk about public cloud services and DevOps, you would think the move to cloud for enterprises is clear and simple. But in a survey of almost 1,600 IT decision makers across the USA and Europe, the state of the cloud in enterprise today is still fraught with considerable frustration. The business case for apps in the real world cloud is hybrid, bimodal, multi-platform, and difficult. Download this report commissioned by NTT Communications to see the insightful findings – registra...
Oct. 7, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 219
Application availability is not just the measure of “being up”. Many apps can claim that status. Technically they are running and responding to requests, but at a rate which users would certainly interpret as being down. That’s because excessive load times can (and will be) interpreted as “not available.” That’s why it’s important to view ensuring application availability as requiring attention to all its composite parts: scalability, performance, and security.
Oct. 7, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 371
Culture is the most important ingredient of DevOps. The challenge for most organizations is defining and communicating a vision of beneficial DevOps culture for their organizations, and then facilitating the changes needed to achieve that. Often this comes down to an ability to provide true leadership. As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership ab...
Oct. 7, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 856
Several years ago, I was a developer in a travel reservation aggregator. Our mission was to pull flight and hotel data from a bunch of cryptic reservation platforms, and provide it to other companies via an API library - for a fee. That was before companies like Expedia standardized such things. We started with simple methods like getFlightLeg() or addPassengerName(), each performing a small, well-understood function. But our customers wanted bigger, more encompassing services that would "do ...
Oct. 7, 2015 10:45 AM EDT Reads: 517
“All our customers are looking at the cloud ecosystem as an important part of their overall product strategy. Some see it evolve as a multi-cloud / hybrid cloud strategy, while others are embracing all forms of cloud offerings like PaaS, IaaS and SaaS in their solutions,” noted Suhas Joshi, Vice President – Technology, at Harbinger Group, in this exclusive Q&A with Cloud Expo Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff.
Oct. 7, 2015 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 377
The APN DevOps Competency highlights APN Partners who demonstrate deep capabilities delivering continuous integration, continuous delivery, and configuration management. They help customers transform their business to be more efficient and agile by leveraging the AWS platform and DevOps principles.
Oct. 7, 2015 09:15 AM EDT Reads: 110
As we increasingly rely on technology to improve the quality and efficiency of our personal and professional lives, software has become the key business differentiator. Organizations must release software faster, as well as ensure the safety, security, and reliability of their applications. The option to make trade-offs between time and quality no longer exists—software teams must deliver quality and speed. To meet these expectations, businesses have shifted from more traditional approaches of d...
Oct. 7, 2015 08:45 AM EDT Reads: 164
Ten years ago, there may have been only a single application that talked directly to the database and spit out HTML; customer service, sales - most of the organizations I work with have been moving toward a design philosophy more like unix, where each application consists of a series of small tools stitched together. In web example above, that likely means a login service combines with webpages that call other services - like enter and update record. That allows the customer service team to writ...
Oct. 7, 2015 08:45 AM EDT Reads: 324
What Is Emergent About Emergent Architecture? By @TheEbizWizard | @DevOpsSummit #DevOps #BigData #API
All we need to do is have our teams self-organize, and behold! Emergent design and/or architecture springs up out of the nothingness! If only it were that easy, right? I follow in the footsteps of so many people who have long wondered at the meanings of such simple words, as though they were dogma from on high. Emerge? Self-organizing? Profound, to be sure. But what do we really make of this sentence?
Oct. 7, 2015 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 384
As the world moves towards more DevOps and microservices, application deployment to the cloud ought to become a lot simpler. The microservices architecture, which is the basis of many new age distributed systems such as OpenStack, NetFlix and so on, is at the heart of Cloud Foundry - a complete developer-oriented Platform as a Service (PaaS) that is IaaS agnostic and supports vCloud, OpenStack and AWS. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Raghavan "Rags" Srinivas, an Architect/Developer Evangeli...
Oct. 7, 2015 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 134
There once was a time when testers operated on their own, in isolation. They’d huddle as a group around the harsh glow of dozens of CRT monitors, clicking through GUIs and recording results. Anxiously, they’d wait for the developers in the other room to fix the bugs they found, yet they’d frequently leave the office disappointed as issues were filed away as non-critical. These teams would rarely interact, save for those scarce moments when a coder would wander in needing to reproduce a particula...
Oct. 7, 2015 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 278
In today's digital world, change is the one constant. Disruptive innovations like cloud, mobility, social media, and the Internet of Things have reshaped the market and set new standards in customer expectations. To remain competitive, businesses must tap the potential of emerging technologies and markets through the rapid release of new products and services. However, the rigid and siloed structures of traditional IT platforms and processes are slowing them down – resulting in lengthy delivery ...
Oct. 7, 2015 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 987
Last month, my partners in crime – Carmen DeArdo from Nationwide, Lee Reid, my colleague from IBM and I wrote a 3-part series of blog posts on DevOps.com. We titled our posts the Simple Math, Calculus and Art of DevOps. I would venture to say these are must-reads for any organization adopting DevOps. We examined all three ascpects – the Cultural, Automation and Process improvement side of DevOps. One of the key underlying themes of the three posts was the need for Cultural change – things like t...
Oct. 7, 2015 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 316
In a report titled “Forecast Analysis: Enterprise Application Software, Worldwide, 2Q15 Update,” Gartner analysts highlighted the increasing trend of application modernization among enterprises. According to a recent survey, 45% of respondents stated that modernization of installed on-premises core enterprise applications is one of the top five priorities. Gartner also predicted that by 2020, 75% of
Oct. 7, 2015 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 276
It is with great pleasure that I am able to announce that Jesse Proudman, Blue Box CTO, has been appointed to the position of IBM Distinguished Engineer. Jesse is the first employee at Blue Box to receive this honor, and I’m quite confident there will be more to follow given the amazing talent at Blue Box with whom I have had the pleasure to collaborate. I’d like to provide an overview of what it means to become an IBM Distinguished Engineer.
Oct. 7, 2015 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 174
SYS-CON Events announced today that G2G3 will exhibit at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit Silicon Valley, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Based on a collective appreciation for user experience, design, and technology, G2G3 is uniquely qualified and motivated to redefine how organizations and people engage in an increasingly digital world.
Oct. 7, 2015 03:00 AM EDT Reads: 394
The cloud has reached mainstream IT. Those 18.7 million data centers out there (server closets to corporate data centers to colocation deployments) are moving to the cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Achim Weiss, CEO & co-founder of ProfitBricks, will share how two companies – one in the U.S. and one in Germany – are achieving their goals with cloud infrastructure. More than a case study, he will share the details of how they prioritized their cloud computing infrastructure deployments ...
Oct. 7, 2015 03:00 AM EDT Reads: 700
If you are new to Python, you might be confused about the different versions that are available. Although Python 3 is the latest generation of the language, many programmers still use Python 2.7, the final update to Python 2, which was released in 2010. There is currently no clear-cut answer to the question of which version of Python you should use; the decision depends on what you want to achieve. While Python 3 is clearly the future of the language, some programmers choose to remain with Py...
Oct. 7, 2015 02:00 AM EDT Reads: 206
Opinions on how best to package and deliver applications are legion and, like many other aspects of the software world, are subject to recurring trend cycles. On the server-side, the current favorite is container delivery: a “full stack” approach in which your application and everything it needs to run are specified in a container definition. That definition is then “compiled” down to a container image and deployed by retrieving the image and passing it to a container runtime to create a running...
Oct. 7, 2015 12:30 AM EDT Reads: 171
Somebody call the buzzword police: we have a serious case of microservices-washing in progress. The term “microservices-washing” is derived from “whitewashing,” meaning to hide some inconvenient truth with bluster and nonsense. We saw plenty of cloudwashing a few years ago, as vendors and enterprises alike pretended what they were doing was cloud, even though it wasn’t. Today, the hype around microservices has led to the same kind of obfuscation, as vendors and enterprise technologists alike ar...
Oct. 7, 2015 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 400