Digital forensics tools gather evidence from digital devices for solving cyber crimes. Here is all you should know about the best digital and computer forensics tools available today.
What is Digital Forensics?
Digital forensics is the procedure of discovery, preservation, analysis, documentation, and presentation of evidence from digital devices that can be used by the court of law to resolve cyber crimes. A cyber crime involves a digital device and a network, which may have been used to commit a crime or may be the target.
Either way, the vast collection of data these systems house could be key to finding evidence. According to research, cyber crime will incur a global cost of $10.5 trillion annually by 2025. As such, it is clear that the use of digital devices in chain-of-evidence investigations is vital.
What are Digital Forensics Tools?
With the number of cyber crimes increasing daily, investigators need digital forensics tools to help them wade through swathes of information in a secure, efficient, and lawful way.
Computer forensics tools help make the process of retrieving evidence simple and provide thorough reports which can be used for legal procedures. There are several categories of digital forensics software, and we recommend purchasing a wrapper tool—one that bundles numerous technologies into a single platform.
Top Digital Forensics Tools and Software
The Sleuth Kit (TSK) & Autopsy
The Sleuth Kit (TSK) & Autopsy are open-source digital forensics tools developed by Sleuth Kit. Autopsy is a simple, graphical user interface (GUI)-based program that enables you to effectively examine smartphones and hard drives. The software’s plug-in architecture enables you to develop custom modules in Python or Java or discover add-on modules.
TSK is a bundle of command-line tools and a C library which enables you to examine disk images and retrieve files from them. It is often used behind the scenes in Autopsy.
- You can collaborate with investigators on large cases.
- The software provides timeline analysis to help identify activity.
- With keyword search, you can discover files that mention particular terms and regular expression patterns.
- The computer forensics software collects activity from web browsers to help identify user activity.
- Registry analysis helps identify recently accessed USB devices and documents.
- LNK file analysis identifies accessed documents and shortcuts.
- The tool provides Android support to extract data from contacts, call logs, and SMS.
- The digital forensics software has an extensible reporting infrastructure that allows HTML, XLS, and Body File reports to be created for investigations.
- Support for common file systems, such as Yaffs2, ext2, ext3, ext4, ISO9660 (CD-ROM), HFS+, FAT12, FAT16, FAT32, exFAT, NTFS, and UFS from The Sleuth Kit.
- Other features include email analysis, EXIF, file type sorting, media playback, thumbnail viewer, hash set filtering, tags, Unicode strings extraction, and file type detection.
Pricing: Being open source, TSK & Autopsy are free of cost.
OpenText EnCase Forensic
OpenText EnCase Forensic by OpenText Security is a digital forensics tool that helps find, decrypt, collect, and preserve forensics data from numerous digital devices while guaranteeing evidence security and faultlessly integrating investigation workflows.
- Conduct investigations with optimized performance, comprehensive language support, advanced index searching, and robust processing speeds.
- Provides customizable templates to craft simple, yet compelling professional reports.
- The digital forensics software offers extensibility through EnScripts, which automate and streamline tasks and enable you to conduct thorough investigations.
- Workflow automation helps you easily navigate through the software and uncover evidence efficiently.
- Provides encryption support for Symantec PGP v10.3, Dell Data Protection 8.17, Bitlocker XTS-AES, and Microsoft Windows 10. You need not worry about unnecessary delays, damage, or data corruption.
- Supports Volume Shadow Snapshot (VSS) backups generated by Microsoft Windows, enabling you to retrieve corrupted, modified, or deleted files along with full volumes and unravel what may have taken place on a device before the examination.
- Supports Apple File System (APFS).
- The solution provides Apple T2 Security bypass.
Pricing: Reach out to the OpenText sales team for pricing details.
Computer Aided Investigative Environment (CAINE) is an open-source GNU/Linux live distribution. CAINE provides an all-encompassing forensics environment that is assembled to provide a friendly GUI and integrate a variety of existing software tools
- CAINE offers an interoperable environment that supports you during the phases of a digital investigation.
- You can boot CAINE from an external data storage device and run it in memory or install it on a physical or virtual system.
- In Live mode, CAINE can run on data storage devices without booting up an operating system (OS).
- CAINE 11.0, also known as Wormhole, is the latest iteration and can be used on information systems that boot Windows 10 and older OSs like Windows NT.
- The solution offers automatic extraction of timelines from RAM.
- You can import disk images in raw and advanced file format.
- You can integrate tools such as Autopsy, TSK, PhotoRec, and Wireshark.
- During the phases of collection, examination, and analysis, you must carefully preserve all examination notes. CAINE provides a simple, yet comprehensive report using these notes at the end of an investigation.
Pricing: You can use CAINE for free, as it is open source.
SIFT Workstation by SANS Institute is a bundle of open-source forensics and incident response tools, built to perform detailed forensics investigations in numerous settings. The digital forensics platform shows that digital forensics techniques and advanced incident response capabilities can be achieved using state-of-the-art open-source tools.
- You can download the SIFT Workstation VM Appliance, download and install the Ubuntu ISO file (latest version), or download and install on Windows using Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL).
- The platform provides powerful capabilities for analyzing memory images, network evidence, file systems, etc.
- SIFT Workstation VM Appliance allows you to create snapshots to prevent contamination of forensics evidence from case to case.
- File system support includes NTFS, ISO9660 CD, HFS+, raw data, swap space, RAM data, UFS1, UFS2, ext2, ext3, ext4, FAT12, FAT16, and FAT32.
- The solution provides extensive evidence image support and incident response support as well.
- Supported software includes TSK, ClamAV, Volatility framework, and Rekall framework.
- You can create a SUPER timeline using log2timeline.
- The platform provides extensive resources to learn about the various facets of the workstation.
Pricing: SIFT Workstation is free of cost.
Also read: Is Killware as Devastating as it Sounds?
The Volatility framework by Volatility Foundation is an open-source bundle of tools for retrieving digital artifacts from RAM data. Written in Python, the advanced memory forensics framework performs extraction techniques independent of the system under investigation, while offering visibility into its runtime state.
- The framework is compatible with Windows, Linux, macOS, and Android systems.
- Quick and efficient algorithms enable you to analyze RAM data from large systems without unnecessary memory consumption or overhead.
- Volatility supports many file formats, including dd, hiberfil.sys file, dump file, VMware snapshot files, E01, and FDPro.
- Reap the benefits of Volatility plugins created and maintained by the community. There are 15 contributors at the time of writing.
- You can explore kernel memory in an automated way, perform virtual machine introspection, and drive your malware sandbox.
- Analyze network-related data structures, GUI memory, console input and output buffers, and command histories.
- You can take the Malware and Memory Forensics Training course for free.
Pricing: Volatility is free.
Choosing Digital Forensics Tools
Digital forensics tools are fairly new, as live analysis of digital devices was the norm up until the early 1990s. As the complexity of digital devices grew, the need for computer forensics software to assist investigators became apparent. Today, there are several worthwhile options to choose from on the market.
We scrutinized the top five digital forensics software in this guide. However, be sure to conduct your own thorough research before purchasing a digital forensics tool.