Research Topics

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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.

Short-Term Engineering Projects

These projects would make a nice master's thesis or the start of a PhD.

Extend SleuthKit's implementation of NTFS to cover EFS.
Extend SleuthKit's implementation of NTFS to cover Transaction NTFS (TxF)
Physical layer access to flash storage.
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.

Timeline Analysis

Timeline Visualization and Analysis
Write a new timeline viewer that supports Logfile fusion (with offsets) and provides the ability to view the logfile in the frequency domain.
Changed Clocks
Detect a system that has had its clock changed.

Research Areas

These are research areas that could easily grow into a PhD thesis.

Stream-based Forensics
Process the entire disk with one pass to minimize seek time. (You may find it necessary to do a quick metadata scan first.)
Stegnography Detection (general purpose)
Detect the use of stegnography by through the analysis of file examplars and specifications.
Sanitization Detection
Detect and diagnose sanitization attempts.
Compressed Data Reconstruction
Reconstruct decompressed data from a GZIP file after the first 1K has been removed.
Evidence Falsification Detection
Automatically detect falsified digital evidence through the use of inconsistency in file system allocations, application data allocation, and log file analysis.


  • Logfile correlation
  • Document identity identification
  • Correlation between stored data and intercept data
  • Online Social Network Analysis
    • 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.
    • 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.

Programming Projects

File Visualization

Write a program that visualizes the contents of a file, sort of like hexedit, but with other features:

  • Automatically pull out the strings
  • Show histogram
  • Detect crypto and/or stenography.

I would write the program in java with a plug-in architecture.

SleuthKit Enhancements

SleuthKit is the popular open-source system for forensics and data recovery.

  • Add support for a new file system:
  • Enhance support for an existing file system:
    • EXT4
    • Add support for NTFS encrypted files.
    • Report the physical location on disk of compressed files.
  • Write a FUSE-based mounter for SleuthKit, so that disk images can be forensically mounted using TSK. (I've already started on this if you want the code.)

Necessary skills: C programming and filesystem familiarity.

fiwalk Enhancements

  • Rewrite the metadata extraction system.
  • Extend fiwalk to report the NTFS "inodes."