Authors: Hyunji Chung, Jungheum Park, and Sangjin Lee



Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as the Amazon Echo, a smart speaker developed by Amazon, are undoubtedly great sources of potential digital evidence due to their ubiquitous use and their always-on mode of operation, constituting a human life’s black box. The Amazon Echo, in particular, plays a centric role for the cloud-based intelligent virtual assistant (IVA) Alexa developed by Amazon Lab126. The Alexa-enabled wireless smart speaker is the gateway for all voice commands submitted to Alexa. Moreover, the IVA interacts with a plethora of compatible IoT devices and third-party applications that leverage cloud resources. Understanding the complex cloud ecosystem that allows ubiquitous use of Alexa is paramount on supporting digital investigations when need raises. This paper discusses methods for digital forensics pertaining to the IVA Alexa’s ecosystem. The primary contribution of this paper consists of a new efficient approach of combining cloud-native forensics with client-side forensics (forensics for companion devices), to support practical digital investigations. Based on a deep understanding of the targeted ecosystem, we propose a proof-of-concept tool, CIFT, that supports identification, acquisition, and analysis of both native artifacts from the cloud and client-centric artifacts from local devices (mobile applications and web browsers).