For years I have preached to police, military and private investigators, “The cell phone! The cell phone! It’s the key to your investigations!”  Now I’m having to update that statement to “The CLOUD! Look for the dude’s CLOUD!”

“The Cloud? What’s a Cloud?”  Glad you asked. In the simplest way I can state it, the “Cloud” is where your data can be stored away from your phone, but easily retrievable once you connect your phone to it via the internet.  Like Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Dropbox, Box, Rackspace, etc.  These are data storage places that hold your data for you.  Sorta like a storage building you rent or use to hold stuff you don’t have room for in your house or garage.

For a brief listing of some, see here: http://www.thetop10bestonlinebackup.com/cloud-storage

Courtesy ebonstorm.wordpress.com

Courtesy ebonstorm.wordpress.com

The “Cloud” is not something brand new. It’s been with us for a while but not until the last few years have we heard the “Cloud” term used so popularly.  And, the Cloud is NOT going anywhere.  It’s growing by leaps and bounds.

And if you don’t think the “bad guys” know about this technology, think again.  The Cloud is a great place for the criminal to store his/her records, naughty pics, videos and other data he/she does not want the Poe Poe to see on their phone at a traffic stop.  Couple this storage service with a high end iPhone or Android device and you have your office and data right at your fingertips 24/7  anywhere you have an internet connection.

So how do you apply all this to your investigations? Well, let me offer some tips:

1. If you’re a Police Investigator:  include the “Cloud” in your search warrants. Look for icons on the suspect’s computers and phones that are storage services.  Ask the suspect in your interviews if they have a gmail account or other “Cloud” type services.  (BTW:  You’d be amazed at what you can find out simply by asking!).

2. If you’re a Private Investigator:  if you have legal access to the subject’s credit card statements, look for any “Cloud” services they are paying for.  HINT: any large amount of data storage by a third party service is going to cost.  Free Cloud services are available, but if you’re investigating a die-hard pedophile that stores a lot of pics and videos, they will need more than 5 GB of storage space.  Same goes in the white-collar field as well.

No matter what type of investigation you are conducting…LOOK FOR THE CLOUD!

As you can see in this video, the Personal Cloud is here and growing:  http://scobleizer.com/2013/08/30/here-comes-the-age-of-the-personal-cloud/

As one very noted Digital Forensics Expert, Dr. Clayton Boswell, once predicted:  in the future, the phone is going to be more of a conduit than a storage device.  The “Cloud” will be the main source for the operating system and memory.  I concur.  In fact, it’s already started…ever heard of the Chrome computer?

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