Career Paths In Digital Forensics: Practical Applications

by Christa Miller, Forensic Focus

Whether you’re a college or university student trying to plot out your career, an experienced worker figuring out next steps, or a mentor seeking to help either one of them, you may be seeking to answer the question: what can I do in digital forensics?

The digital forensics profession has grown by leaps and bounds over the past three decades, and cybercrime’s proliferation means there’s no shortage of work. In the last ten years alone, mobile devices and the cloud both became evidence storage sources rivaling hard drives. The Internet of Things and artificial intelligence went from obscurity to widely deployed reality.

Looking back at our recap of the Techno Security and Digital Investigations Conference, we can see the number of options reflected in the presentations — and then some. As Doug Brush and Nathan Mousselli pointed out in their panel discussion on certifications at Techno Security, career paths are opening up today that didn’t even exist five or ten years ago.

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File timestamps are used by forensics practitioners as a fundamental artifact. For example, the creation of user files can show traces of user activity, while system files, like configuration and log files, typically reveal when a program was run.

Despite timestamps being ubiquitous, the understanding of their exact meaning is mostly overlooked in favor of fully-automated, correlation-based approaches. Existing work for practitioners aims at understanding Windows and is not directly applicable to Unix-like systems.

In this paper, we review how each layer of the software stack (kernel, file system, libraries, application) influences MACB timestamps on Unix systems such as Linux, OpenBSD, FreeBSD and macOS.

We examine how POSIX specifies the timestamp behavior and propose a framework for automatically profiling OS kernels, user mode libraries and applications, including compliance checks against POSIX.

Our implementation covers four different operating systems, the GIO and Qt library, as well as several user mode applications and is released as open-source.

Based on 187 compliance tests and automated profiling covering common file operations, we found multiple unexpected and non-compliant behaviors, both on common operations and in edge cases.

Furthermore, we provide tables summarizing timestamp behavior aimed to be used by practitioners as a quick-reference.

Learn more: https://dfrws.org/presentation/a-systematic-approach-to-understanding-macb-timestamps-on-unixlike-systems/

YouTube Video UCQajlJPesqmyWJDN52AZI4Q_i0zd7HtluzY

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