Monday, January 28, 2013

Why "BinMode"?

You may be wondering why I've started posting articles to my blog with titles that start with "BinMode" and "There Are Four Lights".

The "BinMode" posts are dedicated to deeply technical posts; the name comes from the fact that sometimes I'll write a Perl script that requires me to open a file using binmode(), so that I can parse the file on a binary level. These are generally posts that go beyond the tools, which tend to provide a layer of abstraction between the data and analyst.  I feel that it's important for analysts to understand what data is available to them, so that they can make better decisions as to which tool to use to extract and process that data.

An example of this is the recent work I've done parsing the Java deployment cache index (*.idx) files.  Beyond opening these files in a hex editor, one resource that I had access to in order to assist me in parsing the files is this source code page:  Another resource that became available later in the process is the format specification that Mark Woan documented. What these resources show is that within the binary data, there is potentially some extremely valuable information.  This information might be most useful during a root cause analysis investigation, perhaps to determine the initial infection vector of malware, or how a compromise occurred.

The "Four Lights" articles are partly a nod to the inner geek (and Star Trek fan) in all of us, but they're also to address something that may be lesser known, or perhaps seen as a misconception within the digital forensic analysis community.  The title alludes to an episode of ST:TNG, during which his captors attempted to get the greatest starship say that there were only three lights, when, in fact, there were four.

If there is a particular topic that you'd like me to expand upon, or if there's something that you'd like to see addressed, feel free to leave a comment here, or to send me an email.

Interested in Windows DF training?  Check it out: Timeline Analysis, 4-5 Feb; Windows Forensic Analysis, 11-12 Mar.  Be sure to check the WindowsIR Training Page for updates.

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