Achieving Maximum Reliability with Police Body Cameras

Police Departments Around the World Wrestle with Body Camera Implementation

With police groups, city officials, and civilian rights advocates calling for more transparency in all police matters, the utility of body cameras cannot be understated. A 2014 review showed that early guilty pleas were obtained in 91% of cases where body camera footage formed part of the evidence. Officers in England interviewed after a body camera pilot program last year reported that having cameras on hand helped to de-escalate dangerous situations involving aggressive suspects.

Departments around the world are now initiating body camera programs and drafting policies in an attempt to integrate cameras into their daily patrols, arrests, and drug searches. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio recently pledged to have all 23,000 of the city’s patrol officers wearing cameras by 2019.

The trend is clear—departments are headed for full implementation. But as one might suspect with an emerging technology, there have been some growing pains around this step into the next generation of police work.

Time and Money

Two of the largest hurdles faced by departments in adopting body worn cameras are the cost of acquiring the cameras and the time needed to deal with the digital footage. Creating a proper framework and infrastructure to handle the data surge could mean bringing on more staff, or at the very least, creating new workflows to deal with the new data set.  Therein is the issue.

Many police departments are overtaxed as it is, with district attorneys working long overtime hours. One police department in Benton County, Oregon estimated if they fully adopted body cameras on all their officers, they would then be forced to screen and log over 144 hours of video footage per week. That type of need would require more man power and more money—two resources already in scarce supply.

“If we have people working beyond full-time and we’re expected to take on hours and hours of digital work,” says District Attorney John Haroldson, a Benton County, Oregon law enforcement official, “we would have to cut back proportionately the time we’re spending on our current caseloads.”

Police in Burbank, California echo this concern, adding that the cost of implementing the cameras is difficult to swallow in an era when many departments are habitually underfunded. Lt. Jay Hawver recently told the LA Times that it made no sense to request the roughly $570,000 to purchase the cameras for their precinct.

“There is no identifiable need for the cameras, zero public demand for them, and no substantive justification for this expense has ever been articulated,” he said.

Lt. Hawver may be in the minority though. Benton County Sheriff Scott Jackson recently commented that there is indeed a public outcry for body cameras, and that they serve a real purpose for more effective policing.

“As sheriff I’m really looking forward to the day my deputies are wearing body cams,” Jackson said. “It helps build transparency and answers the community concerns. I think they’re a great thing and I think the evidentiary value is great.”

Reliability

The reliability of body worn cameras is another issue that has popped up in pilot testing programs around the globe. Police officers in London’s Scotland Yard were recently called out for using unreliable technology in their initial phase of body camera tests. Some of the devices failed, with officers calling the data captured unusable. Earlier this year, in Texas, the Houston Police Department suspended its body camera testing program after having issues with its WatchGuard cameras.

In London, an investigation into the data failures found that the issues didn’t actually have to do with the cameras themselves, but rather with the logging in and out of the cameras from the department’s system. Downloading and storing the camera’s saved footage was an issue because the antiquated computer system Scotland Yard was using resulting in data losses.

Finding Solutions

While the cost of cameras is an issue that police departments and city councils around the world will have to budget for, we here at DIGISTOR know that there are solutions to data reliability so long as the right procedures are implemented. DIGISTOR offers a portfolio of solutions for reliable law enforcement data storage, including Flash-based storage for body cameras and in-car video devices.

As police departments around the world strive to implement body cameras, you can be sure that DIGISTOR will be here to find solutions that will work for them over the long term. For more information about our suite of police storage devices, visit our product page, or reach out to a DIGISTOR sales representative today.

Sources

http://www.latimes.com/socal/burbank-leader/news/tn-blr-me-body-cameras-20170523-story.html

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-39730665

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/oregon/articles/2017-05-20/body-cameras-create-unexpected-challenges-for-oregon-county

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/27/nyregion/new-york-police-department-body-cameras.html?_r=0

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California Initiates Drafting Body Camera Policy

With body camera footage becoming more and more important to cases drawing widespread national attention, police departments in California are proactively drafting policies to prepare for what they feel is an inevitable mandate – that all officers use and wear the body cameras. Most civilian and police groups agree the devices build transparency and answer the community concerns—but there are still hurdles to adopting the technology.

In Southern California, Los Angeles and Burbank police departments have begun talks with civilian oversight organizations to ensure officers use body cameras with the best possible practices.

“Our goal is to draft a policy that will be the industry standard for other organizations to come to us to have that best policy,” said Deputy Chief Mike Albanese from the Burbank Police Commission.

Though the time frame for when officers will actually begin wearing the cameras is unknown, the public assumption is that it is will happen soon.

“Everyone knows it’s coming,” Albanese said. “Whether it’s going to be mandated legislatively or from an officer-safety component, risk management component… It’s going to happen.”

The biggest obstacle to the body cameras being implemented is the cost involved and the reliability of the storage technology. Burbank looked at buying cameras in 2015 and found the price tag–$570,000—was a bit steep for council members to approve.

While the cost is an issue that police departments and city councils across the nation will have to contend with, we here at DIGISTOR know that data reliability will not be an issue so long as our practices and technologies are employed. DIGISTOR offers a portfolio of solutions for reliable law enforcement data storage, including Flash-based storage for body cameras and in-car video devices.

For more information about our suite of police storage devices, visit our product page now, or reach out to a DIGISTOR representative today.

Sources:
http://www.latimes.com/socal/burbank-leader/news/tn-blr-me-body-cameras-20170523-story.html
http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-39730665https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/oregon/articles/2017-05-20/body-cameras-create-unexpected-challenges-for-oregon-county
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/27/nyregion/new-york-police-department-body-cameras.html?_r=0

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NAND Flash Scarcity – the Roots and Effects of the Issue

Those who have kept an eye on the SSD market over the past 12 months will have noticed a rise in prices due to NAND flash shortages. NAND flash memory is the technology behind power-efficient, solid state drives (SSDs) and other storage memory found in personal computers and mobile devices.

This shortage is impacting those of us in the electronics industry in a variety of ways. Not only are prices rising, but more companies are now trying to fill the void by producing more SSD, while others are hard at work to create alternatives.

The shortage we are experiencing is due to several factors, including:

  • A difficult transition from 2D to denser 3D technology on the manufacturing side
  • Continued high demand for flash for use in smartphones, in particular, the increased storage offered by iPhone 7s
  • Heightened demand from manufacturers desiring flash storage for datacenter hardware
  • Sustained demand for PCs and notebooks, with average flash adoption in notebooks expected to exceed 30%
  • Troubles on the manufacturing side by the two of the largest producers

That final point merits a few more words. One of the largest factors that is undoubtedly contributing to the NAND shortage is Toshiba’s current financial troubles. The second largest supplier of flash memory in the global market and first company to begin producing NAND flash memory, Toshiba has struggled with the production of 3D NAND memory. Toshiba’s troubles are not, however, completely on the manufacturing side. The electronics giant recently acquired a company to build nuclear power plants in the United States—a woeful project that has resulted in accounting scandals, legal actions, and billions of dollars in debt. The upshot: Toshiba is now selling off its semiconductor/NAND memory division. We assume that bidders will include Micron Technology, SK Hynix, Broadcom Ltd, and Western Digital.

Another, more highly publicized issue has to do with the largest supplier of flash memory in the global market: Samsung. The recall of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 smartphones a few months ago have been a factor in the global scarcity, as scores of devices had to be returned and replaced in the market. Along with each of those returned devices was a flash memory unit taken off the market (at least temporarily).

The net effect of this shortage is that prices have increased to PC manufacturers. As SSD performance is now reaching mainstream consumer awareness, including these drives in personal laptops is becoming more and more expected. Nevertheless, SSDs are not usually within the same capacity that most standard hard disk drives (HDD) are sold with. Laptops sold with SSDs are typically in the range of 128 to 256 GB, while a laptop with an HDD is commonly much higher–anywhere between 500GB to 1 TB. But the price differential tends to be quite significant. That will likely remain consistent while scarcity exists.

Nevertheless, some manufacturers are optimistic. Samsung is now expected to begin operating a new plant in Pyeongtaek in July to further expand its 3D NAND production capacity. Micron will start producing 64-layer 3D NAND chips in the second quarter, with mass shipments becoming ready for the second half of the year. The company promises “meaningful output” by the end of their fiscal year in December.

We won’t hold our breath, but while manufacturers continue to scramble, and alternative storage technologies emerge, we’ll keep you updated. Keep your eye on this blog for further developments.

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Use Case: Body Worn Camera Manufacturer requires a Data Storage Solution that solves for both Speed and Reliability

DIGISTOR was approached by a large, successful manufacturer of body worn camera equipment in 2013 concerning the launch of a new camera targeting the law enforcement community.

The camera had a beautiful industrial design, and was loaded with several new features including very high resolution video.

The software developed integrated seamlessly with a full chain of custody solution, ensuring that the digital evidence would be admissible in a court of law.

The Challenge

But, there was one problem. The microSD card originally selected for the camera continually became corrupted, thus losing valuable evidence and making this new body camera all but useless.

Although hundreds of thousands of dollars had been invested in the camera’s hardware and software development, very little investigation was done into the data storage solution the video would ultimately be written too.

The manufacturer turned to DIGISTOR for help.

The Solution

DIGISTOR worked with the manufacturer’s engineering team to understand the full picture, and identified two critical application requirements:

  • Speed. The customer had a critical high speed write requirement that the SD card had to achieve under all circumstances.
  • Reliability. It was crucial that not only the video was protected from corruption, but that the manufacturer’s customers could have a firm understanding of the life expectancy of each card.

Early on in the design process, the manufacturer focused heavily on speed as the number one requirement.

Working closely with the DIGISTOR firmware engineers, the manufacturer was able to achieve the performance needed for video capture of high resolution video.

Moving on to the reliability requirements, the engineers quickly realized the two bigger issues were the lack of consistency on longevity of the microSD cards, and an unacceptable failure rate.

The DIGISTOR engineer’s test results showed that corrupted tables were locking up the SD cards and not allowing for data recovery of potentially crucial video evidence. The engineers took the following approach to support the manufacture’s identification of the best microSD card solution:

  • DIGISTOR provided an application analysis card which the manufacturer ran in a real life application scenario for a 2-week period.
  • DIGISTOR analyzed the data captured to determine how the application was accessing the SD cards, which also showed the write/erase counts.
  • The data analysis also showed incompatible access patterns within the customer software which could be altered to help overall reliability.
  • DIGISTOR was able to perform a Failure Analysis (FA) on the failing cards that showed how the manufacturer’s application was writing to the SD card and where the issues were occurring.

The Results

By having a full understanding of how the video application accessed the SD card and also how the software was over-stressing memory cells due to unevenness of the write/erase cycles caused by incompatible access patterns in the application itself, the DIGISTOR engineering team found that the standard wear-leveling algorithm was not activating properly and causing corruption within the SD card.

DIGISTOR was able to modify standard firmware to meet the requirement of the video application.

DIGISTOR recommended the manufacturer make changes to the software, which improved the overall performance of the SD card and BWC application.The manufacturer was able to achieve both the performance and reliability needed for a successful new camera launch.

Today, the manufacturer continues to grow share in the body worn camera market and achieve a solid ROI on their secure data platform.

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Use Case: Systems Integrator requires an SSD drive for the Professional Broadcasting Market with unparalleled Quality and Performance

DIGISTOR partnered with a leading video system storage integrator to develop a solid state drive designed for the Blackmagic Cinema Cameras, capable of capturing 4K uncompressed raw video.

While there was multiple Blackmagic camera compatible SSD’s currently on the market, many of these off the shelf solutions did not provide the performance and reliability required by video professionals. In particular, there were major issues with dropped frames and durability of the SSD when deployed in the field.

The Challenge

DIGISTOR completed a comprehensive analysis of the Blackmagic Cinema Cameras usage of SSD storage media. The approach was to have a better understanding of the actual data access patterns.

Very quickly, DIGISTOR was able to identify critical requirements that needed to be addressed in order to develop an SSD solution that would successfully meet the storage media needs of Blackmagic Cinema Camera customers.

  • Speed. It was critical that the SSD be able to handle a consistently high speed data throughput under any circumstance.
  • Reliability. The problem of dropped frames was prevalent and unacceptable.
  • Durability. A form factor design that nested firmly inside Blackmagic Cameras.
  • Locked Firmware. Firmware changes without advance notice were causing drives to fail in the field.

The Solution

DIGISTOR worked for months on a variety of configurations. Once they had a solid working platform they focused on optimizing the firmware for this specific application with the goal to create the most reliable SSD for video capture on the market.

DIGISTOR engineering enabled their integration partner to consistently achieve sustained high speed throughput, allowing for reliable and consistent results.

The Results

DIGISTOR has become a leading supplier of SSD drives into the Professional Video market.

DIGISTOR has shipped thousands of drives into many markets supporting professional video cameras through our integration partner including:

2014 World Cup Events
Churches throughout USA and South America
Broadcasting companies deployed throughout EU

SSD prices on the rise due to NAND flash shortages

The NAND flash supply shortage that has endured this year is expected to continue throughout the fourth quarter, and all signs point to ongoing supply issues well into 2017.

According to TrendForce, strong smartphone demand is the main reason for the NAND flash shortage.  However, higher than anticipated SSD adoption rates in the industrial, enterprise, and consumer markets have also contributed to the severe shortages.  We have already seen factory lead times increase nearly two-fold over the past few months, and price increases affecting certain SSD product lines are not far behind.

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Have you felt the impact of flash?

We’ve seen a more dynamic change in the storage of data on Flash in the past few years than ever before. NAND flash used to only be “trusted” (using that term loosely) in two areas: laptops, and non-critical entertainment such as storage for cameras. Before DIGISTOR was big in the flash storage arena, we would scrutinize every detail of a 2.5” SSD drive for our desktop PC’s, comparing how much data per day we copy, use, and write to be sure we wouldn’t run out of NAND P/E cycles before a standard HDD would.

Over time we came to trust the technology, and even work closely with several global chipset manufacturers that let us in on the deep inner workings of how the NAND is used and how the chipset can, in fact, protect your data. Now we’ve scaled far beyond standard SSD storage for PC’s, and Cinema SSD drives. The more we improve industrial grade high speed flash storage, the more critical applications appear that benefit from improved speed and ruggedized design of solid state storage.

One area that was fairly surprising is the way cloud storage uses flash to improve the response time of any given search for your data. Usually we assume this bottleneck, our ISP, will mean that our remote files can be stored on big spinning disk drives out in a server farm where no SSD’s would really be of use. However, have you noticed that search results appear as you type these days on Google, and Facebook? Yes, that is the result of having some parts of the cloud built to use the high speed dependability of solid state storage.

The area that was more expected, but slower growing, is the IoT. The Internet of Things category has been looking for its day in the sun for some time. Now, something amazing is happening due to the improvements in controller tech, NAND flash, and testing for industrial applications. These little devices can finally have the ability to be truly smart because of the capacity, speed, and reliability of the integrated solid state storage, and improved SoC IC all packed into a small footprint.

The more IoT devices can prove themselves as necessities in our lives, the more innovation will grow from the next generation of devices. In order to do this though, the main requirement is usability. A close second is reliability. IoT devices are usually low power, and always running. Perhaps you don’t even use a particular device every day, but when you need to use it, it must be reliably functioning. There is no room for off-the-shelf consumer flash storage when you have a critical control system in place, perhaps monitoring the security of your home, or granting access to your front door.

We all got used to flash with cheap SD storage for our point-and-shoot cameras, and maybe we have had some experience with SSDs in our laptops. Now that flash storage is used for more critical components in our digital life, there’s no other choice but to be sure your storage of choice is high quality tested NAND and built by a trusted manufacturer. DIGISTOR is always willing to help you in this endeavor. If you’re working on any project, large or small, IoT or enterprise storage, and want to take storage concerns out of the equation, just contact us and we’ll be able to help.

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How does your Body Worn Camera store and manage crucial video evidence?

Police agencies around the country are ramping up their Body Worn Camera (BWC) policies and procedures. High profile police assault videos have continued to surface on the internet creating a public outcry for reform, training, and accountability. Federal grants to help fund policing services need for BWC deployments are rapidly expanding.  These subsidies have created a whirlwind of new manufacturers into the BWC business looking to take advantage of federal grants and a growing market. BWC cameras have a variety of features including high definition video capture, night vision, and ruggedized housing.

BWC cameras record video evidence on an SD card similar to what you would use in a standard camera. That is part of the issue, most agencies and BWC manufacturers use off the shelf consumer SD cards to acquire and store video evidence without even realizing it.  These types of SD cards are at very high risk of corruption. Consumer cards do not offer extended temperature support and are at risk of failure in both hot and cold climates.  Standard SD cards will fail in several instances including being left behind in a hot car for just a short period. Most standard SD cards do not offer a Power-Fail feature or robust video acquisition firmware to keep from having corruption or overwrite issues. The testing and components used by consumer card manufacturers are not to the standard needed to provide a secure and robust BWC video storage solution.

The real question is how to protect crucial video evidence best on Body-Worn Cameras and ensure the proper video evidence gets from the camera to the courtroom? Agencies, BWC manufacturers, and surveillance companies can solve a lot of support and security issues by asking their current BWC supplier specific questions about the storage onboard their BWC camera. The first step is not to be so caught up on speed; these cards are all very fast. That said all SD Cards are not all equal, so it is important to design a card for your particular application. A few important questions to ask your BWC provider and ensure you have the best possible secure storage for your BWC application.

What operating/storage temp is your card supported, both heat/cold?

Does your SD card have a locked Bill of Materials (BOM)?

Does your SD card use TLC, MLC, or SLC flash?

Can you lock your SD card to one specific camera for security purposes?

Can your SD card protect against accidental deletions?

Do you have a power-fail feature?

Again be sure to look deeper than basic specifications such as read/write speeds, sometimes the fastest card may not be the best card for your application. Understanding your overall application and how it accesses the flash within the SD card itself is much more important. Understanding your overall BWC application demands and lifetime expectancy of your BWC camera is crucial to both protecting key video evidence as well protecting the agencies investment. Securing the video until transferred to a more secure and permanent location is the biggest question facing the BWC community, and they don’t even know it yet.

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A new look to continue beyond 15 years of service

We are excited to introduce you to DIGISTOR’s updated website and blog.

We’ve come a long way since we got our start in 2001, when our family started this business to provide digital archiving and data storage products to industrial and global OEM customers. Over the past 15 years, DIGISTOR has become a leading innovator, manufacturer and distributor of industrial-grade flash storage products, secure storage products and digital-video solutions, and today we serve customers around the world in industries such as Law Enforcement, Media, and Entertainment, Medical, Professional Video, Security/Surveillance, and Military.

Our new website is designed to better serve our customers and over the coming months you will see several new product announcements and additional website enhancements such as improvements to our self-service customer center, and additional online B2B capabilities. Our updated blog will continue to publish interesting articles and news and stories relevant to our industry

We always welcome your comments, feedback or ideas so please be sure to connect with us on social media.  We will have a lot to share in the coming weeks and months ahead.

Visit our Facebook page

Tweet us.

Follow us on LinkedIn

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Evaluating Storage System Security

Storing digital data successfully requires a balance of availability, cost, performance and reliability. With the emergence of low-power, petabyte-scale archival storage and flash-based systems, it is getting increasingly difficult to quantify performance, reliability and space-efficiency trade-offs, especially when coupled with storage-security factors. Storage performance is measured by latency, throughput (bandwidth) and IOPS, with throughput typically presented as overall sustained (long) and peak (short) performance transfer rates, and has a wide variety of non-uniform and unique measurement views when storage security is employed.

Although much work has been done on defining, testing and implementing mechanisms to safeguard data storage in long-term archival storage systems, data security verification in our cloud-based, mobile-driven, virtual containerized software-defined remote storage world, remains a unique and ongoing challenge.

Data security can be ensured in a variety of ways depending on the level of security desired, performance and the level of tolerance of user-inconvenience. Most storage systems rely on encrypting data over the wire or by on-disk data encryption, typically using pre-computed checksums and secure hashes, but with no standardized parameters or protocol for comparison between network or on-disk performance and integrity while in actual use.

In today’s multi-tenant virtualized container storage environments, containers depend on a different approach to virtualization, ie. they are not the hardware of things and how a guest O/S runs on top of all that (cpu/memory/network/storage), as containerization separates users and processes from each other. Multi-tenant security is especially important with the heavy reliance on 24xforever mobile data access from containerized cloud storage, where the top-10 security issues identified in 2015 by OWASP (www.owasp.org) were:

  • Insecure data storage;
  • Weak server-side controls;
  • Insufficient transport layer protection;
  • Client-side injection;
  • Poor authorization & authentication
  • Improper session handling
  • Security decisions via un-trusted inputs
  • Side-channel data leakage
  • Broken cryptography
  • Sensitive information disclosure

Docker, one of the most prevalent deployed container technologies in use today, have just recently addressed container user-security concerns  by separating daily container operation privileges from root privileges on the server host, thus minimizing risk of cross-tenant user namespace and root server/data access.

The Center for Internet Security recently released a series of internet security benchmarks (https://benchmarks.cisecurity.org) resources that, although an independent authority and not a standards body, are based on recommended industry-accepted FISMA, PCI, HIPAA and other system hardening standards to help in mitigating security risk for virtualized container storage infrastructure implementations. Although there are a number of new technology products being introduced specifically focused on unique virtual container data security, what does ‘secure’ really mean in the container-context, ie. secure container access, valid container data, native security of application(s) in the container, etc. ?  Most container data volumes today are tied to a specific virtual server, and if the container fails or is moved from that one server to another, the connection to the data volume is lost (no persistent storage), regardless of employed security parameters. For virtual container data to be truly secure, a fully distributed, reliable, secure read/write container file system must be employed to ensure secure, resilient cloud deployments. Ideally, this can be achieved with a container-native cloud deployment on bare-metal, without the use of virtual machines, making the container’s data lifecycle and application scalability independent of the container’s host, while minimizing the future cost and complexity of provision and management of virtual machine server hosts. That coupled with a hardware-secured, write-once data storage device tier, can truly ensure long-term data storage security irrespective of use or lack of encryption use. Additionally and most importantly, cloud data storage encryption keys, although defined within the facets of the SNIA-based Cloud Data Management Interface (CDMI) key management interoperability protocol (KMIP) proposed standard, requires better wide-spread adoption, as most crypto key management is either at the specific storage device level with a single point of key-access failure or as a Cloud provider-managed option today…Lose the key(s), lose the data, no matter how securely managed or replicated!

Clients acting in the role of using a data storage interface

Some data storage security basics:

  • Physical security is essential.
  • Develop internal storage security standards (authentication/authorization/access control methods, configuration templates, encryption req’s., security architecture, zoning, etc.).
  • Document, maintain and enforce security policies that cover availability, confidentiality and integrity for storage-specific areas.
  • Ensure basic access controls are in place to determine your policies; change insecure access permissions.
  • Unload unnecessary/not-required storage services related to NFS (mountd, statd, and lockd).
  • Limit and control network-based permissions for network volumes and shares.
  • Ensure proper authentication and credential verification is taking place at one or more layers above storage devices (within the host operating system, applications and databases).
  • Operating system, application and database-centric storage safeguards are inadequate. Consider vendor-specific and/or 3rd.party storage security add-ons.
  • Ensure audit logging is taking place for storage security accountability.
  • Perform semi-annual information audits of physical location inventory and critical information assets.
  • Separate storage administration and maintenance accounts with strong passwords for both accountability and to minimize potential compromised-account damage.
  • Encrypting data in transit helps, but should not be relied on exclusively.
  • Carefully consider software-based storage encryption solutions for critical systems (key mgt.).
  • Evaluate and consider hardware-based drive encryption on the client side.
  • Carefully select a unified encryption key management platform that includes centralized key lifecycle management.
  • Deploy Boolean-based file/stream access control expressions (ACE’s) in container environments to simplify permission granting to users/groups across data files/directories while providing an additional data protection level in multi-tenant environments.
  • Evaluate OASIS and XACML policy-based schemas for secure access control.
  • Evaluate and consider write-once data storage technology for long-term archival storage tiers.

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