|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
17th Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises a...
May. 24, 2015 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,105
In this scenarios approach Joe Thykattil, Technology Architect & Sales at TimeWarner / Navisite, presented examples that will allow business-savvy professionals to make informed decisions based on a sound business model. This model covered the technology options in detail as well as a financial analysis. The TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) and ROI (Return on Investment) demonstrated how to start, develop and formulate a business case that will allow both small and large scale projects to achieve...
May. 24, 2015 04:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,973
The Workspace-as-a-Service (WaaS) market will grow to $6.4B by 2018. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Seth Bostock, CEO of IndependenceIT, will begin by walking the audience through the evolution of Workspace as-a-Service, where it is now vs. where it going. To look beyond the desktop we must understand exactly what WaaS is, who the users are, and where it is going in the future. IT departments, ISVs and service providers must look to workflow and automation capabilities to adapt to growing ...
May. 24, 2015 04:30 AM EDT Reads: 3,037
The truth is, today’s databases are anything but agile – they are effectively static repositories that are cumbersome to work with, difficult to change, and cannot keep pace with application demands. Performance suffers as a result, and it takes far longer than it should to deliver new features and capabilities needed to make your organization competitive. As your application and business needs change, data repositories and structures get outmoded rapidly, resulting in increased work for applica...
May. 24, 2015 04:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,632
The speed of product development has increased massively in the past 10 years. At the same time our formal secure development and SDL methodologies have fallen behind. This forces product developers to choose between rapid release times and security. In his session at DevOps Summit, Michael Murray, Director of Cyber Security Consulting and Assessment at GE Healthcare, examined the problems and presented some solutions for moving security into the DevOps lifecycle to ensure that we get fast AND ...
May. 24, 2015 04:15 AM EDT Reads: 4,812
After a couple of false starts, cloud-based desktop solutions are picking up steam, driven by trends such as BYOD and pervasive high-speed connectivity. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Seth Bostock, CEO of IndependenceIT, cut through the hype and the acronyms, and discussed the emergence of full-featured cloud workspaces that do for the desktop what cloud infrastructure did for the server. He also discussed VDI vs DaaS, implementation strategies and evaluation criteria.
May. 24, 2015 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 4,377
Thanks to Docker, it becomes very easy to leverage containers to build, ship, and run any Linux application on any kind of infrastructure. Docker is particularly helpful for microservice architectures because their successful implementation relies on a fast, efficient deployment mechanism – which is precisely one of the features of Docker. Microservice architectures are therefore becoming more popular, and are increasingly seen as an interesting option even for smaller projects, instead of bein...
May. 24, 2015 03:15 AM EDT Reads: 4,147
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading in...
May. 24, 2015 03:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,328
In his session at DevOps Summit, Tapabrata Pal, Director of Enterprise Architecture at Capital One, will tell a story about how Capital One has embraced Agile and DevOps Security practices across the Enterprise – driven by Enterprise Architecture; bringing in Development, Operations and Information Security organizations together. Capital Ones DevOpsSec practice is based upon three "pillars" – Shift-Left, Automate Everything, Dashboard Everything. Within about three years, from 100% waterfall, C...
May. 24, 2015 02:15 AM EDT Reads: 4,210
of cloud, colocation, managed services and disaster recovery solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. TierPoint, LLC, is a leading national provider of information technology and data center services, including cloud, colocation, disaster recovery and managed IT services, with corporate headquarters in St. Louis, MO. TierPoint was formed through the strategic combination of some of t...
May. 24, 2015 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,924
SYS-CON Events announced today Sematext Group, Inc., a Brooklyn-based Performance Monitoring and Log Management solution provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's DevOps Summit 2015 New York, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Sematext is a globally distributed organization that builds innovative Cloud and On Premises solutions for performance monitoring, alerting and anomaly detection (SPM), log management and analytics (Logsene), search analytics (S...
May. 24, 2015 12:45 AM EDT Reads: 4,999
SYS-CON Media announced today that Blue Box as launched a popular blog feed on Cloud Computing Journal. Cloud Computing Journal aims to help open the eyes of Enterprise IT professionals to the economics and strategies that utility/cloud computing provides. Blue Box Cloud gives you unequaled agility, without the burden of designing, deploying and managing your own infrastructure. It’s the right choice when public cloud just won’t do. Blue Box Cloud is a managed Private Cloud as a Service (...
May. 24, 2015 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,709
Docker is an open platform for developers and sysadmins of distributed applications that enables them to build, ship, and run any app anywhere. Docker allows applications to run on any platform irrespective of what tools were used to build it making it easy to distribute, test, and run software. I found this 5 Minute Docker video, which is very helpful when you want to get a quick and digestible overview. If you want to learn more, you can go to Docker’s web page and start with this Docker intro...
May. 23, 2015 09:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,619
Enterprises are fast realizing the importance of integrating SaaS/Cloud applications, API and on-premises data and processes, to unleash hidden value. This webinar explores how managers can use a Microservice-centric approach to aggressively tackle the unexpected new integration challenges posed by proliferation of cloud, mobile, social and big data projects. Industry analyst and SOA expert Jason Bloomberg will strip away the hype from microservices, and clearly identify their advantages and d...
May. 23, 2015 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,114
The 5th International DevOps Summit, co-located with 17th International Cloud Expo – being held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the...
May. 23, 2015 05:30 PM EDT Reads: 3,816
Over the years, a variety of methodologies have emerged in order to overcome the challenges related to project constraints. The successful use of each methodology seems highly context-dependent. However, communication seems to be the common denominator of the many challenges that project management methodologies intend to resolve. In this respect, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) can be viewed as powerful tools for managing projects. Few research papers have focused on the way...
May. 23, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,588
As the world moves from DevOps to NoOps, application deployment to the cloud ought to become a lot simpler. However, applications have been architected with a much tighter coupling than it needs to be which makes deployment in different environments and migration between them harder. 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 CloudFoundry – a complete developer-oriented Platform as a Service (PaaS...
May. 23, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,482
The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential. The DevOps Summit at Cloud Expo – to be held June 3-5, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City – will expand the DevOps community, enable a wide...
May. 23, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,648
T-Mobile has been transforming the wireless industry with its “Uncarrier” initiatives. Today as T-Mobile’s IT organization works to transform itself in a like manner, technical foundations built over the last couple of years are now key to their drive for more Agile delivery practices. In his session at DevOps Summit, Martin Krienke, Sr Development Manager at T-Mobile, will discuss where they started their Continuous Delivery journey, where they are today, and where they are going in an effort ...
May. 23, 2015 02:45 PM EDT Reads: 998
Cloud Expo, Inc. has announced today that Andi Mann returns to DevOps Summit 2015 as Conference Chair. The 4th International DevOps Summit will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City. "DevOps is set to be one of the most profound disruptions to hit IT in decades," said Andi Mann. "It is a natural extension of cloud computing, and I have seen both firsthand and in independent research the fantastic results DevOps delivers. So I am excited to help the great team at ...
May. 23, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,375