Jan Brass Takes a Hard Look at the Cloud

Helping Law Enforcement with the Cloud

Helping Law Enforcement with the CloudCloud technology is becoming a familiar part in the lives of both consumers and enterprises. Most tech savvy people – and even many who are not – are aware of applications offering cloud storage, cloud backups, photo sharing, instant messaging, etc., all of which depend upon the cloud in some form or another. Since most individuals now own more than one device (which may include multiple smart phones, tablets and computers) it is hard to find any app – games, music, messengers or productivity tools – that does not sync data using the cloud.

Cloud technology has affected businesses even more profoundly, giving them the ability to scale quickly, be flexible, and get started on a new project at a moment’s notice. A number of organizations are closing down internal data centers in favor of the cloud even as software companies transition to a subscription model of delivering software as a service rather than selling individual program licenses. Even traditionally conservative industries like banking and the financial sector are moving towards cloud technology.

In addition to having a huge impact on the above areas, cloud technology is also helping law enforcement agencies catch criminals. Given the increasing ubiquity of smart devices that the fact that they are also expensive, device and data theft is becoming more common. Before, losing a phone simply meant replacing the phone and number, even if it involved considerable expenses. Now that more people are storing data on their smart phones, lost devices are more of a problem than ever before. A smart phone can contain banking passwords, sensitive information, confidential pictures, and so much more.

Fortunately, the very technology that is helping consumers and businesses store more data on phones and tablets is also helping police departments track down criminals. The majority of iOS and Android devices now come with backup software that continuously stores pictures, messages, call history and other data in the cloud. In addition, every time the phone connects to a cell tower or Wi-Fi network, its presence is registered and logged. This means that authorities are able to track thieves – sometimes even in real-time – and recover devices, provided the victim reports the theft immediately.

Both Google and Apple provide specific applications that are intended to help device owners trace their devices in case they have misplaced them. Once they are activated with the correct settings, the apps continue to track the device after it is stolen. Even if the criminals turn off the phone, there is a high probability that the last location from which the transmission was received has been logged somewhere in the cloud. Police officers can then work from there to apprehend the criminals.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cloud technology and law enforcement. Police departments often struggle with handling large databases filled with data about criminals, crimes, complaints etc. With the appropriate security measures in place, authorities can easily move these databases to the cloud to help them coordinate more effectively across county and state lines.

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