The first digital forensic software tool capable of automatically reassembling fragments of graphic images, even when information regarding the locations of the fragments no longer exists, has been developed. The tool will greatly enhance the amount of evidence that can be gathered during digital forensic investigations such as those involving CP and counterfeiting…Xolide Media and CyberSecurity Institute have developed the first digital forensic software tool capable of automatically reassembling fragments of graphic images, even if information regarding the locations of the fragments no longer exists. The two companies have been collaborating on the project, called FERS (Fragmented Evidence Recovery Suite) now for over a year.
File fragmentation occurs when parts of a file are stored in non-contiguous areas of a hard drive or other form of media. Attempts to recover and reassemble these fragments using current methods can take hundreds of hours when dealing with an average size hard drive. Because of this, important evidence is often not recovered during an investigation.
â€œThe FERS will greatly enhance the amount of evidence that can be gathered during digital forensic investigations such as those involving CP and counterfeiting, â€œ said Steve Hailey, President and CEO of CyberSecurity Institute. â€œIâ€™ve never seen capability like this in any forensic tool. What used to be an insurmountable task can now be completed within minutes,â€ said Hailey.
David and Michael Martinek of Xolide Media started working on the tool with Steve Hailey after attending a digital forensics class that Hailey teaches. â€œWe saw how difficult and time consuming it was to reassemble fragmented files using current tools,â€ said David Martinek. â€œWith our knowledge of graphic file formats, we knew we could come up with a solution,â€ Martinek said. Michael Martinek, the lead developer of the program commented: â€œThis has been by far the most difficult project we’ve worked on to date, but everyone involved has been consistently impressed with the results. We’re hopeful the law enforcement community will be able to embrace this tool and benefit from it.â€
FERS has the capability to identify when known contraband such as CP has been stored on hard drives and other media by finding a single fragment of the file – all of the fragments related to a file do not need to be found. The tool also has the capability to display partial graphic images when some of the fragments are missing.
CyberSecurity Institute and Xolide Media will be presenting the FERS to a group of local and federal law enforcement officials this month that will be testing the tool and providing feedback. A finalized version is expected in approximately six months. The two companies are also looking for funding sources for continued development and to provide training and certification on the tool to those in the law enforcement community.