Using Santa To Augment Forensic Investigations

Gary: Hi. The title of this talk is ‘He’s Making a List, and We’re Checking it Twice: Santa for Forensic Analysis’. I want to point out that it was very difficult coming up with this title. We had many runner-ups, including ‘I’m Telling You Why: Santa as a Forensics Tool’, ‘He Sees You When You’re Happy and Knows Just What You [Take]’, and ‘I Saw… Santa Claus’. None of those washed out, and ‘He’s Making a list, and We’re Checking it Twice’ is the title.

But you’re probably wondering who we are. I’m Gary. I’m on the Digital Forensics team at Google. I handle all security incidents, with a specialty on [00:53] last couple of years, and that’s kind of how I [fell into Santa]. And before that, I worked in the Detection team at Google, and before that, I did detection for the Federal Reserve’s National Incident Response team.

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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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