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Daily Blog #58: Understanding the artifacts Jump Lists

Hello Reader,
         Another Sunday Funday is behind us and from it I've identified another blog series that need to be written. We are trucking along through the artifacts needed to better understand usage. We've covered LNK files, the USN Journal, USB Stor and User Assist. Today we are going to jump into Jump Lists which first made their appearance in Windows 7.

If you've never heard of Jump Lists before go here, http://www.forensicswiki.org/wiki/Jump_Lists, this blog post assumes you are familiar with them and seeks to help you better understand them. For instance I won't be explaining the difference between automatic/custom jump lists or where to find them and their structures.

If you want to read the most thorough write up of Jump Lists I've seen to date go here: http://articles.forensicfocus.com/2012/10/30/forensic-analysis-of-windows-7-jump-lists/.

An easy way to think about jump lists, though not technically accurate, is a chained series of LNK files stored on a per application basis. The biggest fundamental issue regarding Jump Lists versus the LNK files that analysts know and love is that LNK files where created, stored and maintained for the explorer shell (with the one exception I know of being Microsoft Office). Through program shourtcuts, recent documents, office application documents, etc... there is a shared set of LNK files maintained. Jump lists does not entirely replace this functionality but rather extends it allowing tracking of recently used documents from the registry to individual jump lists on a per application basis through automatic destination files.

In short, if you are analyzing a Windows 7 system and you are not parsing/analyzing the jump lists then you are missing evidence. Many up to date forensic suites are not parsing jump list data structures yet and instead will carve LNK files from custom destination lists. Get a tool that handles them correctly:

TZWorks: http://tzworks.net/prototype_page.php?proto_id=20
Woanware: http://www.woanware.co.uk/?p=265

This is good news for us as that means what documents are being accessed through an application are no longer just maintained in the registry through MRU's and we get much more data to analyze on a per file basis. Some applications, notably Microsoft Office, emulated this functionality through LNK files in prior versions of Windows but Jump Lists extends this through auto destinations. MRU keys only keep the date of the last file accessed for that MRU key and the order of last access, while automatic Jump Lists records the same type of data a LNK files does but extends it.

One of the difficulties investigators have had with jump lists was matching the appid that makes up the jump lists name back to which application it was tracking. Luckily for us Hexacorn seems to have solved this issue and made a perl script for use (Yay Perl!):
http://www.hexacorn.com/blog/2013/04/30/jumplists-file-names-and-appid-calculator/ which will allow you to generate the app-id for any given string.

So in short, and I probably will want to revisit this blog post, Jump Lists extend the analysis you did prior with LNK files and is stored on a per user basis for recent document access like LNK files, but is stored on a per application basis. One of things mentioned between all of the major sources is that jump lists are not deleted when a program is uninstalled and they would not be deleted by any system cleaner that is not 'Windows 7 aware'. So if you are not currently taking them into account in your investigations you should change that today.

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