For any organization or individual using digital information, deciding on the best storage method is an indispensable process. Notably, organizations rely on data assets to derive invaluable informational insights and in making appropriate decisions. Hence, data storage has to be both accessible and secure. Storage technologies vary from on-premise methods to colocation and cloud storage.
On-premise data storage is considered the original data storage approach, which involves the use of organizational servers. These servers may range from a handful of machines located in a closet to those located in a data center facility (Neelima & Padma, 2014). An essential aspect of on-premise data storage is that it grants an organization full control of data. However, on-premise data storage has inherent disadvantages, including the high capital cost for acquiring software and hardware and maintaining them through time.
While many organizations are intrigued by the idea of gaining control over their data, the management, which includes implementation of new features and power and cooling needs, is, at times, overwhelming. As a result, some companies use colocation as their alternative storage approach. Colocation implies the sharing of organizational data with an off-premise data center. By employing this approach, a company gains benefits such as reduced cooling and power costs, incorporation of new network features due to versatile connectivity options, and robust security protocols. However, a disadvantage of using colocation is that a company has lesser control over its data. In this case, access to organizational data may be limited to certain days and times.
With big data and the internet of things becoming the norm in the current technological era, organizations have found the need to use storage technologies that match their significant data needs. Cloud storage or cloud computing offers a versatile model that enables convenient, ubiquitous, and on-demand access to data stored in a shared pool of computing resources that are easily released and rapidly provisioned to the client without service provider interaction (Kamalakannan et al., 2019). Other benefits associated with cloud storage are that it is highly scalable, implying that a company can access more computing resources or storage as demand arises. However, cloud storage’sstorage’s primary drawback is the open nature of the cloud environment, which makes it more vulnerable to unauthorized access.
Hashing in Criminal Justice
Hashes refer to unique values generated through a cryptographic algorithm. Hash values are commonly referred to as digital DNA or digital fingerprints. According to Sammons (2015), hash functions are used in different ways, including checking the integrity of evidence and cryptography. In digital forensics, a hash value is generated during imaging and stored for detailed analysis. As Sammons (2015) reveals, the slightest change, even by a single bit, results in an entirely different hash function. Hence, any manipulation or tampering of evidence can be easily detected. Hence, if the hash function imaged does not match the hash value generated on the replica disk, it creates evidence that there was an attempt to tamper with evidence.
How Digital Forensic Analysts find Data in Files
Digital evidence is, by nature, fragile and can be easily lost, damaged, or altered. To retrieve lost, damaged, or altered digital evidence, a digital forensic analyst can perform various actions. First, data can be retrieved from a digital device’sdevice’s recycle bin. In most cases, some of the deleted files deemed unimportant may become tangible evidence of a criminal case. A digital forensic analyst may retrieve lost files by searching the recycling bin, which stores temporary files before permanent deletion. Additionally, they might use specialized software to perform the recovery of permanently deleted files.
The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution places various restrictions regarding the retrieval of data. As a result, breaking a single rule can invalidate all the evidence extracted from digital devices. According to Godison et al. (2015), if the evidence is obtained improperly, it is deemed less necessary to the criminal justice system. For instance, the Fourth Amendment prevents digital forensic analysts from performing unreasonable searches and seizures. Hence, if a law enforcement officer fails to obtain a warrant to search and obtain electronic devices to search for evidence, a court may forfeit any evidence obtained through such actions.
Laws Governing Digital/Computer Crimes
Criminal activities involving the use of computers have become popularized. As a result, Bartholomew (2014) informs that law enforcement agents seize and search electronic devices connected to criminal investigations. While the law enforcement agent’s actions are right, they abide by various laws that govern cybercrimes. Three of the most acknowledged laws in this arena include the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), Electronic Communications Protection Act, and the Cybercrime Act of 2015 (McNicholas & Angle, 2019). These laws were instituted to prosecute cybercrimes and protect communication data both in storage and in transit.