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Student discussion (TiTo): What do you see as the two most significant challenges of cloud computing facing digital forensics? What are potential ways to handle these challenges? Several states have adopted a licensure requirement in order to practice digital forensics as an investigator as a means to establish minimum competency requirements. What do you see the role of education playing in digital forensics? What critical success factors contribute to overall investigator competence?

Conventional knowledge points out that education are critical for success in any field; this stems from the fact that education provides the basic knowledge required to execute tasks related to that profession. As Clarke (2010) points out, formal education offers the minimum requirements as regards to the skills set for performing the tasks relating to that profession. Since the role of formal education is to set out the minimum skills requirements, it plays an integral role in licensing or certification of any individual for any profession; this forms the main focus of Tito’s discussion. I concur with this view in the sense that formal education plays an instrumental role in ensuring that professionals in a given field have a common set of skills required, which ensures standardization among practitioners such as digital forensics. The limitation of education, particularly in dynamic professions such as computer related disciplines, is that it tends to lag behind the advancements in technology and methodology. For instance, data storage technologies of the 1970s are completely different from the present day data storage technologies; therefore, a computer professional should constantly update his/her knowledge base in order to remain relevant in the industry (Brenner, 2007). This is a critical point raised in the discussion by Tito in the sense that it highlights the gap in the formal education in addressing advances in technology.

In relation to the critical success factors for investigators’ competence, Tito’s discussion only highlights one point, which entails having a mentor to guide and correct the investigator. There are other critical success factors that the discussion did not explore yet they are critical in ensuring investigator competence. They include: the investigator’s ability to manage, interpret and analyze forensic evidence, establish a sequence of events from the evidence gathered, and the investigator’s competency with regard to controlling and preserving the scene. In general, Tito’s discussion highlights 2 vital points regarding the role that education plays digital forensics: (a) formal educations spells out the minimum licensing requirements though it has a limitation of lagging behind the advancements in methods and technology; and (b) formal education tends to be more specific, which guarantees that standardization among practitioners. Nevertheless, Tito should have conducted more research regarding the critical success factors for ensuring the competence of investigators (Brenner, 2007).

Student discussion (Ines): How might Link and Visual Analysis tools be incorporated into a digital forensics environment to make investigations more effective? What other non-DF tools may also improve the effectiveness of a digital forensics investigation?

It is undeniable that link and visual analysis plays a vital role in helping an investigator analyze evidence and ensure that it is admissible in a court of law. The focus of this discussion was how link and visual analysis can be incorporated into the digital forensics environment; however, the discussion by Ines deviates from this requirements and details the reasons (why), rather than the methods (how) that facilitate the integration of link and visual analysis in the digital forensics environment. As Householder, Houle, & Dougherty (2002) points out, link and visual analysis can help forensic investigators to filter through investigation in order to locate evidence. This can be achieved by surveying and visualizing key structures and nodes found in a network. In addition, link and visual analysis tools can help in the exploration of huge amounts of data of different records and help in ascertaining the relationship between these records using data fields having similar or related values (Jankun-Kelly, Stamps, Wilson, Franck, Carver, & Swan, 2009). Artificial intelligence can also be used to incorporate link and visual analysis in a digital forensics environment, and can be instrumental in establishing the relationship between data records.

Ines does not mention other non-DF tools that can be used to improve the effectiveness of a forensics investigation. Perhaps, the discussion could have included aspects such as creating and implementing procedures and guidelines regarding to how forensic tasks can be executed. These guidelines should be used in clarifying the scenarios under which forensic investigations should be conducted. In addition, the procedures and guidelines should also detail the measures needed to protect sensitive data and evidence.

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