Cybercrime and Computer Forensics Seminar - Chicago Bar Association CLE May 25, 2011


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This was a CLE course on digital forensics given to the Chicago Bar Association on May 25, 2011 by John Bambenek.

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Cybercrime and Computer Forensics Seminar - Chicago Bar Association CLE May 25, 2011

  1. 1. Cybercrime and Computer Forensics Seminar Chicago Bar Association Mar 25th , 2011 John C. A. Bambenek Chief Forensic Examiner, Bambenek Consulting 312-725-HACK (4225)
  2. 2. Agenda  Types of Actionable Computer Crime  Incident Response versus Forensics  Laws Related to Computer Forensics  Chain of Custody and Data Acquisition  Hard drive Forensics  Registry Examination  Memory Forensics  Network Forensics  Log / Server Forensics  File Metadata
  3. 3. Types of Actionable Computer Crime  Identity Theft  Electronic Fraud (ACH or Credit Card)  Spamming  Website Defacement / Denial of Service  Unauthorized Access / Misuse of Access  Cyberbulling  Trade Secret Theft  National Security Issues
  4. 4. Obstacles to Cybercrime Prosecution  Relatively new are in the law / law not caught up with technology  International in scope / non-extradition treaty countries  Limited resources & skillsets within law enforcement  Near constant level of criminal activity  Organized crime involvement and sophisticated business models  Security tool development lags criminal tool development
  5. 5. Incident Response vs. Forensics  Incident response = “Something bad happened, fix it”  Forensics = Acquisition of evidence for potential litigation  Can include e-Discovery  Organizations should have prepared in advance for this decision  Some incidents are not worth pursuing in criminal or civil court  Forensics is much more time-consuming and expensive  In both cases, how someone “got in”, what did they do once there  May not be concerned with attribution
  6. 6. Laws Relating to Forensics  Wire fraud (18 USC § 1343)  Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (18 USC § 1030)  Electronic Communications Privacy Act (18 USC § 2510)  Stored Communications Act (18 USC § 2701)  Digital Millennium Copyright Act (17 USC § 512 et al) **
  7. 7. Legal Issues Relating to Forensics  Ownership of Hardware  Big issue with Cloud Computing  Ownership of Data  Expectation of Privacy  Not supposed to monitor users if they reasonably believe their actions are private  Chain of Custody / Evidence Preservation  Hard to have a case if chain of custody is broken or evidence has been corrupted
  8. 8. What kinds of evidence can be collected?  Physical drives  System memory  Network transmissions  System/Server Logs  Other sources?
  9. 9. Chain of Custody  Physical possession of data is standard chain of custody  How do you prove chain of custody on electronic information?  Cryptographic hashing  Prevention of evidence contamination  Analyze only digital copies  Use “write-blockers” for physical drives  Difficult for “live system” analysis  Keeping notes for all tasks performed on “live system”
  10. 10. Hashing  Hashing uses an encryption algorithm to generate a pseudo-random string of text to represent a unique file (or hard drive)  Small changes cause large changes in the hash  Example: “Chicago Bar Association.” vs “Chicago Bar Association!”  MD5:  03d4d59b4619362bd565ac5330f831ca vs 1f08610821af98d38f1b577a580f1f38  SHA1:  7b41514f4ab916eb93da4d0301a39ea430b617d8 vs 3262f20679f1771afee3fc9b3c397ac02f04290a
  11. 11. Hard drive data acquisition  Can be done on a “live system” or a system that is off  On a “live system” data is constantly changing, which can be problematic  Involves a bit-copy of a drive into a “virtual drive” file for examination  Hashes taken before and after to ensure no data is contaminated  Drive left in safe, all analysis done on copies “virtual drive”
  12. 12. Hard drive basics  Hard drives are collections of ones and zeroes, even when mostly empty  File tables connect files to actual “addresses” on the drive to where the data that comprises that file is stored and attributes of the file (like MAC times).  When files are deleted, the actual data still exists. The file is simply “unlinked” from the addresses it uses on the drive and those parts of the drive can be later overwritten with new files.  Government standards require multiple “wipes” of a drive to confirm deletion  Data may hide also in “slack space”
  13. 13. Hard drive basics  So you have a drive image, now what?  Search for all deleted files  Search for all files added, deleted or modified at a certain time  Search files for specific strings  Search for files of a specific type  Examine key system files (configuration files, startup scripts, system registry)  Depends heavily on the nature of the incident  Iterative process that is more art than science
  14. 14. MAC times  MAC times stand for “modified”, “accessed”, “changed” and may also include a creation time.  All files have MAC times associated with them (even deleted ones).  These times can help provide a search pattern for “important” files to an incident. (i.e. if something happened at 3pm Jan 11th , you’d look for any file with a MAC time near that same time).
  15. 15. Windows Registry  Windows Operating systems keep a wide variety of information in the system registry (can be accessed live using RegEdit command).  Most recently used programs  Most recently entered commands  Most recently viewed documents  Typed URLs in IE  Unique hardware addresses for USB keys accessed on system  This can be used to create a “timeline” of activity on the machine
  16. 16. Memory Forensics  Must be done on a “live” machine, memory disappears without power*  Contains:  All running programs (even those deleted from the disk)  Any encryption keys in use (makes for easy decrypting)  In some cases, passwords  Memory is constantly changing  Evidence “changes” over time, may have to work with multiple memory files
  17. 17. Network forensics  In essence, the same as wiretapping a phone call except with data  Most network switches allow for capturing live traffic from a machine  What are you looking for:  Who is talking to this machine  Who is this machine talking to  When is it happening  What is being communicated  Encryption?
  18. 18. Log forensics  Servers associated with a subject computer may have valuable information  E-mail logs can show all mail sent from a target computer  DHCP / DNS logs may show when the machine was on and who it was communicating with  If configured, can show who accessed a machine even if the machine has had its own logs wiped  Web server logs can show attacks in progress and how servers were exploited
  19. 19. E-mail Forensics  E-mails all come with headers that give a wealth of information to identify the sender.  Can show:  IP Address of sender  Can show all mailservers users  Potentially can show true username of sender  Shows when message really sent  Gives unique message ID which can be used to track messages in mail server logs
  20. 20. E-mail headers Return-path: <> Envelope-to: Delivery-date: Tue, 15 Mar 2011 12:13:56 -0500 Received: from ([]) by with esmtp (Exim 4.69) (envelope-from <>) id 1PzXoi-0000mf-Fw for; Tue, 15 Mar 2011 12:13:56 -0500 Received: from DM48WXP (unverified []) by (Rockliffe SMTPRA 9.3.1) with ESMTP id <> for <>; Tue, 15 Mar 2011 12:16:42 -0500 From: "Kevin A. Thompson" <> To: <> References: <> <051601cbd9e9$bd0fae80$372f0b80$@com> <> In-Reply-To: <> Subject: RE: CBA - CLE/Seminar? Date: Tue, 15 Mar 2011 12:16:39 -0500 Message-ID: <020b01cbe334$bf146320$3d3d2960$@com> MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: text/plain; charset="US-ASCII" Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit X-Mailer: Microsoft Office Outlook 12.0 Thread-Index: AcvhtQ/DNjyl3vl3Rr+AKt9z5zMFkwBf6MAA Content-Language: en-us
  21. 21. File Metadata  Many file types include metadata in them to indicate the creating user, when modified, etc.  Metadata can be examined even on machines you don’t control  Cell phones can be notorious about including metadata with image files.  This may even include GPS coordinates of where a picture was taken.  Office documents (especially with track changes) can show every person who touched a file  In some cases, can include content that has been “redacted” when viewed normally.
  22. 22. Other data sources  Cell phones (certainly smart phones) are huge data repositories and can even store a significant amount of computer files  Tablets and iPads  Online social network content (in particular, media)  Blog comments, forum posts  Webmail accounts  Google
  23. 23. Questions? John Bambenek 312 – 725 – HACK (4225)