Daily Blog #184: Artifacts from alternative file system drivers on NTFS Part 4

Artifacts from alternative file system drivers on NTFS Part 4

Hello Reader,
       In this series we've explored the POSIX namespace, how the ntfs-3g driver uses it, what default system files use it and the win32 api's interaction with it. Today let's focus on what additional artifacts exist soley within the MFT that in combination with the POSIX namespace let us identify absolutely that a non native NTFS driver wrote to the disk.

To accomplish a unique signature that reflects the actions that ntfs-3g takes when writing to a NTFS volume we need to examine three fields within a MFT file record. If you want to see this in a more interactive fashion watch last weeks Forensic Lunch where we walked through it.

1. Namespace

The Namespace can be one of 4 things that determines the encoding of the filename being stored there.The namespace as we discussed previously will be Posix or File Name Namespace 0. This on its own though does not identify a ntfs-3g written file as we've discussed in this series.

2.  LSN

The LSN or Logfile Sequence Number references the most recent change stored within the $logfile. The LSN in a native windows system writing to NTFS has full support for the $logfile and will populate this field to reflect the record entry made. The ntfs-3g driver only updates the restart area and does not populate the $logfile, because of this the LSN value will be 0 for all ntfs-3g written files. If you are looking at a pre vista system then the LSN and Namespace are the only two correlation points you have to identify ntfs-3g written files.

3. USN

The USN or Update Sequence Number references those entries written into the $USNJRNL:$J. We've talked about the USN many times in this blog and hopefully you are familiar with the basic functionality by now. In our testing we were expecting this value to be set to 0 just like the LSN but instead a 64 bit value will be assigned, we are still examining the source to determine the method use in the numbers duration but they do to seem to increase but can be duplicated. The USN values used are outside the range of valid USN Journals that we've seen. The USN number is also the offset into the USN Journal to where that last change has been recorded.

So there we go.
If you are looking at a Windows 2000/XP/2003 system than the Namespace and LSN are your points of analysis to determine if a file was written using the ntfs-3g driver.

If you are looking at a Windows Vista/7/2008 system than the Namespace, LSN and USN fields will determine if a file was written using the ntfs-3g driver.

We haven't tested windows 8 yet but will do so and write a blog to reflect when we have done so and solved what the value used in the USN field means.

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