Connected physical devices, home automation appliances, and wearable devices are all part of Internet of Things (IoT). All of these have two major things in common that is seamless connectivity and massive data transfer. This also brings with it, plenty of opportunities for massive data breaches and allied cyber security threats.
The motive of digital forensics is to identify, collect, analyse, and present digital evidence collected from various mediums in a cybercrime incident. The multiplication of IoT devices and the increased number of cyber security incidents has given birth to IoT forensics.
IoT forensics is a branch of digital forensics which deals with IoT-related cybercrimes and includes investigation of connected devices, sensors and the data stored on all possible platforms. If you look at the bigger picture, IoT forensics is a lot more complex, multifaceted and multidisciplinary in approach than traditional forensics.
With versatile IoT devices, there is no specific method of IoT forensics that can be broadly used.So identifying valuable sources is a major challenge. The entire investigation will depend on the nature of the connected or smart device in place. For example, evidence could be collected from fixed home automation sensors, or moving automobile sensors, wearable devices or data store on Cloud.
When compared to the standard digital forensic techniques, IoT forensics portrays multiple challenges depending on the versatility and complexity of the IoT devices. Following are some challenges that one may face in an investigation:
- Variance of the IoT devices
- Proprietary Hardware and Software
- Data present across multiple devices and platforms
- Data can be updated, modified, or lost
- Proprietary jurisdictions for data is stored on cloud or a different geography
As such, IoT Forensics requires a multi-faceted approach where evidence can be collected from various sources. We can categorize sources of evidence into three broad groups:
- Smart devices and sensors; Gadgets present at the crime scene (Smartwatch, home automation appliances, weather control devices, and more)
- Hardware and Software; the communication link between smart devices and the external world (computers, mobile, IPS, and firewalls)
- External resources; areas outside the network unders investigation (Cloud, social networks, ISPs and mobile network providers)
Once the evidence is successfully collected from an IoT device no matter the file system, operating system, or the platform it is based on, it should be logged and monitored. The main reason behind this is IoT devices data storage are majorly on Cloud due to its scalability and accessibility. There are high possibilities the data on Cloud can be altered which would result to an investigation failure. No doubt Cloud forensics can equally play an important role here but strengthening cyber security best practices should be the ideal motive.
With ever evolving IoT devices there will always be a need for unique practice methods and techniques to break through the investigation. Cybercrime keeps evolving and getting bolder by the day. Forensics experts will have to develop skill sets to deal with the variety and complexity of IoT devices to keep up with this evolution. No matter the challenges one faces there is always a unique solution to complex problems. There will always be a need for unique, intelligent, and adaptable techniques to investigate IoT-related crimes and an even greater need for those displaying these capabilities.