Incident response tools for Unix, part two: file-system tools

Friday, 17 October 2003, 12:20 PM EST

This is the second article in a three part series on tools that are useful during incident response and investigation after a compromise has occurred on a Linux, OpenBSD, or Solaris system. The first article focused on system tools, this one focuses on file system tools, and the next article will discuss network and other tools. The information used in these articles is based on OpenBSD 3.2, Debian GNU/Linux 3.0 (woody), RedHat 8.0 (psyche), and Solaris 9 (aka Solaris 2.9 or SunOS 5.9). The tools focused on are generally tools that are available with the operating system, although there are some that may not be native to a given system that are discussed as well. If a tool that is discussed isn't available on the operating system you're using, the information on acquiring tools in the references section might help you out.

The tools that are covered in this article are all tools that execute in user-space. If an attacker has compromised the system and installed a kernel module that hides his activities, or a root-kit that changes the binaries on the system, the results that the tools below provide are likely to not be accurate. This is one of the reasons that offline analysis should be performed after data from the live system has been secured. This live data shouldn't be trusted as valid until it has been corroborated. Part of the reason that so many tools are being covered is to familiarize the reader with multiple tools that do similar things so that one can check a tool's version of reality with other tools. It's important that those responding to incidents not prematurely rule out possibilities and that they remain skeptical.

It can't be emphasized enough that these tools should be executed from read-only media or on a secure system that is reserved for offline analysis. Using read-only media ensures that the tools haven't changed since they were stored on the read-only media, making it less likely that an attacker has compromised the tools.

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