Difference between pages "Forensic Live CD issues" and "User:Alex116"

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== The problem ==
 
  
[[Tools#Forensics_Live_CDs | Forensic Linux Live CD distributions]] are widely used during computer forensic investigations. Currently, many vendors of such Live CD distributions spread false claims that their distributions "do not touch anything", "write protect everything" and so on. Community-developed distributions are not exception here, unfortunately. Finally, it turns out that many forensic Linux Live CD distributions are not tested properly and there are no suitable test cases developed.
 
 
== Another side of the problem ==
 
 
Another side of the problem of insufficient testing of forensic Live CD distributions is that many users do not know what happens "under the hood" of such distributions and cannot adequately test them.
 
 
=== Example ===
 
 
For example, [http://forensiccop.blogspot.com/2009/10/forensic-cop-journal-13-2009.html ''Forensic Cop Journal'' (Volume 1(3), Oct 2009)] describes a test case when an Ext3 file system was mounted using "-o ro" mount flag as a way to write protect the data. The article says that all tests were successful (i.e. no data modification was found after unmounting the file system), but it is known that damaged (i.e not properly unmounted) Ext3 file systems cannot be write protected using only "-o ro" mount flags (write access will be enabled during file system recovery).
 
 
And the question is: will many users test damaged Ext3 file system (together with testing the clean one) when validating their favourite forensic Live CD distribution? My answer is "no", because many users are unaware of such traits.
 
 
== Problems ==
 
 
Here is a list of common problems of forensic Linux Live CD distributions that can be used by developers and users for testing purposes. Each problem is followed by an up to date list of distributions affected.
 
 
=== Journaling file system updates ===
 
 
When mounting (and unmounting) several journaling file systems with only "-o ro" mount flag a different number of data writes may occur. Here is a list of such file systems:
 
 
{| class="wikitable" border="1"
 
|-
 
!  File system
 
!  When data writes happen
 
!  Notes
 
|-
 
|  Ext3
 
|  File system requires journal recovery
 
|  To disable recovery: use "noload" flag, or use "ro,loop" flags, or use "ext2" file system type
 
|-
 
|  Ext4
 
|  File system requires journal recovery
 
|  To disable recovery: use "noload" flag, or use "ro,loop" flags, or use "ext2" file system type
 
|-
 
|  ReiserFS
 
|  File system has unfinished transactions
 
|  "nolog" flag does not work (see ''man mount''). To disable journal updates: use "ro,loop" flags
 
|-
 
|  XFS
 
|  Always (when unmounting)
 
|  "norecovery" flag does not help (fixed in recent 2.6 kernels). To disable data writes: use "ro,loop" flags.
 
|}
 
 
Incorrect mount flags can be used to mount file systems on evidentiary media during the boot process or during the file system preview process. As described above, this may result in data writes to evidentiary media. For example, several Ubuntu-based forensic Live CD distributions mount and recover damaged Ext3/4 file systems on fixed media (e.g. hard drives) during execution of [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Initrd ''initrd''] scripts (these scripts mount every supported file system type on every supported media type using only "-o ro" flag in order to find a root file system image).
 
 
[[Image:ext3 recovery.png|thumb|right|[[Helix3]]: damaged Ext3 recovery during the boot]]
 
 
List of distributions that recover Ext3 (and sometimes Ext4) file systems during the boot:
 
 
{| class="wikitable" border="1"
 
|-
 
!  Distribution
 
!  Version
 
|-
 
|  Helix3
 
|  2009R1
 
|-
 
|  SMART Linux (Ubuntu)
 
|  2010-01-20
 
|-
 
|  FCCU GNU/Linux Forensic Boot CD
 
|  12.1
 
|-
 
|  SPADA
 
|  4
 
|}
 
 
=== Root file system spoofing ===
 
 
Most Ubuntu-based forensic Live CD distributions use Casper (a set of scripts used to complete initialization process during early stage of boot). Casper is responsible for searching for a root file system (typically, an image of live environment) on all supported devices (because a bootloader does not pass any information about device used for booting to the kernel), mounting it and executing ''/sbin/init'' program on a mounted root file system that will continue the boot process. Unfortunately, Casper was not designed to meet computer forensics requirements and is responsible for damaged Ext3/4 file systems recovery during the boot (see above) and root file system spoofing.
 
 
[[Image:Grml.png|thumb|right|[[grml]] mounted root file system from the [[hard drive]]]]
 
 
Currently, Casper may select fake root file system image on evidentiary media (e.g. [[Hard Drive|HDD]]), because there are no authenticity checks performed (except optional UUID check for a possible live file system), and this fake root file system image may be used to execute malicious code during the boot with root privileges. Knoppix-based forensic Live CD distributions are vulnerable to the same attack.
 
 
List of Ubuntu-based and Debian-based distributions that allow root file system spoofing:
 
 
{| class="wikitable" border="1"
 
|-
 
!  Distribution
 
!  Version
 
|-
 
|  Helix3
 
|  2009R1
 
|-
 
|  Helix3 Pro
 
|  2009R3
 
|-
 
|  CAINE
 
|  1.5
 
|-
 
|  DEFT Linux
 
|  5
 
|-
 
|  Raptor
 
|  20091026
 
|-
 
|  grml ''(uses Casper fork - live-initramfs)''
 
|  2009.10
 
|-
 
|  BackTrack
 
|  4
 
|-
 
|  SMART Linux (Ubuntu)
 
|  2010-01-20
 
|-
 
|  FCCU GNU/Linux Forensic Boot CD
 
|  12.1
 
|}
 
 
Vulnerable Knoppix-based distributions include: SPADA, LinEn Boot CD, BitFlare.
 
 
[http://anti-forensics.ru/ Anti-Forensics.Ru project] [http://digitalcorpora.org/corp/images/aor/ released several ISO 9660 images] used to test various Linux Live CD distributions for root file system spoofing (description for all images is [http://anti-forensics.ru/casper/ here]).
 
 
=== Swap space activation ===
 
 
=== Incorrect mount policy ===
 
 
==== HAL ====
 
 
==== rebuildfstab and scanpartitions scripts ====
 
 
=== Incorrect write-blocking approach ===
 
 
== External links ==
 
 
* [http://www.computer-forensics-lab.org/pdf/Linux_for_computer_forensic_investigators_2.pdf Linux for computer forensic investigators: problems of booting trusted operating system]
 
* [http://www.computer-forensics-lab.org/pdf/Linux_for_computer_forensic_investigators.pdf Linux for computer forensic investigators: «pitfalls» of mounting file systems]
 

Latest revision as of 11:26, 28 March 2011