Difference between pages "Research Topics" and "Prefetch"

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Interested in doing research in computer forensics? Looking for a master's topic, or just some ideas for a research paper? Here is our list. Please feel free to add your own ideas.
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Windows Prefetch files, introduced in [[Windows|Windows XP]], are designed to speed up the application startup process. Prefetch files contain the name of the executable, a Unicode list of DLLs used by that executable, a count of how many times the executable has been run, and a timestamp indicating the last time the program was run. Although Prefetch is present in Windows 2003, by default it is only enabled for boot prefetching. The feature is also found in [[Windows Vista]], where it has been augmented with [[SuperFetch]], [[ReadyBoot]], and [[ReadyBoost]].
  
Many of these would make a nice master's project.
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Up to 128 Prefetch files are stored in the <tt>%SystemRoot%\Prefetch</tt> directory [http://blogs.msdn.com/ryanmy/archive/2005/05/25/421882.aspx]. Each file in that directory should contain the name of the application (up to eight (?) characters), a dash, and then an eight character hash of the location from which that application was run, and a <tt>.pf</tt> extension. The filenames should be all uppercase except for the extension. The format of hashes is not known. A sample filename for [[md5deep]] would look like: <tt>MD5DEEP.EXE-4F89AB0C.pf</tt>. If an application is run from two different locations on the drive (i.e. the user runs <tt>C:\md5deep.exe</tt> and then <tt>C:\Apps\Hashing\md5deep.exe</tt>), there will be two different prefetch files in the Prefetch folder.
  
==Small Programming Projects==
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== Timestamps ==
* Modify [[bulk_extractor]] so that it can directly acquire a raw device under Windows. This requires replacing the current ''open'' function call with a ''CreateFile'' function call and using windows file handles.
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Both the [[NTFS]] timestamps for a Prefetch file and the timestamp embedded in each Prefetch file contain valuable information. The creation date of the file indicates the first time the application was executed. Both the modification date of the file and the embedded timestamp indicate the last time the application was executed.
* Create a program that visualizes the contents of a file, sort of like hexedit, but with other features:
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** Automatically pull out the strings
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** Show histogram
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** Detect crypto and/or stenography.
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** (I would write the program in java with a plug-in architecture)
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* Extend [[fiwalk]] to report the NTFS "inodes."
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==Big Programming Projects==
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* Write [[Carver 2.0 Planning Page | Carver 2.0]]
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* Create a method to detect NTFS-compressed cluster blocks on a disk (RAW data stream). A method could be to write a generic signature to detect the beginning of NTFS-compressed file segments on a disk. This method is useful in carving and scanning for textual strings.
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==Reverse-Engineering Projects==
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== MetaData ==
* Continue work on the [[Extensible Storage Engine (ESE) Database File (EDB) format]] in regard to
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The timestamp embedded within the Prefetch file is a 64-bit (QWORD) [http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms724284.aspx FILETIME] object located at offset 0x78 from the beginning of the file on [[Windows]] XP.
** Fill in the missing information about older ESE databases
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** Exchange EDB (MAPI database), STM
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** Active Directory (Active Directory working document available on request)
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* Continue work on the [[Notes Storage Facility (NSF)]]
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* Microsoft SQL Server databases
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* Physical layer access to flash storage.
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The run count, or number of times the application has been run, is a 4-byte (DWORD) value located at offset 0x90 from the beginning of the file on [[Windows]] XP.
** Gain access to the physical layer of SD or USB flash storage device. This will require reverse-engineering the proprietary APIs or gaining access to proprietary information from the manufacturers. Use these APIs to demonstrate the feasibility of recovering residual data that has been overwritten at the logical layer but which is still present at the physical layer.
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==SleuthKit Enhancements==
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== See Also ==
[[SleuthKit]] is the popular open-source system for forensics and data recovery.
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* [[SuperFetch]]
* Add support for a new file system:
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* [[Prefetch_XML]]
** The [[YAFFS]] [[flash file system]]. (YAFFS2 is currently used on the Google G1 phone.) (ViaForensics is currently working on this)
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** The [[JFFS2]] [[flash file system]]. (JFFS2 is currently used on the One Laptop Per Child laptop.)
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** [[XFAT]], Microsoft's new FAT file system.
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** [[EXT4]] (JHUAPL is currently working on this) [http://www.williballenthin.com/ext4/]
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** [[Resilient File System (ReFS)|ReFS]]
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* Enhance support for an existing file system:
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** Report the physical location on disk of compressed files.
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** Add support for NTFS encrypted files (EFS)
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** Extend SleuthKit's implementation of NTFS to cover Transaction NTFS (TxF) (see [[NTFS]])
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* Write a FUSE-based mounter for SleuthKit, so that disk images can be forensically mounted using TSK.
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* Rewrite '''sorter''' in C++ to make it faster and more flexible.
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==EnCase Enhancement==
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== External Links ==
* Develop an EnScript that allows you to script EnCase from Python. (You can do this because EnScripts can run arbitrary DLLs. The EnScript calls the DLL. Each "return" from the DLL is a specific EnCase command to execute. The EnScript then re-enters the DLL.)
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* [http://milo2012.wordpress.com/2009/10/19/windows-prefetch-folder-tool/ Prefetch-Tool Script] - Python looks Prefetch files up on a web server.
 
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* [http://www.mitec.cz/wfa.html Windows File Analyzer] - Parses Prefetch files, thumbnail databases, shortcuts, index.dat files, and the recycle bin
==Timeline Analysis==
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* [http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/driver/kernel/XP_kernel.mspx#ECLAC Microsoft's description of Prefetch when Windows XP was introduced]
; Timeline Visualization and Analysis
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* [http://msdn.microsoft.com/msdnmag/issues/01/12/XPKernel/default.aspx More detail from Microsoft]
: Write a new timeline viewer that supports Logfile fusion (with offsets) and provides the ability to view the logfile in the frequency domain.
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* [http://www.tzworks.net/prototype_page.php?proto_id=1 Windows Prefetch parser] Free tool that can be run on Windows, Linux or Mac OS-X.
 
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==Research Areas==
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These are research areas that could easily grow into a PhD thesis.
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; Stream-based Forensics
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: Process the entire disk with one pass to minimize seek time.  (You may find it necessary to do a quick metadata scan first.)
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; Stegnography Detection (general purpose)
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: Detect the use of stegnography by through the analysis of file examplars and specifications.
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; Sanitization Detection
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: Detect and diagnose sanitization attempts.
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; Compressed Data Reconstruction
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: Reconstruct decompressed data from a GZIP file after the first 1K has been removed.
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;Evidence Falsification Detection
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: Automatically detect falsified digital evidence through the use of inconsistency in file system allocations, application data allocation, and log file analysis.
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; Visualization of data/information in digital forensic context
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: SWOT of current visualization techniques in forensic tools; improvements; feasibility of 3D representation;
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==Correlation==
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* Logfile correlation
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* Document identity identification
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* Correlation between stored data and intercept data
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* Online Social Network Analysis
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** Find and download in a forensically secure manner all of the information in a social network (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) associated with a targeted individual.
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** Determine who is searching for a targeted individual. This might be done with a honeypot, or documents with a tracking device in them, or some kind of covert Facebook App.
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* Automated grouping/annotation of low-level events, e.g. access-time, log-file entry, to higher-level events, e.g. program start, login
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__NOTOC__
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Revision as of 15:55, 29 June 2011

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Windows Prefetch files, introduced in Windows XP, are designed to speed up the application startup process. Prefetch files contain the name of the executable, a Unicode list of DLLs used by that executable, a count of how many times the executable has been run, and a timestamp indicating the last time the program was run. Although Prefetch is present in Windows 2003, by default it is only enabled for boot prefetching. The feature is also found in Windows Vista, where it has been augmented with SuperFetch, ReadyBoot, and ReadyBoost.

Up to 128 Prefetch files are stored in the %SystemRoot%\Prefetch directory [1]. Each file in that directory should contain the name of the application (up to eight (?) characters), a dash, and then an eight character hash of the location from which that application was run, and a .pf extension. The filenames should be all uppercase except for the extension. The format of hashes is not known. A sample filename for md5deep would look like: MD5DEEP.EXE-4F89AB0C.pf. If an application is run from two different locations on the drive (i.e. the user runs C:\md5deep.exe and then C:\Apps\Hashing\md5deep.exe), there will be two different prefetch files in the Prefetch folder.

Timestamps

Both the NTFS timestamps for a Prefetch file and the timestamp embedded in each Prefetch file contain valuable information. The creation date of the file indicates the first time the application was executed. Both the modification date of the file and the embedded timestamp indicate the last time the application was executed.

MetaData

The timestamp embedded within the Prefetch file is a 64-bit (QWORD) FILETIME object located at offset 0x78 from the beginning of the file on Windows XP.

The run count, or number of times the application has been run, is a 4-byte (DWORD) value located at offset 0x90 from the beginning of the file on Windows XP.

See Also

External Links