Mozilla Firefox 3 History File Format
Starting in Firefox 3, a new file format was used to record browser history information. Rather than storing this information in a flat file using the mork file format (as was done in previous versions of Firefox), the information is kept in sqlite tables within a file.
On linux systems, the history file is located in the users home folder in the .mozilla/firefox/<profile folder>/ folder and is named places.sqlite. On Windows systems, the history file is located in C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Application Data\Mozilla\firefox\Profiles\<profile folder> and is named places.sqlite.
File HeaderFirefox 3 history files start with
53 51 4C 69 74 65 20 66 6F 72 6D 61 74 20 33which represents the ascii string SQLite format 3. This is normal for any Sqlite database file, so it may be more appropriate to verify that the file is a Firefox 3 history file by looking for the database tables within the file. For example, at offset 120701 (0x1D77D) the hex value
43 52 45 41 54 45 20 54 41 42 4C 45 20 6D 6F 7A 5F 62 6F 6F 6B 6D 61 72 6B 73can be found. This represents the ascii string CREATE TABLE moz_bookmarks. At offset 120973 (0x1D88D) the hex value
43 52 45 41 54 45 20 49 4E 44 45 58 20 6D 6F 7A 5F 62 6F 6F 6B 6D 61 72 6B 73 5F 69 74 65 6D 69 6E 64 65 78can be found. This represents the ascii string CREATE TABLE moz_bookmarks_itemindex.
The places.sqlite file is essentially a database with multiple tables:
moz_anno_attributes moz_annos moz_bookmarks moz_bookmarks_roots moz_favicons moz_historyvisits moz_inputhistory moz_items_annos moz_keywords moz_places
The moz_places table holds some of the information necessary to reconstruct the browser history.
id INTEGER PRIMARY KEY url LONGVARCHAR (The whole URL string) title LONGVARCHAR (The title presented from the TITLE tags on the page) rev_host LONGVARCHAR (this is the host name from the URL in reverse) visit_count INTEGER hidden INTEGER typed INTEGER favicon_id INTEGER frecency INTEGER
The moz_historyvisits table holds the other information that you need to link up with moz_places to reconstruct the browser history. Note that some of these fields are different than in the graphic above. The fields reported here are what was actually found in a Firefox 3 History File. It is possible that the graphic was developed before development of the history file reached maturity and is somewhat outdated.
id INTEGER from_visit INTEGER place_id INTEGER visit_date INTEGER visit_type INTEGER session INTEGER
The place_id column of the moz_historyvisits table corresponds to the id column of the moz_places table.
The visit_date column keeps time in PRTime format, a 64-bit integer representing the number of microseconds since midnight (00:00:00) 1 January 1970 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). This level of precision may be more than what is required for a forensic application, but the PRTime format can easily be converted into CTime format by truncating everything after the 11th digit.
The visit_type column is an integer that represents one of seven types.
|1||TRANSITION_LINK||This transition type means the user followed a link and got a new toplevel window.|
|2||TRANSITION_TYPED||This transition type means that the user typed the page's URL in the URL bar or selected it from URL bar autocomplete results, clicked on it from a history query (from the History sidebar, History menu, or history query in the personal toolbar or Places organizer.|
|3||TRANSITION_BOOKMARK||This transition is set when the user followed a bookmark to get to the page.|
|4||TRANSITION_EMBED||This transition type is set when some inner content is loaded. This is true of all images on a page, and the contents of the iframe. It is also true of any content in a frame, regardless of whether or not the user clicked something to get there.|
|5||TRANSITION_REDIRECT_PERMANENT||Set when the transition was a permanent redirect.|
|6||TRANSITION_REDIRECT_TEMPORARY||Set when the transition was a temporary redirect.|
|7||TRANSITION_DOWNLOAD||Set when the transition is a download.|
Gathering browser historyBrowser history for Firefox 3 can be gathered by connecting to the Sqlite database and performing simple queries. For example, the URLs visited and the date and time of the visit can be gathered with this query:
SELECT moz_places.url, moz_historyvisits.visit_date FROM moz_places, moz_historyvisits WHERE moz_places.id = moz_historyvisits.place_id