Linux Memory Forensics: Dissecting the User Space Process Heap

by Frank Block and Andreas Dewald

The analysis of memory during a forensic investigation is often an important step to reconstruct events. While prior work in this field has mostly concentrated on information residing in the kernel space (process lists, network connections, and so on) and in particular on the Microsoft Windows operating system, this work focuses on Linux user space processes as they might also contain valuable information for an investigation. Because a lot of process data is located in the heap, this work in the first place concentrates on the analysis of Glibc’s heap implementation and on how and where heap related information is stored in the virtual memory of Linux processes that use the Glibc heap implementation. Up to now, the heap was mostly considered a large cohesive memory region from a memory forensics perspective, making it rather hard manual work to identify relevant information inside.

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