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RE: First Investigation - Need advice
From: "Ken Keeler" <kelekelr () hotmail com>
Date: Mon, 15 Mar 2004 12:17:14 -0600


First thing you might want to do differently is to not videotape everything. Every single detail of what you do would be subject to review. Regardless if anything was done incorrectly the defense/opposition has the chance to critique and question every single action which you then have to explain and defend. I would cancel the videotape, especially since it sounds like you will be using the software for the forensics investigation for the first time. I don't know the particulars on the search and seizure so maybe you would want videotape for reasons other than showing the forensics/evidence seizure steps taken. If you don't need videotape for some other reason how about taking digital photo's of the scene and the steps you took like sealing the drives in a bag. Photo's provide a dated snapshot in time of the scene yet does not provide every single nuance for debate.

Do a google search for "chain of evidence", do some reading on that. Have a chain of evidence document to catalog your evidence (you can find examples by googling for that as well).

Also consider where the evidence is stored overnight and over time. Is it in a locked room with access control , is there a safe, a cage or a locking filing cabinet inside of the room for storage of the media/evidence? How many people have access to the evidence or potentially could have access, is there an audit log of room access? You want to have access to the evidence restricted.

Documenting (have some sort of log file for this) each step of what you do during the forensics investigation is a solid idea.

Make sure your HD image is a bit for bit image, DD is free just make sure that you have clean copy from somewhere, MD5 it to be sure. Also you can use CryptCat a more secure NetCat during your transfer of the DD image. Be positive that you are not writing any data (write blocker) to the HD that you are aquiring.

As far as which tools to use doing the forensics investigation that are free or low cost... Maybe someone else can provide you with some ideas on that. Something to seriously consider is wether or not a free or low cost tool has ever been tested in court and if was acceptable... If not and you use it and it is challenged in court do you have the knowledge and expertise in forensics and with that tool to prove that it does provide forensically sound evidence? A free tool may end being more expensive than you thought.

Why not ask local/state/federal law enforcement for tips on the right way to do this? Many law enforcement agencies are interested in building relationships with the private sector, you may be able to help them out one of these days.. If you explain what and why you are asking you very well may find someone that can at least provide you some good general guidelines.

I wouldn't want my first aquisition or analysis to be the real thing, I would do some practice runs with some drives before going live. As far as how hard can it be... The best advice I could give you is to hire someone to do this for you this time and send someone from your company to training on court tested commercial forensics software (if you would like my recommendation on which product let me know, I been to multiple courses each at I would say the top two forensics vendors out there), forensics is not something to throw together at the last minute...

Good luck to you.
(The forensics list might get you some more detailed responses than the basics list)

-----Original Message-----
From: forensic Helpwanted [mailto:forensichelpwanted () fsmail net]
Sent: Friday, March 12, 2004 1:30 AM
To: security-basics () securityfocus com
Subject: First Investigation - Need advice


I have been tasked with carrying out a search and seize with the aid of a court order. I can't ask local law enforcement as it is a civil matter, but I need a little help and figured this should be a good place to find it.

I do have some knowledge and experience from when I was studying for the CISSP exam, I passed, but do not have any forensic hands-on experience.

What I am basically looking for is a list of tools that I can get my hands on quickly and cheaply, and if possible a checklist or methodology to work to.

I know this should be left to the experts, but time constraints and budget mean this is not possible, besides how hard can it be. <g>

We have 2 locations to "raid" simultaneously, so I will be at one site, and a colleague at another.

The plan thus far is....

Video record everything from entry to the building, to sealing a image of the machines in question into polythene type bags, and signing over the top of them. Also, the investigation into the data will be recorded on video.

Two images will be taken on site, one for sealing in the bag, another as the "working copy". These will be MD5 checksummed, and the hash recorded on paper. The sealed copy will go to a secure storage location for appearance in court, and the working copy used to gather evidence. The original will be returned to its owner.

Each and every step taken, will be recorded, and witnessed, and signed off by the person who takes the action, the person who witnesses, and the person who recorded the activity.

All personnel involved will be available for court dates should it come to that. But we strongly believe that the required information will be gained from one of the two locations, and that will be enough for the "plaintiff" to present to the "defendant" so that a settlement can be reached.

Have I missed anything fundamental? Are there some other steps I should take? What tools, methods should be used to gather the images and interrogate the images when gathered?

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