A Complete Guide on Forensic Analysis Tools

Forensic Analysis Tools

Digital devices are everywhere and their application in the events of investigations is significant. Whether a device belongs to a suspect or victim, the large data these systems hold could be all an analyst requires to carry on a case.

Hence, recovering that data in a safe, effective, and lawful manner is not always an easy effort. Investigators are more relying on new digital forensics tools to aid them.

Digital forensics analysis tools are all comparatively new. As devices grew more intricate and tied with more information, live analysis became unmanageable and unproductive. later, freeware and established specialist technologies started to appear as both hardware and software to filter, extort, or observe data on a device without destroying or changing it.

Digital forensics analysis tools can befall into various categories, some of which involve database forensics, email analysis, disk and data capture, file viewers, file analysis, internet analysis, network forensics, mobile device analysis, and registry analysis. Many tools fulfil more than one function together, and an important trend in digital forensics tools are one that packages hundreds of specific technologies with several functionalities into one overarching toolkit.

While considering the tools, it is tricky how to choose one. In selecting from the wide range of options, we analysed the following criteria:

  • Reasonable cost: Price may not be an indicator of quality, but collaborative peer reviews can be. Most of the tools are open-sourced, free and supported by a group of dedicated developers.

  • Approachability: Unlike some established brands which only sell their products to law enforcement authorities, rest all are accessible to individuals.

  • Responsibility: Either through open-source plans or real-world credentials, these technologies have been completely assessed by specialists.

Computer Forensic Tools Comparison

Computer forensics is a very vital branch of computer science in relation to computer and Internet-associated scandals. Earlier, computers were only handled to generate data but now it has developed to all devices linked to digital data. The aim of computer forensics is to make crime investigations by utilising proof from digital data to find who was liable for that particular crime. Here are a few tools that are prominent in this field.

1. EnCase: EnCase is a product which has been created for forensics, digital security, security inquiry, and e-discovery processes. Encase is usually used to recover proof from stolen hard drives. Encase allows the authority to direct a total examination of client accounts to collect digital evidence which can be used in a court of law.

Advantages

  • With the advanced paid version of Encase which holds all utilities, it also has a free version which can be applied for confirmation acquisition which is very simple to use. This tool is recognised as the Encase Imager.

  • In terms of processing and analysis characteristics, this tool also has good built-in reporting

  • With the rise in cyber threats, encryption represents an important role in defending data in any type or variety of system.

  • Encase has built-in support for nearly all types of encryption including good keyword searching capacities and scripting features are accessible.

  • There is much acceptance of Encase for mobile forensics.

Disadvantages

  • This is a very costly tool.

  • Encase processing can take a lot of time in case of very large aggregate files and mailboxes.

  • The newest versions of Encase sometimes are not fitting with other forensic based tools.

2. Forensic Toolkit: The Forensic Toolkit (FTK) is a computer forensic investigation software package. It checks a hard drive by hunting for different information. It can, for example, find erased emails and can also examine the disk for content sequences. These can then be utilised as a secret keyword relating to break any encryption. The toolbox includes an autonomous disk imaging program known as the FTK Imager. It stores an image of a hard disk in one document or in different sections which can then be remade later. It computes MD5 hash values and asserts the honesty of the information before the closing of the documents. The result is an image file(s) that can be saved in different formats.

Advantages

  • It has an uncomplicated user interface and excellent searching abilities.

  • FTK upholds EFS decryption.

  • It gives a case log file.

  • It has important bookmarking and salient reporting features.

  • FTK Imager is available for free.

Disadvantages

  • FTK does not back scripting features.

  • It does not have multitasking abilities.

  • There is no progression bar to view the time remaining.

  • FTK does not have a timeline representation.

3. XWF (X-Ways): X Ways Forensics is a robust, business Computer Forensic Tool. It is a Windows-based authorised software which allows many functionalities concerning to computer forensics. One of the best benefits of this software is that it can be used in a transportable mode.

Advantages

  • Evidence processing choices can be customized as per the specifications of the case.

  • It has a very adaptable and granular filtering option as well as highly-customizable search purposes.

  • It is portable in nature and it reviews for new innovations consistently.

Disadvantages

  • It is not user-friendly.

  • It is a dongle based software and does not operate without it.

  • There is no provision for Bitlocker.

4. Oxygen Forensic Suite: The Oxygen Forensics package is mobile forensic software for the logical analysis of smartphones, cell phones and PDAs. The suite can retrieve device information, contacts, calendar events, SMS, occasion logs, and reports. Moreover, it can also derive different types of metadata which is essential in any digital forensic investigation. The suite gets to the device by using established protocols.

Advantages

  • Oxygen permits physical extraction information and data from Android devices.

  • The user interface and options are very manageable and easy to follow.

  • The final report can be stored in many readable formats such .xls, .xlsx, .pdf, etc.

  • It is an economically more fitting option when compared to other forensic analysis tools.

  • It has built-in functionality that can be utilised to break passwords for encrypted iTunes, locked iPhone or android reserves.

Disadvantages

  • Its support for a range of mobile devices is confined.

  • Since the tool is computer-based, there is a probability of malware penetrating inside the phone that is being investigated.

  • It utilises a brute force technique which provokes a lot of time to complete the process.

5. Mobile Forensic Techniques: The data can be collected from mobile devices in two ways, specifically, physical acquisition and logical acquisition. Physical Acquisition, also identified as a physical memory dump, is a method for seizing all the data from flash memory chips on the mobile device. It enables the forensic tool to assemble portions of deleted data. Originally, the received data is in raw format and cannot be read. Later on, some methods are employed to transform that data into a human-readable manner.

Logical Acquisition, or logical extraction, is a technique for obtaining the files and folders without any of the removed data from a mobile device. Still, some vendors describe logical extraction nearly as the ability to find a distinct data type, such as pictures, call history, text messages, calendar, videos, and ringtones. A software tool is applied to make a copy of the files. For instance, iTunes backup is utilised to make a logical image of an iPhone or iPad.

Some Popular Forensic Techniques

1. Live Forensics: Live forensics also known as Live Response, tries to identify, handle, and eliminate warnings in live, operating system conditions. In conventional computer forensics, we take snapshots of memory and storage drives as images and conduct analysis on these images in a separated environment. This can clog up the investigation line, as imaging takes time. This is where live forensics benefits. As opposed to conventional computer forensics, live forensics deals with active warnings at runtime. You can estimate live forensics as an effective response, in opposition to the passive nature of traditional forensics.

Live forensics is beneficial if you plan on catching a threat on the spot. It should be regarded that the distinction between traditional forensics and live forensics rests only in response times; you still have to watch the same steps of recognising, quantifying, and reducing the threat. Live forensics supports for near-instant access to registry keys, live connections, system user accounts and memory objects.

Live forensics scenarios remain for short terms. So, to be strong, one has to be concentrated on narrowing down the cause of the warning. This means, that rather than forcing your way into the finding of the problem, you should watch for suspect files within the system, such as TEMP records. On Windows, a good way of beginning live forensics is by looking into at the active user’s APPDATA directory, particularly its ROAMING folder.

2. Data Recovery: Data recovery is the revival of data that has been destroyed, erased, or mislaid. This is one of the more common perspectives that forensics professionals may face. As people become more data-driven, most of them cannot stand to lose this data. This can may have personal data, including family photos and videos, or professional data such as reports, sensitive business information, etc.

Data recovery usually takes one of two forms, they are, in-place recovery, where tools can be applied to recover data by remediating disk drive failures; or read-only recovery, which does not correct errors on the original point of failure, instead saves the recovered files someplace on the disk.

3. Recovery of Password: It refers to the recovery of password-protected files that are presented unusable when the passwords are lost. A password can give strong protection to delicate data or information. But in some case that it gets lost or the admin forgets it, thus a password can also be a trouble. In such cases, password recovery is the best way to recover files.

Password recovery can be accomplished by breaking the password through brute force, which tries all likely combinations recognised for that password. In most cases, this can be extremely time-consuming. More intelligent techniques can be applied to reduce the number of possible passwords. The obstacle can be complicated if the files are also encrypted.

4. File Carving: A forensic technique that takes file contents, despite file metadata, to discover or recover the stated file. As addressed above, when a file is erased, it does not mean that it has been deleted from the drive. Normally, the operating system simply fails its handle on the file, otherwise identified as the file’s metadata. Thus, you cannot obtain the file through your file system, as it is now absent to the file’s existence itself.

You can still retrieve such files based on their content, and such a recovery is called file carving. File carving obtains important, structured data from a structureless, unallocated part of the drive. It is most helpful when file or directory entries are either defective or lost.

5. Known File Filtering: Known file filtering is a standard forensics technique used to find only important files by filtering out unnecessary files. In computer forensics, you will often find loads of data totally unrelated to what you’re trying to achieve. You will often be hunting for particular files, which indicates sifting through tonnes of unrelated files. Known file filtering makes this simple; rather than eliminating all the files that are unnecessary, you start with some identified data of the relevant file. This makes the method of separation much faster.

Known file filtering utilises famous cryptographic hashes MD5 or SHA1, in tandem with hash values of application installation files. It then scans for a comparable hash in the file system. The main disadvantage of known file filtering is that it can only operate if the hashes match absolutely. This indicates that, if the relevant files are even insignificantly twisted, this technique becomes weak.

6. String and Keyword Searching: In digital forensics, string and keyword searching is utilised, which can assist recognise relevant data, and the source of possible threats.

This technique introduced computer forensics itself. before we had digital files, forensic experts would parse paper documents to scan for specific phrases or words that were related to their analysis. Today, we designated these words and phrases as strings and keywords. Searching for these special orders of characters can considerably speed-up forensic investigations, especially if the data-set is pretty comprehensive.

The important point here is to determine good keywords and strings. For example, if you want to look for a file that comprises instructions on an artwork, avoid using the word “instructions” in your search; rather, focus on “artwork,” as you might have other files including the word “instructions,” while very few files include “artwork”.

7. Header Analysis: Header analysis allows investigators to examine email headers, which can lead to the IP address of the source email, and fix lags in email delivery. Email clients can be utilised to infiltrate anyone’s system if the receiving person is not careful. Most customers do an excellent job of identifying such unusual emails themselves, which they can then both move to the spam section or eliminate entirely from the server.

However, there is a possibility of obtaining a virus through emails. In unsuccessful cases, header analysis is practiced as a first resort of recognizing where the email came from. An email’s header carries some valuable metadata, for instance, the IP address of the source, and the computer name. This IP address can be applied to discover the perpetrator.

8. Timeline Analysis: Timeline Analysis is the investigation of events in chronological order that either led to or succeeded by the main event under investigation.

Unfortunate events don’t result in emptiness. There is always a series of events leading the main crime/occurrence, and it is often beneficial to find out when these events happened. Timeline analysis produces precisely all the events going on in the system in chronological order. This allows forensic experts to define causality, which is important for investigating the source of the issue.

Many forensic tools include timeline analysis to support their results. For instance, Autopsy has a GUI-based timeline analysis tool that utilises web artifacts and different extracted data to create a timeline of incidents.

Large amounts of data are being made now, complex information and information technologies, and border-less cyber infrastructures generate new challenges for security authorities and law enforcement agencies examining cyber crimes. The future of digital forensics is examined, with importance on these hurdles and the improvements needed to efficiently protect modern civilization and track cyber criminals.

NdimensionZ Solutions utilises various techniques and exclusive web auditing and forensic analysis software to examine copy, investigate obscure folders and vacant disk space for copies of erased, encrypted, or corrupted files. Experience our services and get used to the quality!

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