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This is an overview of available tools for forensic investigators. Please click on the name of any tool for more details.

Disk Imaging Tools

Hardware imagers

Imaging Memory

At CanSec West 05, Michael Becher, Maximillian Dornseif, and Christian N. Klein discussed an exploit which uses DMA to read arbitrary memory locations of a firewire-enabled system. The paper lists more details. The exploit is run on an iPod running Linux. This can be used to grab screen contents.

In theory, this could be used with the ... to send through an exploit code that would cause the system to dump the contents of its hard drive back to the iPod.

Unix-based imagers

A program that converts and copies files, is one of the oldest Unix programs. I can copy data from any Unix "file" (including a raw partition) to any other Unix "file" (including a disk file or a raw partition). This is one of the oldest of the imaging tools, and produces raw image files. Extended into dcfldd.
A version of dd created by the Digital Computer Forensics Laboratory. dcfldd is an enhanced version of GNU dd with features useful for forensics and security, such as calculating MD5 or SHA-1 hashes on the fly and faster disk wiping.
A tool similar to dd, but unlike dd it will continue reading the next sector, if it stumbles over bad sectors it cannot read.
GNU ddrescue
iLook IXimager
The primary imaging tool for iLook. It is Linux based and produces compressed authenticatable image files that may only be read in the iLook analysis tool.
Another dd-like tool. It is supposed to be faster in certain situations.
Part of the AFF system, aimage can create either a raw file or an AFF file. It can optionally compress and calculate MD5 or SHA-1 hash residues while the data is being copied.
Specializes in Mac analysis, now a branch of the BSD family tree.

Windows-based imagers

X-Ways Forensics
Has some limited imaging capabilities. The output is raw format.
X-Ways Replica
Performs hard disk cloning and imaging. The output is raw format.
FTK can read forensic, uncompressed Ghost images.
FTK Imager by Access Data
Can image and convert many image formats. Including E0* and DD. Also a free tool.
Can image with out dongle plugged in. Only images to E0* file.
Can image and convert many file formats. Also builds mobile toolkit.
The IRS's forensic tool. Available free of charge to law enforcement agencies and certain government agencies. iLook is a set of tools and utilities designed and built to forensic standards. Primary imaging tool is a Linux-based custom boot that produces forensically authenticatable compressed output. The imager is generated from a licensed copy of iLook. Version 8 is the currently distributed version of iLook. iLook is not available to the general public.
A complete set of tools for Windows (and handheld) products.
Images and searches FAT12, FAT16, FAT32 and all NTFS files.
Their ultimate tool lets you "READ, ACQUIRE, DECRYPT, ANALYZE and REPORT (R.A.D.A.R.)."
A tool for imaging and analyzing disks.
Gargoyle investigator scans for illicit data and steganographic images.

Data Recovery Tools

Salvation Data
Claims to have a program that can read the "bad blocks" of Maxtor drives with proprietary commands.
RAID Reconstructor
Runtime Software's RAID Reconstructor will reconstruct RAID Level 0 (Striping) and RAID Level 5 drives. People who have used it, love it.
ByteBack Data Recovery Investigative Suite v4.0
Now with UDMA, ATA & SATA support, memory management and greater ease and control of Partition and MBR manipulations, ByteBack continues to uphold it's viability as the computer forensics and recovery application of professionals.
BringBack(tm) offers easy to use, inexpensive, and highly successful data recovery for Windows(tm) & Linux (ext2) operating systems and digital images stored on memory cards, etc.

Disk Analysis Tools

Linux-based Tools

SMART, by ASR Data

Windows-based Tools

EnCase, by Guidance Software
Forensic Toolkit, by AccessData
ILook Investigator, by Elliot Spencer and U.S. Dept of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation (IRS)
Safeback by NTI and Armor Forensics
BringBack by Tech Assist, Inc.

Open Source Tools

A library for working with disk images. Currently AFFLIB supports raw, AFF, AFD, and EnCase file formats. Work to support segmented raw, iLook, and other formats is ongoing.
Tries to guess the primary partition table of a PC-type hard disk in case the primary partition table in sector 0 is damaged, incorrect or deleted.

Forensics Live CDs

A LiveCD built on top of Knoppix.
Also contains a Cygwin environment for use on a running Windows system (w/o rebooting).
FCCU Gnu/Linux Boot CD
Also a LiveCD built on top of Knoppix with a lot of tools with forensic purpose.
It leaves the target devices unaltered (it does not use the swap partitions found on the devices) nor does it automount partitions.

Metadata Extraction Tools

Displays or modifies Exif data in JPEG files.
Extracts metadata from various Microsoft Word files (doc). Can also convert doc files to other formats such as HTML or plain text.
pdfinfo (part of the xpdf package) displays some metadata of PDF files.
Examines Thumbs.db files.

File Analysis Tools

Strings will print the strings of printable characters in files. It allows choosing different charactersets (ASCII, UNICODE). It is a quick way to browse through files/partitions/... in order to look for words, filenames, keywords etc.
The file command determines the file type of a given file, depending on its contents and not on e.g. its extension or filename. In order to do that, it uses a magic configuration file that identifies filetypes.

Network Forensics Tools


Anti-forensics Tools

Ontrack Data Eraser
A tool that allows one to modify all four NTFS timestamp (MACE) values.
A tool to hide files within the slack space of the NTFS file system.

Securely deleting data

CyberScrub Privacy Suite
This program securely erases selected data, wipes free space, powerful scheduling capabilities.
CyberScrub cyberCide
This program securely erases all data from drives or partitions.
Part of GNU coreutils.

See also

Other Tools

VMware Player
A free player for VMware virtual machines that will allow them to "play" on either Windows or Linux-based systems.
VMware Server
The free server product, for setting up/configuring/running VMware virtual machine.Important difference being that it can run 'headless', i.e. everything in background.

Hex Editors