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Daily Blog #163: Solving Sunday Funday 12/1/13 part 1

Hello Reader,
           This weeks Sunday Funday seems a good candidate for further explanation given the small number of responses received. So this week lets go through the artifacts I would look at (and have looked at in real cases) to solve this challenge. As a reminder here was the questions asked:

Please detail how on a Windows 7 system running Outlook 2007 you can determine:
1. What attachments were accessed in the last two weeks
2. When attachments were accessed
3. How many times attachments were accessed

So let's start with Question 1. How do you determine what attachments were accessed in the last two weeks on Windows 7 using Outlook 2007. In prior versions of Outlook and Windows this was a pretty easy task. As the winner pointed out you can go to the temporary directory where Outlook will extract attachments to see what exists. Standard protocol prior to his combination of OS and Outlook versions would then allow you to see what number is appended to the end of the file name.

For example if an attachment was named 'TopSecret.doc' and accessed three times over a period of time you would see the following attachments extracted in the OLK directory for older versions of Outlook/Windows:
TopSecret.doc
TopSecret(2).doc
TopSecret(3).doc

You would then look at the Filename timestamps in the MFT to determine when the attachment was accessed as Outlook will reset the Stdinfo timestamps to the time the email was sent. Outlook would rarely clean up after itself in prior versions leaving great evidence for quite some time.

This protocol is not as useful as it used to be for the following reasons:

1. Outlook 2007 will delete an attachment when it is closed from the Content.Outlook directory. If Outlook closes while the attachment is still open then the attachment will remain there.
2. Windows 7 will defrag once a week meaning older attachments deleted entries will be purged from the MFT
3. Outlook 2007 will extract two copies of the attachment, up to three on preview and open, meaning you can't rely only on the number after the filename.

So we are left looking for alternate sources, the one we rely on the most now for these accesses is the USN Journal. The USN Journal tracks all file creations, renames, opens, closes, changes and deletions. As such we filter the USN for the MFT reference number of the Content.Outlook folder to find all the attachments opened within it, timestamped to their opening. You might be tempted at this point to take the time of open and close of a file to indicate the total time open, but this can be a red herring as our testing has shown that file handles are closed while a process is backgrounded and then reopened later when activity resumes.

Tomorrow I'll go into detail on the artifacts left in the USN.

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