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Dead-box forensics

Dead-box forensics

Dead-box forensics definition

Dead-box forensics is an investigative process involving reviewing and analyzing offline digital devices and systems due to an incident (e.g., data breach). Practitioners look at the data stored on devices like computers, smartphones, tablets, or storage media after they have been powered off and disconnected from a network. Security teams use dead-box forensics to respond to suspected insider attacks and identify potential culprits.

See also: computer forensics

How dead-box forensics works

  • Identification. The investigator identifies the digital device or system to analyze (e.g., a computer, laptop, smartphone, external storage media, or any other relevant device).
  • Acquiring data. The forensic investigator creates a bit-by-bit copy of the data present on the device, ensuring that the original data remains untouched and unaltered. Specialized tools and techniques are used to ensure the integrity of the acquired image.
  • Preservation. Once the forensic image is created, the investigator takes steps to preserve its integrity and prevent modifications. The investigator ensures the acquired image is securely stored and protected against unauthorized access or tampering.
  • Examination. The forensic examiner analyzes the image using specialized software and tools. They explore the file system, application data, logs, metadata, and other relevant areas to locate and extract potential evidence (e.g., documents, emails, chat logs, images, videos, or browsing history).
  • Recovery. The investigator often recovers deleted or hidden data during the examination phase. Recovering these files helps them retrieve information that the user may have intentionally or accidentally deleted.
  • Analysis. The extracted data is analyzed to piece together a narrative or reconstruct events. This stage involves examining timestamps, file associations, communication records, user activity, and other relevant information. The investigator looks for patterns, correlations, or anomalies that may help understand the sequence of events or identify potential suspects.
  • Documentation and reporting. The investigator documents the findings in a comprehensive report. The report details the forensic procedures followed, the evidence discovered, and the conclusions drawn. Maintaining clear and accurate documentation to support the investigation’s credibility in legal proceedings is crucial.

When are dead-box forensics used?

  • Post-incident investigation
  • Data breaches
  • Criminal investigations
  • Employee misconduct
  • Civil litigation

Further reading

Ultimate digital security

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