Research Topics

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Interested in doing research in computer forensics? Looking for a master's topic, or just some ideas for a research paper? Here is my list. Please feel free to add your own ideas.

Research Projects

Flash Forensics

Flash storage devices offer opportunities for recovering information that is not visible by going beneath the logical layer visible to users and most operating systems.

  • Access the physical layer of SD cards and/or USB flash devices. Reverse-engineer the Flash Translation Layer to find deleted data and files.

Necessary skills: social engineering the flash vendors; kernel programming; reverse-engineering.

Stream Forensics

  • Process the entire disk with one pass, or at most two, to minimize seek time.

Evidence Falsification

  • Automatically detect falsified digital evidence.


  • Detect and diagnose sanitization attempts.

Programming Projects

SleuthKit Enhancements

SleuthKit is the popular open-source system for forensics and data recovery.

  • Add support for a new file system:
  • Enhance support for an existing file system:
    • EXT4
    • Add support for NTFS encrypted files.
    • Report the physical location on disk of compressed files.
  • Write a FUSE-based mounter for SleuthKit, so that disk images can be forensically mounted using TSK. (I've already started on this if you want the code.)

Necessary skills: C programming and filesystem familiarity.

fiwalk Enhancements

  • Rewrite the metadata extraction system.
  • Extend fiwalk to report the NTFS "inodes."

Timeline Analysis

Write a new timeline viewer that supports:

  • Logfile fusion (with offsets)
  • Logfile correlation
  • View logfiles in the frequency domain.

Online Social Network Analysis

  • Find and download in a forensically secure manner all of the information in a social network (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) associated with a targeted individual.
  • Determine who is searching for a targeted individual. This might be done with a honeypot, or documents with a tracking device in them, or some kind of covert Facebook App.

Cell Phone Exploitation


  • Image the contents of a cell phone physical memory using the JTAG interface.


  • Develop a tool for reassembling information in a cell phone memory

Corpora Development

Realistic Disk Corpora

There is need for realistic corpora that can be freely redistributed but do not contain any confidential personally identifiable information (PII).

These disk images may be either of an external drive or of a system boot drive. The drive images should have signs of wear --- that is, they should have resident files, deleted files, partially overwritten files, contiguous files, and fragmented files.

From DFRWS 2005 Frank Adelstein (ATC-NY), Yun Gao and Golden G. Richard III (University of New Orleans): Automatically Creating Realistic Targets for Digital Forensics Investigation

Realistic Network Traffic

Generating realistic network traffic requires constructing a test network and either recording interactions within the network or with an external network.