For the past decade, there has been observed a significant increase of threats to information posed by cybercriminals. The evolution of technology is the greatest contributor to this global predicament. In response to this problem, the United States government and other global organizations have made large investments in cybersecurity research to solve the situation. This paper discusses the efficiency of real-time forensics as an emerging cyber security technology. Its effectiveness will be highlighted alongside its way of operation. The paper also seeks to establish its feasibility compared to other cyber security technologies. In addition, the role of the United States government and some private sectors will be discussed.
Constant technological advancements and the evolution of Internet have fostered the increase of global cybercrimes. Every day, cybercrimes are enhanced as attackers come up with new ways to breach into networks and get access to unauthorized information. This has prompted public and private sectors at the international, national and local levels to increase funding and support for specialists to advance in studies regarding emerging cyber security technologies. Clearly, information confidentiality is being rapidly violated and there is a need for intervention through appropriate cybercrime technology.
If proper measures are not taken, most networks will be compromised and mitigating the effects of the cyber-attacks will be difficult (Post, 2009). Consequently, there is a need for investment in emerging cybersecurity threats to come up with effective security technology to prevent and mitigate the effects of cyber-attacks. This paper seeks to establish the credibility of real-time forensic analysis in preventing the emerging cybersecurity threats.
By mentioning real-time forensic analysis, one may perceive the latter as forensic science. In this security measure, there is no DNA or biometric analysis. Rather, there is full utilization of intelligent systems to trace the flow of data within a breached system. One may wonder how this works or how effective it is in the field of cybersecurity. It is wise to note that once a hacker gets access to a system and collects desired information, they will most likely delete the log files or any evidence that would show the system was hacked in the first place. When this happens, chances of capturing the culprit will be lesser and it might not happen at all. Nevertheless, with real-time forensics, it is much easier. Research on this security method started a few years ago but has advanced in the last three years (Kramer, Star, & Wentz, 2009). This is due to the development of software technology and intelligent security systems,
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The most common class of real-time forensics is network forensics. A lot of studies are being developed in this field since most of the cybercrimes concern networks. Initially, hackers used individual networks that they actually created by means of their hardware. For instance, they could utilize a cellphone linking the targeted system via Bluetooth. Nonetheless, with the evolution of the Internet, most hackers have shifted to this network platform. In addition, technological advancements have made hacking easier as setting up wireless networks is an easy thing to do. Network forensics deals with the monitoring of computer network traffic for the purpose of intrusion detection, legal information gathering or security (Reddy & Reddy, 2014). Network forensics, unlike other forms of digital forensics is more dynamic and volatile. In case of network traffic is lost during transmission, real-time network forensics makes it easier to trace the lost information. Similarly, when there is unauthorized access to data, the latter contributes to the investigation process.
Application of this form of technology can be utilized in different scenarios. For instance, monitoring a network for an anomaly in traffic and identifying intrusions. As stated earlier, cybersecurity attackers target information skillfully. After obtaining the required information, they erase any traces of hacking. This makes it difficult to detect any form of system breach (Sammons, 2012). Nonetheless, network forensics is not targeted to face the problem after it happens. In other words, it gives provision for detecting cybercrimes before they even happen. Intelligent systems can be programmed in a way that they only accept information being transmitted through a particular traffic. If only designated people in a network are granted access to particular information, the system issues an alert when a foreign user is detected. This helps to regulate unauthorized access to information and any form of system breaching.
Additionally, network forensics has made it possible to evaluate cybercriminal threats legally. According to Baase (2012), when files are transmitted within a network, intelligent systems can be installed to validate the data being transmitted. Thorough analysis of the data is carried out and the information generated is stored in a particular log. Patterns are generated with regard to how information is transferred and accessed by the system. Once an anomaly is detected, the system administrators are alerted. Actions are then taken and the threat is neutralized. This is made possible through different approach methods which include brute force attack or a more intelligent listening method. Regardless of the method used, the outcome is most likely similar. The difference lies in the time required to complete the process. Depending on the urgency of the network forensic or the desired outcomes, evaluation of the initialization process is essential.
Computer forensics on the other hand mainly deals with the evaluation of computer hardware to determine any form of cybercrime. According to Braman (2006), after any form of cyber-attack involving access to information from a solid-state disk or a hard drive, the evidence is usually preserved on the disk even after information is deleted. Network data is unpredictable and more volatile. In case no success is attained in the evaluation of any form of system breach, this method can be used. It includes the use of a complex algorithm to generate erased log files from the disk. This aspect of real-time forensics distinguishes it from normal data recovery methods. Unlike the methods used in data recovery, there is no alteration to the hardware. Most of the work is done by software and intelligently programmed systems. Consequently, incorporation of the patterns generated from previous researches to the system can help in preventing future crimes.
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How It Works
Real-time forensic analysis utilizes real-time data processing method. What is real-time data processing? It is a processing method where information is processed and acquired from a network and immediate feedback is given after a particular operation. This is an advantageous method of processing since operations can be conducted from any geographical position only if the user is in a similar network. This makes it possible for agents to work remotely and more efficiently. Since the data is processed through one network, the system is relatively faster. Data is broken down into sections during the analysis making it easier for the intelligent system to access and process information in a sensible way. Since data is processed and immediate feedback is received by the system administrators, it is easy to detect any form of anomaly resulting from unauthorized information access.
In addition to the processing method, real-time forensic analysis implies using a unique form of computer hardware. According to Lillard (2010), the systems utilize powerful hardware as well as advanced software due to the nature of work they do. Unlike other security systems which process only required information and issue an alert in case of any abnormality in the processing sequence, this security method evaluates the processing methods and generates algorithms from the resultant data. Once the information is generated, it is stored within the system for easy and direct retrieval. In general, the information stored is used in the processing cycle to detect any form of security threat. In simple terms, this system can be described as dynamic. This gives it an upper hand over the normal systems which utilize static processing methods. The hardware used includes central point computers and powerful network providing systems.
As stated earlier, the real-time analysis by means of forensic systems is used to detect cybercrimes before and after they happen. How is this possible? Ziini argues that the systems utilize their capacity to learn the patterns in a network to determine system intrusion (Ziini & Klotz, 2009). According to recent study, real-time forensic analysis attained a 60 percent success rate in anticipating intrusions from pre-generated information. Nonetheless, this aspect is disadvantageous to the system. Supposing a hacker carries out his operations in a way that the system already recognizes, it is hard for the system to detect this as an intrusion. This led to the optimization of software that was used in such systems in the past three years. It is difficult to project the success rate of the enhanced systems. However, one can be certain that the systems will attain formidable success compared to other systems. This can be achieved only if proper investments are made to cybersecurity; real-time forensics in particular.
If the intrusion has already occurred, the systems have the intelligence to trace the events in the network. Certainly, network information is very dynamic and unpredictable. The fact that most of the information transferred by means of a network is in an encrypted form makes it difficult to interpret. Nonetheless, real-time forensic systems are made to solve this problem. Regardless of the complexity of the format information is transferred to within the network, the system has the capacity to decrypt information. However, this process makes the system relatively slower in preventing cybercrimes. It is prudent to note that although this exercise is time consuming, advancement in technology can make it more time-efficient. The current researches seek to establish a feasible way to optimize the speed of information processing within the systems. If these studies lead to success, this method will definitely gain popularity in the future (Reddy & Reddy, 2014).
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System Application and Implementation
Application of this system is effective in rapid classification of malicious activity (Reddy & Reddy, 2014). In a network, not all processes are authorized within the traffic. In case of unauthorized material within the network, it is classified as malicious activity. Manual systems can do an equally great job in the determination of harmful material in the network. Nevertheless, they are relatively slower, which makes them lesser efficient. Alternatively, through implementation of real-time forensic activity, the process is relatively faster. This can help organizations to prevent malicious attacks in an instant. Consequently, neutralization of such threats enhances the success rate of a firm. According to Post (2009), organizations which have implanted this security method have a greater chance of success than those who utilize manual systems. Arguably, organizations should implement this method to achieve greater success in corporate and security operations.
Many organizations find it difficult to monitor their traffic systems. In most cases, the systems used are expensive and barely yield expected results. It is more rational to implement feasible and more effective systems. Real-time forensic systems are very useful in achieving the formidable success required for the analysis of network traffic. Not only does the system monitor the network traffic, but it also analyzes the information generated in the process. This makes the system more effective compared to normal monitoring systems. With its application, the information generated from the analysis of the network information can be used in case of potential cybercriminal activities. While evaluating the feasibility of this system, we can determine that it is more economical and effective than the normal network traffic monitors. Based on the principle of feasibility and effectiveness, organizations should implement real-time forensics as their network traffic analysis systems.
Cybercriminal activities are continuously on the rise. There is a need to neutralize the threats posed by the cyber culture activities. Consequently, real-time forensic analysis systems can be used to complement other cybersecurity systems. The main goal of cyber security systems is to neutralize threats to information posed by cyber criminals. As a result, implementation of this system as an additional security system strengthens the defensive strategy of an organization. It makes it possible for a firm to detect any anomaly in the system before the cybersecurity threats actually take place. The main question is how organizations are going to implement this system parallel to other systems. The process is not as difficult as it may seem. The information gathered by other cyber security technology mechanisms can be incorporated in the information system. Through extensive analysis of the information provided, it is possible for the organization to prevent similar threats much easier. Consequently, implementation of real-time forensics alongside other systems is equally effective.
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In addition to complementing other forms of cyber security technologies, real-time forensics can be effectively used on its own. Recent studies have revealed that real-time forensics can lead to a success if implemented as a primary cybersecurity method in an organization. Consequently, it is imperative for organizations to implement this method as the primary security measure. First, it is more feasible than most alternative security measures. For organizations that value minimum expenditure for maximum efficiency implantation of this method is a resourceful alternative. Not only is this method effective in detecting cyber-criminal activities after they happen, but also determine system intrusion prior to the attack (Kramer, Star, & Wentz, 2009). Consequently, implementation of this security method is very effective. Organizations should consider incorporation of this security mechanism to make the most out of their investment. Critically arguing, it is more rational to implement a system that caters for more than one security threat. Real-time forensics is the most influential alternative.
Real-time forensics is an important tool for an organization devising a strategic security plan. As stated earlier, information confidentiality is essential for the success of an organization in corporate activities. However, cybercriminal activities pose an imminent threat to the success of the organization by breaching information systems. Nonetheless, since real-time forensic system gathers the required information and generates patterns necessary for the analysis, an organization is in a better position of learning on the basis of the weaknesses of their own security system. After knowing the flaws of the system and the cybersecurity threats it is exposed to, it is easier for the organization to devise an influential security plan based on its weaknesses. Supposedly this happens, the security plan created will be more effective and capable of neutralizing most of the security threats the organization is exposed to. Consequently, we can argue that real-time forensic analysis is an influential tool in devising effective security plans.
On the other hand, information acquired from real-time forensics can be used to strengthen the security systems. Most hackers use a brute force attack to gain access to a network or information in a particular platform. The forensic analysis systems constantly monitor network traffics within an organization. Arguably, the vulnerabilities of the system are highlighted in the real-time forensic analysis system. This is very advantageous to the organization as they can use the latter for their own benefit (Sammons, 2012). Once a weak point is detected in the system, the organization’s specialists take responsibility for rectifying the bugs in the system with an aim of enhancing the system performance. Using this initiative, the organization will be at a lesser risk of encountering cybercriminal threats. Additionally, the firm will be in a better position of staying away from any form of future damaging information.
Real-World Application of Real-time Forensics
Real-time forensics is a new cybersecurity method and has not been used for a long time. It is still under discussion though it is being used in some corporate fields. The banking industry effectively utilizes this system. According to Reddy and Reddy (2014), banks are the most targeted areas of cybercriminal activities. As a result, incorporation of these systems is a form of defensive mechanism for the financial institutions. In most cases, the real-time monitoring system database is located in a different geographical position from the bank. In case the bank has many branches which have a close proximity to one another, the systems are linked to the central processing terminal. This enhances the security of information stored in the central intelligent system. The log files are stored in the central terminal and can be accessed by the real-time forensic agents when the need arises.
Once an anomaly is detected in the banking facility, the agents are alerted and an immediate report is generated with regard to the information gathered. The intelligent system then tries to generate information about the node accessing unauthorized information. Once this information is successfully gathered, the culprit can be easily identified. In extreme cases, when the system is breached, system analysts have to revisit the information gathered by the system and try to find out useful information that can be used to locate the attacker. In many cases, the investigation process does not get this far due to the effectiveness of the intelligent systems used in the banking facilities to detect cybercriminal activities. Finally, real-time forensic activities can be conducted using banking hardware in case illegal access to the database was done within the organization and not through an external network.
Information Security Systems
Information databases constantly face the threat of cybercriminal activities. When this happens, a lot of information is at stake. Hackers mainly engage in such activities to incriminate the credibility of the information security systems and deter people from investing in the organizations. As a result, information security systems have recently started adopting this system to enhance their security. Clearly, the system is more credible than other security systems and is more likely to lead to a greater success. The systems are set up to monitor data access within the network and ensure that all the users accessing the information are verified. Owing this system, there has been observed a significant decline in the cases of unauthorized information access or security breaches in the information security system (Baase, 2012). With this system, it is easier to establish the credibility of real-time forensics as a cybercriminal security measure. Even though it is an emerging security trend, it has shown incredible performance in the security sector and is projected to achieve greater success in future.
Social Media Network
Privacy in social media has become a trending issue recently. With the rapid evolution of the Internet, many people have opted to join social media platforms as a way of sharing information and being connected to the trending issues in the globe. However, these platforms have fostered cybercriminal activities. Hackers have devised skillful ways of soliciting information from ignorant social media users and using it against them. For instance, in 2012, approximately 200,000 people were asked for credit card information from social media platforms (Reddy & Reddy, 2014). In many cases, once such information is acquired from a social media user, they end up being robbed of finances on their bank accounts. Nonetheless, some of the social media platforms have incorporated real-time forensic systems to trace the genesis of such cybercrimes. Owing this security measure, the social media platforms are in a better position to determine similar cybersecurity threats and counter them before they are committed.
Most people find it convenient to store valuable information in a data bank. On the other hand, cybercriminals find it convenient to access information stored in the data bank illegally (Braman, 2006). Most people have a belief that only important information is stored in such organizations. Consequently, the information of these institutions is at a greater threat in terms of cybercrimes. However, this problem is gradually being solved with the implementation of real-time forensic analysis. Previously, enhancing the firewall was the most appropriate security measure that organizations took. This yielded influential results though it did not completely eliminate the threat. However, real-time forensics is in a better position of securing data banking facilities from this threat. The security measures taken by the security systems are superior to those initially applied in the facilities.
Cloud service providers face similar cybersecurity threats as data banks. This has led to cloud storage service providers devising some security measures to enforce confidentiality of the information stored in the cloud. However, by means of brute force attacks or special cracking software, hackers and crackers have come up with skillful ways of doing away with such security measures (Sammons, 2012). Nonetheless, real-time forensics is slowly neutralizing these threats. Unlike other security measures, real-time forensics guarantees service providers that they have influential tools to counter such threats. Using this method, cloud service providers will be in a better position of neutralizing the threats posed by cyber attackers. Through research activities, the security mechanisms used in this method will make it easier for cloud and other service providers to counter cybercriminal attackers.
Benefits of Government Support
Who funds cybersecurity projects and research? Rather, why is there funding at all? It is worth noting the threats hypercritical pose to information confidentiality before arriving at a proper answer to the question. In the United States, the development and research budget is highly classified. The group with the responsibility of funding the exercise is the National Security Agency commonly referred to as NSA (Kramer, Star, & Wentz, 2009). In the funding exercise, the priorities of the group must be in accordance with those of the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development popularly referred to as NITRD. However, NSA has additional priorities and does not have to perfectly match its objectives with those of NITRD. Through financial and academic funding, the interest parties are able to engage in resourceful research after the provision of the required facilities. The success of the project is given the top priority. This implies that NSA does everything to ensure the projects are a success.
In addition, the Department of Homeland Security plays a significant role in ensuring the cybersecurity projects are well funded. As mentioned earlier, information confidentiality is given top priority during the entire project. Homeland Security is responsible for maintaining home security in the United States including prevention of cybercriminal activities. The National Science Foundation is equally engaged in enhancing information security (Zinni & Klotz, 2009). These groups heavily invest in preventing cyber criminal activities as they form the genesis of most of the crimes in the United States and other parts of the world. This explains why a lot of investments are being made by the central government as well as private sectors to finally bring cybersecurity issues to an end. What would happen if there was no funding at all in regard to this issue? The aftermath would be detrimental. In fact, the effects are so clear that the involved sectors cannot risk gambling on the issue.
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Additionally, NSA utilizes the assistance of the Cooperative Research and Development Agreements to foster development relationships. By doing so, it is much easier for the NSA to raise the required funds without any inconveniences. Real-time forensics is an innovative field of cybersecurity and it requires a lot of study to make it succeed. Actions of the NSA and other interest groups put the organization into a better position of realizing its objectives. Through funding and provision of the materialistic support needed, the government is nurturing an age of freedom from cybersecurity threats. Arguably, if threats posed to information were nonexistent, then the percentage of the total crimes in the United States would have fallen by 40 percent. Lillard (2010) argues that most of the major crimes in the United States and other parts of the world are a result of leaked information. By making efforts to enhance research on real-time forensics, the world is in a better position of eliminating cybersecurity threats.
Due to the increasing importance in the field of cybersecurity, funding has shifted from just elementary forms of technology. Currently, the government and other interest parties provide funding for training, development of methodologies and extensive intelligence research. This explains why there are many emerging trends in cybersecurity. With the current trends in advancement of the technological intelligence used for eliminating most of the cyber-criminal activities, one can easily predict an end of this problem if the same pace is maintained. However, that assumption is difficult to ascertain due to the ever-growing intelligence of hackers thanks to advancement in technology. Nonetheless, participation of the United States government has been very helpful in the advancement of research on real-time forensics and other forms of cybersecurity measures.
Drawbacks of Government Support
In fact, the United States government has made a tremendous investment in the advancement of cybercriminal security. In the process, it has failed to address other security issues that need actual investigation. Intelligent theft does not necessarily have to take place in a network. Like other forms of burglary, it can be conducted openly but investigated in a wrong way. For instance, if a banking system is under attack and transactions are made without the administrator's consent, the most probable action would be to investigate the system and log files in the banking facility (GTISC & GTRI, 2013). In the process, a lot of time and energy might be wasted. In some cases, the culprit might not even be found. This makes the whole investigation unsuccessful and not worth any praise. The government should try other alternative methods like raising awareness in terms of the importance of transparency. Additionally, it can offer additional incentives to those who report any form of cybercriminal activity around them.
Additionally, the government can instead impose heavy fines on cybercriminal activities to deter hackers participating in malicious activities. As many people will argue, prevention is better than cure. In this case, preventing cybersecurity threats might be effective if the total number of cyber-criminal activities in the globe is reduced. If the government makes an equal investment in this sector, there will be greater reduction in the number of cybercriminal activities compared to the current statistics (Post, 2009). As much as the government makes large investments in this sector, it is important to make equal investments in other forms of cyber security technologies. Arguably, real-time forensics cannot completely neutralize cybersecurity threats. However, if further research is done on other alternatives, there will be a greater chance of reducing the threats posed to information confidentiality.
Indeed, real-time forensic analysis is an effective cyber security technology that is likely to revolutionize people’s perception of cybercriminal activity. Its service delivery is exemplary and quite promising. With its implementation to organizations facing cybersecurity threats, there will be a greater chance of solving the problem. Unlike other security measures, this system has a better rationale and more effective approach to eliminating the threats posed to information. Beyond any doubt, I support the funding of this project and any further research aimed at enhancing its effectiveness. I propose that the government should make this system more accessible to the public and I support campaign for its implementation. It is imperative that organizations that are targets of cybercriminal activities get access to this innovative technology. Realization of the full potential of this innovative cybersecurity measure can take place only if the government and other interest parties work towards making it a success.
Real-World Application Examples
Many firms use cloud computing, as the services offered are cost-efficient and convenient to the users. As cloud computing usage has risen since 2012, it is likely that there will be more security breaches that may pose a threat even to forensic analysis. Consequently, there is need for implementation of better cyber security techniques to eliminate such threats. Cloud security will most effectively be enhanced if advanced forensic systems are implemented. Emphasis can no longer be put on protection of the systems. Rather, there should be a better protection of information as it is targeted more. Currently, there is observed the emergence of new platforms for sharing information. The smartphone revolution has brought about even greater complexity in the field of cybersecurity (Braman, 2006). There is dire need for an effective system capable of countering these threats. The best solution is implementation of real-time forensic analysis.
Efficiency of these systems cannot be maintained without government participation. The national government should ensure that the cybersecurity measures are implemented encompassing the needs of common citizens not only the central government. It should also support user education so that citizens become more aware of the type of security system protecting them. Enhancing public awareness is the best way to ensure that the public makes a full contribution to the success of this project. This can only be achieved if the government ensures the public is fully aware of what is going on. Ignorance greatly contributes to the growth of cybersecurity threats. Actions taken by the government to enhance public awareness are a way of eradicating ignorance and fostering knowledge. As a result, we should all contribute to enhancing the success of this project.
Cybercrimes are greatly affecting the globe in many aspects. Threats to information confidentiality are aggressively spreading and there is a need for the development of sophisticated approaches to solve the issue under discussion. Many institutions, public or private, face the same threat. In short, we all share a common goal; elimination of cybercrimes around the globe. There is no definite way to ensure that this happens as soon as possible. However, what we can be certain of is the fact that if there is unity amongst the public and private sectors and effective alliances are formed, there will be a greater chance of solving the issue. Real-time forensic analysis is just among the many emerging technologies with the potential of making a revolution in the field of cybercrime. Consequently, the entire globe should work jointly to enhance the development of research in emerging cyber security technologies which will counter the spread of cybercriminal activities.