Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Perimeter

11/18/2009
01:35 PM
John H. Sawyer
John H. Sawyer
Commentary
50%
50%

Push-Button Forensics

Digital forensics, computer forensics, or whatever you want to call the investigation and analysis of computer systems and digital media, is a challenging field that requires deep knowledge of the systems being analyzed. There is a push, however, to lower the barrier to entry for lesser skilled analysts to perform digital forensics using modern forensic tools.

Digital forensics, computer forensics, or whatever you want to call the investigation and analysis of computer systems and digital media, is a challenging field that requires deep knowledge of the systems being analyzed. There is a push, however, to lower the barrier to entry for lesser skilled analysts to perform digital forensics using modern forensic tools.I saw a few references on Twitter to a blog entry titled "The Value of Push Button Forensics" and several mixed responses on the topic of having forensic tools that are so easy that a caveman could use them. Okay, well, maybe not a caveman, but at least a technical analyst who doesn't have years of forensic training, experience, or the deep understanding of what's going on under the hood of the forensic tools that a seasoned forensic investigator has.

As the author of the blog mentions, push button forensics (PBF) has a lot of appeal for organizations that are coming under increasing pressure to perform more forensics but finding themselves backlogged. For example, I just spoke to one law enforcement group that has two forensic examiners with a six month backlog. Six months! Wow.

Now if that group had several analysts who could process the smaller cases using PBF tools, that would free up the primary investigators to work on the bigger, more serious cases. Or, it might mean they could create the case in the PBF, pre-process evidence so indexing, file carving, etc. is done, that would help streamline getting the evidence into the hands of the experienced examiners.

Do I think inexperienced analysts should be performing forensic investigations from start to finish and possibly, testifying in court? I have some doubts. I've read numerous comments from forensic guys who have been in the forensic field for years that said they'd love to go head-to-head against someone who only knows how to use the PBF tools but not what's happening at the filesystem level or how the tool parses the registry.

What concerns me is the forensic cases that occur more on the fringe where an attacker or suspect uses a system that isn't supported by the PBF tool. Or they use anti-forensic techniques that will hide data from the PBF tool that leads to an incorrect final conclusion. Will there always been a senior investigator there to review the work? Or should it be left to the senior investigator in the first place?

I'm looking forward to how the forensic tool market will play out. Digital forensics in a time-consuming activity and I welcome tools to make it easier as long as it doesn't abstract the underlying activities so much that we forget our roots.

John H. Sawyer is a senior security engineer on the IT Security Team at the University of Florida. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are his own and do not represent the views and opinions of the UF IT Security Team or the University of Florida. When John's not fighting flaming, malware-infested machines or performing autopsies on blitzed boxes, he can usually be found hanging with his family, bouncing a baby on one knee and balancing a laptop on the other. Special to Dark Reading.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 10/23/2020
7 Tips for Choosing Security Metrics That Matter
Ericka Chickowski, Contributing Writer,  10/19/2020
Russian Military Officers Unmasked, Indicted for High-Profile Cyberattack Campaigns
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  10/19/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
The COVID-19 pandemic turned the world -- and enterprise computing -- on end. Here's a look at how cybersecurity teams are retrenching their defense strategies, rebuilding their teams, and selecting new technologies to stop the oncoming rise of online attacks.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-24847
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-23
A Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) vulnerability is identified in FruityWifi through 2.4. Due to a lack of CSRF protection in page_config_adv.php, an unauthenticated attacker can lure the victim to visit his website by social engineering or another attack vector. Due to this issue, an unauthenticat...
CVE-2020-24848
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-23
FruityWifi through 2.4 has an unsafe Sudo configuration [(ALL : ALL) NOPASSWD: ALL]. This allows an attacker to perform a system-level (root) local privilege escalation, allowing an attacker to gain complete persistent access to the local system.
CVE-2020-5990
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-23
NVIDIA GeForce Experience, all versions prior to 3.20.5.70, contains a vulnerability in the ShadowPlay component which may lead to local privilege escalation, code execution, denial of service or information disclosure.
CVE-2020-25483
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-23
An arbitrary command execution vulnerability exists in the fopen() function of file writes of UCMS v1.4.8, where an attacker can gain access to the server.
CVE-2020-5977
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-23
NVIDIA GeForce Experience, all versions prior to 3.20.5.70, contains a vulnerability in NVIDIA Web Helper NodeJS Web Server in which an uncontrolled search path is used to load a node module, which may lead to code execution, denial of service, escalation of privileges, and information disclosure.