In the case of digital forensic, data present in the digital assets serves as strong evidence. The systems’ memory may have critical data of attacks, like account credentials, encryption keys, messages, emails, non-cacheable internet history, network connections, endpoint connected devices, etc. Memory forensics provides insights into network connections, executed files or commands, and runtime system activity. To execute any program, it must be first loaded on the memory, which makes it critical for forensic to identify attacks.
Memory forensic tools and skills are in high demand due to rapidly growing sophisticated attacks. The tools like antivirus and anti-malware serve no purpose in detecting malware, which is directly written into a computer’s physical memory, i.e., RAM. In that case, security teams have to depend on memory forensic tools to protect their valuable business information from stealthy attacks like DoS and fileless.
Memory Forensic Fundamentals
What is volatile data?
Volatile data is any data that is stored temporarily on a computer device while it is running and would be lost if the device shuts down for any reason. It exists in temporary cache files, RAM and system files. For example, if you are working on any text file without saving it in any persistent memory on the computer, then there is every possibility of losing the file in case if the system closes. Volatile data also contain the last unsaved actions performed in a document.
Tools for memory forensics –
Traditional security systems can analyze typical data sources and can protect against malware in ROM, email, CD/ DVD, hard drives, etc. But they fail to analyze volatile data stored in execution. The volatile data may still be at risk as malware can be uploaded in the memory locations reserved for authorized programs.
The latest security systems are now equipped with memory forensics and behavioral analysis capabilities. These sophisticated tools can identify malware, rootkits, zero-days and other data present in the system’s physical memory. Memory forensic tools can provide a considerable amount of threat intelligence from the system’s physical memory.
Sources of physical memory for digital forensics are as follows –
Decrypted programs – The threat intelligence in case of encrypted malicious files identifies and attributes threats. The executed encrypted malicious file shall decrypt self in order to run.
Usernames and passwords – The credentials entered by the users to access their accounts can be stored in the physical memory of your system.
Content on the window – Content on chat windows, clipboards, emails, instant messengers, form field entries, etc. can be traced for information.
Thought the above-listed sources are limited, they signify their contribution into the memory forensics capabilities and their offerings. There are certain open source and commercial tools designed to conduct memory forensics. Based on the security needs, the decision concerning security solutions for memory forensics capabilities is decided. The decision to use commercial software of open source tools also differs according to the security requirements.
There are different tools to investigate computers for breaches, vulnerabilities, crime, cyberattacks, etc. It requires a digital forensic investigator having knowledge of investigation processes, tools, and techniques and with a skill to investigate efficiently. The Certified Hacking and Forensic Investigator (C|HFI) program prepare students with the skills to conduct investigations using ground-breaking digital forensic technologies.