Editorial: Take care up there

THE IRONY. As I sat here preparing to write this editorial about taking law enforcement data on the cloud, I got an email from a co-worker, inquiring if I’d had any issues with a website we frequently use in our day-to-day business. I checked, and sure enough, I couldn't log in. Something was amiss.

Then I found another email from a different vendor whose website I rely on for another business that I operate. Their website was down too. Hmm.

The problem, which probably affected many of you on February 28, was that Amazon Web Services’ S3 storage system went down around lunchtime, bringing a good number of major web services to a screeching halt. The cloud was down.

Of course, this isn't the first widespread cloud snafu. The two major cloud service providers, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, have both had their share of downtime over the years. As any computer user (today, that means all of us) knows, technology can and will fail; downtime is inevitable. It's situations like the February 28 outage that remind us, however, just how connected we have become, and how reliant we are on being able to access our data and services on the cloud.

Since the introduction of that “Information Superhighway” in the 1990s, we have grown accustomed to having information available to us on demand. Likewise, since “The Cloud” became a commonplace thing that stores our personal and professional data, we have come to expect immediate access to our digital things no matter where we are or what device we are using. And, just as we have adapted personally and professionally, so will law enforcement—and forensics.

Yes, it’s ironic that the cloud partially and temporarily evaporated on the day that I sat down to write an editorial about the cloud. But really, it only renders the information in our article, “In the Cloud” (page 4), that much more valuable. The article explains the forethought that has gone into ensuring segregation, encryption, and redundancy on the cloud; how data is safeguarded by technology and procedures that ensure secure servers, high system and data availability, and frequent software refreshes.

It also demonstrates how carefully agencies must proceed when developing their standard operating procedures for the storage and use of data on the cloud. As technology has shown us many times over, if something can go wrong, it will—whether it’s on the cloud or on a stand-alone desktop hard drive. Careful planning and preparation will ensure the lowest level of disruption possible.

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Evidence Technology Magazine

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