Welcome!

Government Cloud Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Dana Gardner

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Agile Computing, Cloud Security

@CloudExpo: Article

The Impact of the Cloud on Digital Forensics - Part 2

Looking at potential tools that can contribute to the cloud security perimeter

As mentioned in  Part 1 of this article, one of my functions is to research current and up and coming solutions within the technology realm, particularly that of distributed computing and cloud computing.

It is a strong possibility that malicious users will eventually identify and exploit potential flaws within the cloud computing model. CSPs, in their pursuit to secure market share may have underestimated the possibilities of attack and misuse of their cloud resources by a malicious user or users.

The likelihood that the creation, storage, processing and distribution of illicit material will present major legal issues, is also a grave reality [4]

Digital Forensic Examiners also know that any effective forensic system has to have an effective means of monitoring and collecting a wide range of data as; there is no directive which states what may be pertinent to any one case a priori.

With regard to possibility of insider attacks, collecting data at the entry points of a network will not contribute to tracing insider attacks.

When our admin director signed me up to attend the webinar, The Case for Network Forensics - from Solera Networks a few weeks ago; to be honest I thought that it would be a variation of some tools already in use by another start-up.

The synopsis of this webinar had me recall a paper I read a while ago by a Gartner consultant [5] which stated, "Cloud services are especially difficult to investigate, because logging and data for multiple customers may be co-located and may also be spread across an ever-changing set of hosts and data centres," then, I figured it was only a matter of time before a start-up proved this statement wrong.

Enter Solera's discussion on network forensics. One takeaway was that the core nature of this product is that it is like a Security camera - and it records everything.

Ok I thought, digital forensics examiners typically have vast amounts of data to sift through in a traditional system anyway; how will this company's tools expedite the sorting and analysis to output what we need that is specific to an investigation within the cloud; which will be accepted in a court of law?

Also digital evidence by itself can be extremely fragile, in that it can be altered, damaged, or destroyed by improper handling or examination. As forensic examiners we know how critical it is to ensure that precautions are taken to document, collect, preserve and examine evidence. As you know any failure in this process can render a case inadmissible in court.

I took my questions to Peter Schlampp VP Marketing and Product Management and Alan Hall Director Marketing [6] from Solera, who provided insight as follows.

Within the cloud Solera's tools does not use a typical custom silicate, but rather will see packets as they are seeing it as if on a traditional system NIC.  Integrated into a cloud service providers environments this system claims to ensure that the customer are the only one seeing aspects of their data and no one else.

Of course I wondered about the VM managers at the cloud service provider (CSP) who manages the VMs at this point, as they can see customers' data.

The response, I received was as follows: Data tracks on the customer view, will be that of who interacted with their system in the cloud and what types of connections came in to the system hosted in the cloud. In other words it records traffic between virtual host on a physical host.

The system also has an integration with Sourcefire's defense center, although I haven't conducted a PEN-TEST in over a year, I still keep updated on current processes and technologies within the IT Security - Pen-Testing world; knowing that SNORT is utilized, was an immediate plus for me.

In the event of an incident, an investigator can drill down to event level which shows the frame of traffic; an alert from a Sourcefire event will then go directly to a Solera networks device.

Data provided from this can provide answers to: How did the connection get initiated? How do you know what happened afterwards? And for a host that was compromised one can potentially follow paths.

Despite this I still express some concerns with regard to levels of assurance for data held within the cloud amongst others. In order to get objective feedback, I approached one of my mentors Mark Pollitt for his sage input. Although he expressed his concern regarding the Solera's pitch of "network forensics for amateurs," he did state that "anything that will make analysis easier and capable of being done (even just as triage) by less skilled operators is very useful."

Whilst not an endorsement, it put my mind at ease in the sense that: the company had a vision which was on track with regard to a direction for virtualization, the cloud and forensic examination.

As a technologist there is nothing like more data and case study results to satisfy my reserve, so I presented these concerns to Schlampp and Hall, who responded with food for thought as follows:

Advanced Solera Networks network forensics technology now gives the ability to make data more understandable to a common individual. Packet detail is now rendered as web pages, emails, IMs, MS Office docs, etc. That means we can utilize support staff that can interpret this "human visible" or "human readable" data and clearly understand that the data obviously contain information we don't want leaked from our organization. With the advances Solera Networks makes, users have more front line incident response personnel that can determine if the appropriate triage requires escalation to those limited personnel that possess the in-depth skills. Those skills, combined with a complete forensics record from Solera Networks appliances, can uncover exactly what happened and more importantly, help determine the proper course of action and do so quickly to close the gap in response time between incident and remediation.

In a perfect world, effective network forensics requires the ability to "capture it all, all of the time." When we don't know what we don't know, capturing it all is the only way to ensure we have the complete data to interrogate and create the accurate story of what happened. However, what we end up with in practical use is usually something short of "everything."

We have to factor in things like amount of storage at our disposal, how fast our networks are running, what data or systems we have determined as most valuable in our organization, data protection regulations, etc. Accounting for these and other factors, Solera Networks has real-time network forensics technology that lets you make choices on what to capture - all data on every segment; selective segments of data based on port, specific applications, protocols, IP addresses, etc.; or, even get as granular as analyzing every packet for specific information like a hex pattern and only retaining those packets.

Selective capture requires a trade-off between creating more manageable "haystacks of data" and "missing the needle" altogether because it is in a different haystack of data that we didn't have the foresight to capture. Because of Solera Networks approach network forensics technology has evolved to the point where we can stick with one haystack and have the tools to find the exact needle in near real-time.

With any new product only time can tell the benefits it will provide. With regard to digital forensics and the drive to adopt cloud computing systems, any tool that will improve results, reduce false positives and give an investigator data that is relevant, factual and which can be presented and accepted in a court of law will be valued. I believe that these tools combined with a system such as that of ForNet [7] could chart a part for forensics investigations within the cloud ecosystem.

Accordingly ForNet :"helps with the postmortem of any security incident including insider attacks. It can also store potential evidence for months, which is much longer than any existing solution. With an integration of its XML based query routing protocols, coalescing of synopses, and a user interface, an analyst can locate evidence relating to an incident efficiently and transparently."

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

4. Cloud Computing Storms: Biggs, Vidalis; IJICR Vol 1, Issue 1, March 2010

5. GARTNER. 2008. Tough questions: Gartner tallies up seven cloud-computing security risks.

6.Peter Schlampp VP Marketing and Product Management,Alan Hall Director Marketing - Solera Networks

7.ForNet: A Distributed Forensic Network, Kulesh Shanmugasundaram - Project ForNet NYU Polytechnic University.

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."

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Headquartered in Plainsboro, NJ, Synametrics Technologies has provided IT professionals and computer systems developers since 1997. Based on the success of their initial product offerings (WinSQL and DeltaCopy), the company continues to create and hone innovative products that help its customers get more from their computer applications, databases and infrastructure. To date, over one million users around the world have chosen Synametrics solutions to help power their accelerated business or per...
A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great deals to great conferences, helping you discover new conferences and increase your return on investment.
Business professionals no longer wonder if they'll migrate to the cloud; it's now a matter of when. The cloud environment has proved to be a major force in transitioning to an agile business model that enables quick decisions and fast implementation that solidify customer relationships. And when the cloud is combined with the power of cognitive computing, it drives innovation and transformation that achieves astounding competitive advantage.
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that ICOHOLDER named "Media Sponsor" of Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO. ICOHOLDER gives detailed information and help the community to invest in the trusty projects. Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO has opened its Call for Papers. The two-day event will present 20 top Blockchain experts. All speaking inquiries which covers the following information can be submitted by email to [email protected] Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPOalso offers sp...
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...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IoT Global Network has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 6–8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The IoT Global Network is a platform where you can connect with industry experts and network across the IoT community to build the successful IoT business of the future.
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 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 Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
Machine learning has taken residence at our cities' cores and now we can finally have "smart cities." Cities are a collection of buildings made to provide the structure and safety necessary for people to function, create and survive. Buildings are a pool of ever-changing performance data from large automated systems such as heating and cooling to the people that live and work within them. Through machine learning, buildings can optimize performance, reduce costs, and improve occupant comfort by ...
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo, taking place November 12-13 in New York City, NY, is co-located with 22nd international CloudEXPO | first international DXWorldEXPO and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. 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 t...