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Advertorial: cloud-based inquiries

Key things law enforcement agencies should consider before moving investigative workflows to the cloud.

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

Date - 2nd December 2021
By - Todd Bailey

The cloud offers a tremendous opportunity for law enforcement both as a potential source of information and as a transformative resource for housing investigative workflows. And with evidence retention, security, and safeguarding a key concern across all agencies, moving to the cloud can provide higher levels of security and retention than on-site solutions. Most importantly, moving to the cloud optimizes processes resulting in what we’re all looking for – an accelerated case resolution time.

That said, transitioning investigative workflows to the cloud takes careful consideration and a solid game plan. The good news is that the technology exists to make this transition very doable.

The growth of digital devices and the volumes of data they hold have caused a complete paradigm shift in the way agencies approach digital intelligence in their investigations. Today we’re dealing with huge amounts of information. Agencies have an acute need for data sharing both within their own departments and with other agencies. The world is indeed changing and it’s forcing agencies to manage investigations in a new way.

Transitioning Workflows to the Cloud

Compared to the way digital evidence is presently handled across many agencies, securing data in the cloud offers increased access control, auditability, and a stronger chain of custody.

The technology is certainly there to assist, but a number of things need to be considered before agencies take their first step.

Data Security: To successfully transform workflows to the cloud, agency managers need to start by asking some key questions: Who has access to my data? Is my data encrypted in transit and at rest? Who controls those keys? Where is my data stored and does it align with local regulatory requirements (i.e. does the data need to physically reside within my country)? Has my cloud vendor demonstrated a commitment to security by meeting industry-standard compliance frameworks. And which security level is most relevant to my agency from those followed by SOC2, ISO, and GovCloud? Considering these key questions up front will help ensure you are deploying a secure cloud solution.

Data Transfer: Today’s devices are capable of holding far more data than devices of even a year or two ago. A single investigator case can involve terabytes of data that must be carefully managed and analyzed to produce actionable intelligence.  Based on your upload/download capacity, you will have to examine your strategy and what you store in the cloud, and may want to start the steps to increase your capacity in the long term. 

Processes: This is a crucial consideration. When you consider moving your workflow to the cloud, you must also think about all the processes that currently enable your workflow to run, such as access control, submission, retention, auditability, and forging a bulletproof  chain of custody. Moving to the cloud changes everything, so your standard operating procedures must be adjusted accordingly. Working with a partner who can advise you on this is always beneficial.

Digital Evidence Management: When you begin talking about moving to the cloud, you must consider digital evidence management – once you put digital evidence collected from phones and computers in the cloud, you will have to manage it with a system that you might not even have today. This is where advice and solutions from outside experts like Cellebrite can help.

The pace of this transition to the cloud is undeniable and accelerating. According to a recent report by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, more than half of global agencies today use or are considering using the cloud—and with good reason. The cloud supports law enforcement agencies by:

  • Protecting and managing data securely
  • Bolstering operational efficiency
  • Increasing investigatory effectiveness
  • Tracking criminal activity rigorously
  • Reducing agency costs
  • Decreasing infrastructure needs
  • Streamlining the ability to cross-collaborate and share digital evidence

With data overload and digital evidence growing exponentially, retention policies becoming stricter, and the demand for monitoring and auditability increasing, transitioning workflows to the cloud, while implementing data security solutions for the new age of investigations could be the most effective way to set up your agency for success. Transitioning to the cloud also tends to be the most cost-effective way to resolve more cases, faster, and to keep the communities you serve safer.

About the Author: Todd Bailey recently joined Cellebrite as VP of Cloud Products. His experience in both the public and private sectors of the software industry is helping to drive cloud initiatives for the leading global Digital Intelligence company. A technology executive with over 20 years of experience, Todd previously served as Director of Product Management at TIBCO managing TIBCO Cloud Integration, supporting multiple user personas across organizations. This product gained leadership positions in both the Gartner and Forester analyst reports under his leadership. He loves the challenge in finding new solutions to complex problems, discovering innovative ways to provide a world-class user experience, and helping teams become as productive as possible.

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