Digital Forensics in the Realm of Distributed Cloud Data

Cloud forensics

Cloud computing is a widely accepted technology that provides usage of datacenter resources to the user on pay per use service. A forensic analyst, in this context, should know where and how the data is stored or processed. When it comes to cloud deployment, the task of monitoring user activity is becoming a necessity. Additionally, presenting digital forensic in case of legal actions requires implementing a cloud forensics framework in the new or existing data centers.

Cloud Computing Fundamentals

Cloud Computing and Forensics

Cloud forensics is a sub-set of digital forensics that requires a unique approach to investigate cloud environments. Cloud forensic stakeholders consist of private enterprises, government members, law enforcement, etc. Cloud forensic investigators are expected to know the roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder to perform investigation effectively. By knowing the background and roles of each stakeholder, cloud forensic investigators will be able to categorize the reports and allocation process based on legal, technical, and organizational understanding. While signing the contract too, the classification helps in managing and defining their tasks with reference to the cloud.

As a cloud forensic investigator, the main challenge is to ensure the security of the digital evidence and ensuring that it is not tampered with by third parties. The evidence should be stored in an admissible manner so that it can be produced in a court of law. In PaaS (platform as a service) and SaaS (software as a service) cloud computing service model, the users are dependent on the cloud service providers (CSPs). The users do not have access to their logs due to a lack of control over hardware. The accessibility to the log files will be defined in the service policies. CSPs sometimes hide the logs from customers intentionally due to security reasons, whereas, in a few cases, the policies clear obstruct offering log access service.

Cloud service provider

In comparison to the traditional forensic environment, maintaining a chain of custody is challenging in cloud technology. Where in a traditional forensic environment, the internal security team controls the forensic investigators, the same has no control over the one hired by CSP to investigate. The risk factor is, if the appointed investigator by CSP is not trained to the level of forensic standard, the chain of custody may fall in the court of law.

Every cloud service model shares a defined responsibility with the cloud service provider and comes with at least one challenge when conducting cloud forensic investigations. This relationship creates distinct challenges to cloud forensic investigators as it may complicate the collection of evidence from being admissible in the court of law. CSPs do not always support cloud forensic investigations if their responsibility is negligible. All these challenges require a certified and skilled cloud forensic investigator who can perform investigation effectively.

Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator covers cloud computing a part of the program. The program is vendor-neutral and is designed by practicing computer forensic investigators from the industry. With 14 comprehensive modules and 39 labs, C|HFI covers all the required skills to be a competent computer forensics investigator.


What is cloud computing?
Cloud computing is a technology that has made life easier for users; it has even made the digital transformation of businesses possible. A cloud is a storage device, where the data is stored in fragmented and encrypted form.

Learn more about cloud computing: Redefining cloud computing using cloud security

What is digital forensics used for?
Digital Forensics can be defined as a branch of forensic science dedicated to investigating and identifying evidence in digital device-assisted crime.

Learn how digital forensics is a new age forensic science.

What is IoT forensics?
IoT forensics deals with crime investigations related to IoT devices. Due to the increasing number of IoT attacks, the security of the connected devices is at risk.

Read whether IoT is a boon or bane to cybersecurity.


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