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Daily Blog #219: RHEL forensics part 1

Hello Reader,
      If you read this weekends Sunday Funday winning answer you learned a lot about how to do forensics on a redhat enterprise linux server. As with anything we do in digital forensics though, there is always more to learn. Today we start a series on what we can do to go beyond this weeks winning answer, which was very good. Let's start by looking into a tool that Hal Pomeranz introduced us to on last weeks Forensic Lunch.

Hal's tool, mlocate-time, allows us to parse the mlocate database for all of the files, directories and timestamps for all files that existed on the system as of the last mlocate database update. By default there is a chron job that is set to run daily to update the mlocate database so the live data will only contain those files that existed since the last daily cron job run. Comparing the files known to exist in the mlocate database to the files live on the current system can reveal files that have been deleted, but what we want to look at is the recovery of past mlocate databases. There are two sources for these:

1. Hope there are backups of the system stored somewhere. From the backups we can extract out all copies of the mlocate database and then parse them with Hal's tool.

2. Recover the deleted inode or carve them out of unallocated space. While on the lunch Hal tested and confirmed that each time the database is updated it deletes the old database and creates a new one. That means that all the old locate databases and their timestamps are either recoverable inodes or carvable data blocks allowing you to bring back the proof of the prior existence of files and timestamps on your system. This is not just true for RHEL but other linux distributions making use of mlocate as well.

Tomorrow let's get into what the data contained with mlocate can do for our investigation and end with some mlocate database reovery. I'm downloading a RHEL v5 evaluation iso tonight to start my tests!
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