Reconstruction of falsified computer logs for digital forensics investigations

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Reconstruction of falsified computer logs for digital forensics investigations

Australian Computer Society
  • 080303 Computer System Security
  • Digital Forensics
  • Computer Logs
  • Event Correlation


Digital forensics investigations aim to find evidence that helps confirm or disprove a hypothesis about an alleged computer-based crime. However, the ease with which computer-literate criminals can falsify computer event logs makes the prosecutor's job highly challenging. Given a log which is suspected to have been falsified or tampered with, a prosecutor is obliged to provide a convincing explanation for how the log may have been created. Here we focus on showing how a suspect computer event log can be transformed into a hypothesised actual sequence of events, consistent with independent, trusted sources of event orderings. We present two algorithms which allow the effort involved in falsifying logs to be quantified, as a function of the number of `moves' required to transform the suspect log into the hypothesised one, thus allowing a prosecutor to assess the likelihood of a particular falsification scenario. The first algorithm always produces an optimal solution but, for reasons of efficiency, is suitable for short event logs only. To deal with the massive amount of data typically found in computer event logs, we also present a second heuristic algorithm which is considerably more efficient but may not always generate an optimal outcome.

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