Welcome!

API Journal Authors: Elizabeth White, Kevin Benedict, Anders Wallgren, Amit Golander, Jerome McFarland

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.


@ThingsExpo Stories
Join us at Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo 2016 – June 7-9 at the Javits Center in New York City and November 1-3 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – and deliver your unique message in a way that is striking and unforgettable by taking advantage of SYS-CON's unmatched high-impact, result-driven event / media packages.
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, will provide an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life ...
As cloud and storage projections continue to rise, the number of organizations moving to the cloud is escalating and it is clear cloud storage is here to stay. However, is it secure? Data is the lifeblood for government entities, countries, cloud service providers and enterprises alike and losing or exposing that data can have disastrous results. There are new concepts for data storage on the horizon that will deliver secure solutions for storing and moving sensitive data around the world. ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that BMC Software has been named "Siver Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. BMC is a global leader in innovative software solutions that help businesses transform into digital enterprises for the ultimate competitive advantage. BMC Digital Enterprise Management is a set of innovative IT solutions designed to make digital business fast, seamless, and optimized from mainframe to mo...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. MobiDev is a software company that develops and delivers turn-key mobile apps, websites, web services, and complex software systems for startups and enterprises. Since 2009 it has grown from a small group of passionate engineers and business managers to a full-scale mobile software company with over 200 develope...
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, will discuss the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to fo...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MangoApps will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. MangoApps provides modern company intranets and team collaboration software, allowing workers to stay connected and productive from anywhere in the world and from any device. For more information, please visit https://www.mangoapps.com/.
Companies can harness IoT and predictive analytics to sustain business continuity; predict and manage site performance during emergencies; minimize expensive reactive maintenance; and forecast equipment and maintenance budgets and expenditures. Providing cost-effective, uninterrupted service is challenging, particularly for organizations with geographically dispersed operations.
SYS-CON Events announced today TechTarget has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TechTarget is the Web’s leading destination for serious technology buyers researching and making enterprise technology decisions. Its extensive global networ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that EastBanc Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. EastBanc Technologies has been working at the frontier of technology since 1999. Today, the firm provides full-lifecycle software development delivering flexible technology solutions that seamlessly integrate with existing systems – whether on premise or cloud. EastBanc Technologies partners with p...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Tintri Inc., a leading producer of VM-aware storage (VAS) for virtualization and cloud environments, will exhibit at the 18th International CloudExpo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, wh...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
The IoT is changing the way enterprises conduct business. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, discuss how businesses can gain an edge over competitors by empowering consumers to take control through IoT. We'll cite examples such as a Washington, D.C.-based sports club that leveraged IoT and the cloud to develop a comprehensive booking system. He'll also highlight how IoT can revitalize and restore outdated business models, making them profitable...
The essence of data analysis involves setting up data pipelines that consist of several operations that are chained together – starting from data collection, data quality checks, data integration, data analysis and data visualization (including the setting up of interaction paths in that visualization). In our opinion, the challenges stem from the technology diversity at each stage of the data pipeline as well as the lack of process around the analysis.
Designing IoT applications is complex, but deploying them in a scalable fashion is even more complex. A scalable, API first IaaS cloud is a good start, but in order to understand the various components specific to deploying IoT applications, one needs to understand the architecture of these applications and figure out how to scale these components independently. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nara Rajagopalan is CEO of Accelerite, will discuss the fundamental architecture of IoT applications, ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York and 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 ...
18th Cloud Expo, taking place June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, 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 are using some...
SoftLayer operates a global cloud infrastructure platform built for Internet scale. With a global footprint of data centers and network points of presence, SoftLayer provides infrastructure as a service to leading-edge customers ranging from Web startups to global enterprises. SoftLayer's modular architecture, full-featured API, and sophisticated automation provide unparalleled performance and control. Its flexible unified platform seamlessly spans physical and virtual devices linked via a world...