Think online investigation is just for the high-tech crimes types, the computer forensics geeks or the feds? Not so, says Todd in his interview with Cyber Speak’s Podcast (hosted, ironically, by two former federal agents). The more people are online, the more they’re likely to use cloud services, the more important it is for local law enforcement to be there too.
Todd’s appearance on Cyber Speak came about because of his two-part article on cloud computing, which had appeared in December in DFI News. He and Ovie Carroll discuss:
Impact of cloud computing on first responders
Detectives performing searches can’t simply pull the plug on a running computer anymore (a fact which prosecutors are having to get used to). They need to be able to perform data triage and possibly even volatile data collection.
Why? Because knowing whether a suspect has an online presence is critical to whether an arrest is made—and what happens afterward. Whether users are actively storing files “in the cloud” or simply members of social networking sites, law enforcement officers who don’t find evidence and therefore, do not make an arrest risk that suspect going online and deleting all incriminating information.
Why is this a problem? Because the very nature of cloud storage means investigators may not be able to access a logical hard drive somewhere to recover the evidence. First, the sheer amounts of data stored on servers make this close to impossible. Second, there are jurisdictional issues.
Are you exceeding your authority?
Not only may information be stored outside your jurisdiction, but it may also be stored in another country altogether—one with different criminal and privacy laws. Accessing evidence of a crime in the United States may actually mean committing a crime in another country (Todd relates the story of two FBI agents for whom arrest warrants were issued in Russia).
This is a problem for local law enforcement, which Todd notes has been left largely to its own devices when it comes to online crime. Only Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task forces have clear direction from the federal government on how to proceed.
Hence it’s easy for local police to kick Internet crimes up to regional, state or federal task forces. But as Todd points out, more people coming online means more crimes being committed against people in local jurisdictions both large and small. Law enforcement at every level needs to be able to respond.
Please listen to Todd and Ovie, and then come back and tell us what you think!
Christa M. Miller is Vere Software’s marketing/public relations consultant. She specializes in law enforcement and public safety and can be reached at christa at christammiller dot com.