Computer Forensics and the Menomonie Police Department

Technology moves at a fast pace. It moves ahead. The majority of people have computers now,” said Sergeant Andy Crouse of the Menomonie Police Department (MPD). The use of computers in law enforcement is growing, whether the crime was committed via computers — such as distributing CP — or whether the evidence in a drug case was retrieved from a hard drive and used to prosecute the criminal. Crime now “knows no tax districts, jurisdictions or boundaries,” said Crouse. Chief Todd Chaney of the Altoona Police Department, who often works with the computer forensics experts in Menomonie as well as other area law enforcement personnel, stated that computer forensics capabilities are “a critical need in law enforcement today, and are also a critical deficiency.” Law enforcement at all levels and jurisdictions, from local community police to state criminologists to federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, are finding themselves short of staff, short of equipment and, in some cases, short of technical training when it comes to recent developments in computer forensics…

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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.

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

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