Authors: Josiah Dykstra, Ph.D. (National Security Agency) and Alan Sherman



We describe the design, implementation, and evaluation of FROST — three new forensic tools for the OpenStack cloud platform. Our implementation for the OpenStack cloud platform supports an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud and provides trustworthy forensic acquisition of virtual disks, API logs, and guest firewall logs. Unlike traditional acquisition tools, FROST works at the cloud management plane rather than interacting with the operating system inside the guest virtual machines, thereby requiring no trust in the guest machine. We assume trust in the cloud provider, but FROST overcomes nontrivial challenges of remote evidence integrity by storing log data in hash trees and returning evidence with cryptographic hashes. Our tools are user-driven, allowing customers, forensic examiners, and law enforcement to conduct investigations without necessitating interaction with the cloud provider. We demonstrate how FROST’s new features enable forensic investigators to obtain forensically-sound data from OpenStack clouds independent of provider interaction. Our preliminary evaluation indicates the ability of our approach to scaling in a dynamic cloud environment. The design supports an extensible set of forensic objectives, including the future addition of other data preservation, discovery, real-time monitoring, metrics, auditing, and acquisition capabilities.