All Things Encase

Thursday, May 5, 2011 Posted by Corey Harrell
I use a range of tools to perform digital forensics and these tools fall into different categories such as free, open source, and commercial tools. Some readers of this blog may have picked up on that Encase is one of the commercial tools in my toolbox. I thought I would share some of the interesting links I came across over the past month about Encase.

Forensic Analysis Techniques Using Encase

Lance Muller put together a couple of posts about computer forensics analysis techniques using Encase. First up is the post Basic Computer Forensic Analysis Techniques in Encase which outlines the techniques commonly used in cases and techniques specific to certain types of cases. His second post is General Forensics (using EnCase Enterprise) Flow chart and this provides some ideas on the different ways to use Encase Enterprise in support of investigations, incident response, and e-discovery.

Lance mentioned that both posts are not meant to be all inclusive lists but are to be used as starting points. He also said in one of the posts that the type of investigation will impact the techniques to use. I couldn’t agree more with his comment. To help determine what techniques to use a person should take a step back before an image is loaded into Encase or a servlet is pushed across the network. Taking a step back provides time to think about the goals of their forensic examination, the questions that need to be answered, and what data is needed to answer those questions. This quick reflection (or better yet an analysis design plan) will not only help determine what techniques/activities are needed to extract the data of interest but can also help keep the examination focused on what the customer wants or needs.

A New Option for Creating Timelines

Kristinn Gudjonsson released version 0.52 of log2timeline in April. I was checking out the change log to see what was new and one of the changes is the ENCASE_DIRLISTING input module. According to the change log, this new module imports a text file exported by Encase which contains the file listing of an image. It’s good to see more options for creating timelines. Now we have the Sleuthkit, Sleuthkit with Harlan’s timeline tools, Sleuthkit with log2timeline, FTK file listing, FTK file listing with log2timeline, Encase enscript, Encase file listing, and now the Encase file listing with log2timeline. Having options lets me test the different ways to create timelines and choose the method that best meets my needs. An additional thought that came to me as I was typing the various options was to do a write up on the different ways to create timelines. One more idea added to my blog hopper.

Encase version 7

Just in case for anyone who missed the announcements from the Guidance Software’s advertising machine, Encase version 7 is on the horizon. If you’re interested in some of the new features or changes check out Lee Whitfield’s podcast Episode 36 Encase Forensic 7 and Geoff Black’s Forensic Gremlins post Encase 7 Sneak Peek (NYC).

Besides the  layout of the user interface, two new improvements I’m also interested in are the index and email functionality. At times and in certain types of cases, I need the flexibility to search an index on the fly so I’m curious how well the new index will work. I always found the email analysis in Encase to be lacking so I'll welcome any improvements in this area. Unfortunately, the new email still lacks support for Lotus Notes version 8.X but I have other options to address this need.

Encase Version 7 Preview

Speaking of wanting to see the new features in Encase 7, Guidance released the Encase 7 preview software last weekend. Paul Bobby of SecureArtisan has been testing the software and sharing his thoughts on his blog. Encase v7 Preview, Encase v7 Conditions, and Tagging in Encase v7 are his posts so far. Hopefully I’ll find some time over the next week to play with my preview software. I was a little disappointed to see that the software is restricted to the evidence files provided by Guidance. I was looking forward to throwing my images and email files at the new version to see how it performs … at least in the meantime I can see the new layout.
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