Digital Investigations and Evidence

There is an abundant number of digital forensic and investigation definitions, and this section gives the definitions that I use and a justification for them. The focus of a digital investigation is going to be some type of digital device that has been involved in an incident or crime. The digital device was either used to commit a physical crime or it executed a digital event that violated a policy or law. An example of the first case is if a suspect used the Internet to conduct research about a physical crime. Examples of the latter case are when an attacker gains unauthorized access to a computer, a user downloads contraband material, or a user sends a threatening e-mail. When the violation is detected, an investigation is started to answer questions such as why the violation occurred and who or what caused it to occur.

A digital investigation is a process where we develop and test hypotheses that answer questions about digital events. This is done using the scientific method where we develop a hypothesis using evidence that we find and then test the hypothesis by looking for additional evidence that shows the hypothesis is impossible. Digital evidence is a digital object that contains reliable information that supports or refutes a hypothesis.

Consider a server that has been compromised. We start an investigation to determine how it occurred and who did it. During the investigation, we find data that were created by events related to the incident. We recover deleted log entries from the server, find attack tools, and find numerous vulnerabilities that existed on the server. Using this data, and more, we develop hypotheses about which vulnerability the attacker used to gain access and what she did afterwards. Later, we examine the firewall configuration and logs and determine that some of the scenarios in our hypotheses are impossible because that type of network traffic could not have existed, and we do not find the necessary log entries. Therefore, we have found evidence that refutes one or more hypotheses.

In this book, I use the term evidence in the investigative context. Evidence has both legal and investigative uses. The definition that I previously gave was for the investigative uses of evidence, and there could be situations where not all of it can be entered into a court of law. Because the legal admissibility requirements vary by country and state and because I do not have a legal background, I am going to focus on the general concept of evidence, and you can make the adjustments needed in your jurisdiction.[1] In fact, there are no legal requirements that are specific to file systems, so the general digital investigation books listed in the Preface can provide the needed information.

[1] A good overview of U.S. law is Cybercrime [Clifford 2001].

So far, you may have noticed that I have not used the term "forensic" during the discussion about a digital investigation. The American Heritage Dictionary defines forensic as an adjective and "relating to the use of science or technology in the investigation and establishment of facts or evidence in a court of law" [Houghton Mifflin Company 2000]. The nature of digital evidence requires us to use technology during an investigation, so the main difference between a digital investigation and a digital forensic investigation is the introduction of legal requirements. A digital forensic investigation is a process that uses science and technology to analyze digital objects and that develops and tests theories, which can be entered into a court of law, to answer questions about events that occurred. In other words, a digital forensic investigation is a more restricted form of digital investigation. I will be using the term digital investigation in this book because the focus is on the technology and not specific legal requirements.

Part I: Foundations

Digital Investigation Foundations

Computer Foundations

Hard Disk Data Acquisition

Part II: Volume Analysis

Volume Analysis

PC-based Partitions

Server-based Partitions

Multiple Disk Volumes

Part III: File System Analysis

File System Analysis

FAT Concepts and Analysis

FAT Data Structures

NTFS Concepts

NTFS Analysis

NTFS Data Structures

Ext2 and Ext3 Concepts and Analysis

Ext2 and Ext3 Data Structures

UFS1 and UFS2 Concepts and Analysis

UFS1 and UFS2 Data Structures




File System Forensic Analysis
File System Forensic Analysis
ISBN: 0321268172
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2006
Pages: 184
Authors: Brian Carrier © 2008-2020.
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