As ever more data is stored in the cloud, law enforcement organisations are increasingly pivoting in the same direction during the course of their investigations. Here, Nadia Doughty explores the advantages of the cloud when it comes to Data Retention
We’ve all surely experienced the sinking feeling you get when you lose an important document that you’ve been working on. The initial disbelief, followed by despair, annoyance and frustration in short order.
The same thing happened to me the other day. I’d been working on something for a couple of hours when a laptop failure rendered its screen dormant and my document lost for evermore – or so I thought. I soon realised, however, that because I’d been using a cloud based application, the document had automatically been saved and I was soon able to retrieve it. Cue a sweeping mix of relief and exultation.
This experience – while not good for my blood pressure – did, however, offer a vivid reminder of the usefulness and ubiquity of today’s connected world.
Many of these services are provided for in the cloud and delivered across the internet through use of Communications Service Provider networks, whether mobile or broadband. The adoption of public cloud in particular – enabling much broader access and coverage – is on the increase.
For example, did you know that some of the most popular transport, music and social media apps on your phone all deposit their data not on your device but in the cloud? Communication Service Providers themselves, too, can call on a raft of benefits if they turn to the cloud. In a competitive and fast-moving market, its ability to enable rapid experimentation means it is quicker to get new capability live.
Then there’s better cost control as Cloud Providers can show them what is paid for, which allows organisations to measure and apportion costs accurately. Cloud also gives organisations greater flexibility when it comes to handling unknown changes – such as the coming 5G revolution – while taking solace in the fact there have been no major hardware failures to report.
The increasing prominence of cloud doesn’t stop there. Law enforcement and government organisations are increasingly reliant on accessing cloud-based computers to crunch data during the course of their investigations. So, how does this work in practice?
Regulatory Data Retention is the legal requirement that obligates Communication Service Providers to provide access to data in a way that complies with regulations and makes effective law enforcement investigations possible.
Under this system, Communication Service Providers are obliged to disclose information to law enforcement. Having previously used an on-premises solution, they now increasingly use public cloud to assist law enforcement organisations with their enquiries.
This reflects the reassuring fact that cloud, if designed and overseen correctly, is more secure than more traditional storage facilities because of all the security tools available to help set up and monitor such systems. It’s also more flexible – allowing the service to match changing needs and data volumes in a dynamic market.
And as my colleague, Oliver Dammone, has rightly pointed out, the trend towards public cloud has also been helped by the fact that technology – and the impact of the pandemic on working practices – have helped fuel a shift amongst those organisations, including law enforcement, which use secure data.
Even those with protectively marked networks are increasingly seeking to implement a new operating architecture by sharing operations between their secure ‘high-side’ systems and one of lower security classification where users have access to a broader range of new digital technologies.
But even without these wider trends at play, the bottom line is that cloud offers an enticing allure of benefits to organisations large and small. While data volumes are prompting businesses to turn to the cloud in pursuit of greater efficiencies, cloud is now taking firm (virtual) root within law enforcement too.
Of course, when it comes to different applications and control over process, policy and skills, there are still arguments against private vs public cloud vs hybrid (which is a mix of the two). But the main thing to remember is that cloud-based services are accessible all over the world.
Actually, come to think of it, I’m not writing this piece on a cloud-based application.
*Manually clicks “save”.*
About the author
Nadia Doughty is a Technical Pre-Sales Consultant with BAE Systems Applied Intelligence
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