Hackfest 2023 - Back to the Future

Exploring RAM Forensic Analysis for Effective Digital Investigations
2023-10-13, 14:30–15:20, Track #1

In the field of digital forensics, the analysis of volatile memory, commonly known as RAM, has emerged as a powerful technique for uncovering critical digital evidence. As cybercriminals become increasingly sophisticated in their methods, traditional disk-based forensic approaches may miss crucial information stored solely in the volatile memory. This talk aims to shed light on the significance of RAM forensic analysis and its role in modern investigations.
During the presentation, we will explore the intricacies of RAM forensic analysis, from its foundations to advanced techniques used to extract valuable artifacts. Attendees will gain insights into the wealth of information stored in RAM, such as running processes, network connections, open files, and cryptographic keys, and how it can be leveraged to reconstruct events and attribute actions to specific actors.
The talk will cover a range of topics, including the acquisition and preservation of RAM, memory imaging, analysis methodologies, and the utilization of specialized tools for efficient examination. Real-world case studies will be presented to showcase the practical application of RAM forensic analysis in various scenarios, such as malware investigations, data breaches, and incident response.
Furthermore, the presentation will delve into the challenges and limitations associated with RAM forensic analysis,

By attending this talk, forensic professionals, incident responders, and cybersecurity experts will gain a deeper understanding of the immense value of RAM forensic analysis in modern investigations. They will acquire practical knowledge, techniques, and tools that can enhance their capabilities in uncovering digital footprints, attributing actions, and ultimately, advancing the field of digital forensics.

As a Threat Hunter, RAM forensic analysis is crucial in carrying out digital investigations for Rapid Incident Response as I often need to respond swiftly to emerging threats and security incidents and RAM forensic analysis enables quick access to volatile memory, providing valuable insights into the state of the system at the time of the incident. This allows Threat Hunters to identify active processes, network connections, malicious artifacts, and other critical indicators of compromise, facilitating faster incident response

Sophisticated attackers employ advanced techniques to evade detection, such as fileless malware and memory-resident threats. RAM forensic analysis enables me as a Threat Hunter to identify and analyze these stealthy attacks by examining memory artifacts and uncovering hidden indicators of compromise. This empowers Threat Hunters to detect and mitigate advanced threats that may bypass traditional security measures.RAM contains a wealth of digital artifacts, including running processes, network connections, and cryptographic keys. These artifacts can provide crucial insights into the activities and intentions of threat actors.

I leverage RAM forensic analysis techniques to extract and analyze these artifacts, enabling deeper investigation and threat intelligence gathering.Some threats specifically target and reside in memory to carry out malicious activities. By focusing on memory analysis, I proactively hunt for memory-based threats, such as in-memory malware, code injection, or process hollowing techniques. This approach allows for the detection and remediation of threats that may go undetected by traditional signature-based security solutions. After an incident, I often engage in post-incident analysis and attribution to understand the root cause, scope, and impact of the attack. RAM forensic analysis provides valuable forensic evidence that can aid in this process. Memory artifacts can reveal attacker behaviors, persistence mechanisms, and even clues regarding their identity or affiliation. This information enhances the ability to attribute attacks to specific threat actors or groups. Through this presentation, I want to emphasize on how Memory forensics is a powerful technique to augment every cybersecurity professional with threat detection and response capabilities. By leveraging memory analysis, one can gain deeper insights into active threats, enhance incident response speed, and proactively hunt for memory-based attacks, ultimately strengthening their organization's overall cybersecurity posture.

The target audience for this talk on RAM forensic analysis can include Digital Forensic Analysts, Threat Hunters, Incident Responders, Cybersecurity Professionals, Law Enforcement Personnel and Security Researchers.

Flow of the Talk:

Introduction (5 minutes):
● Overview of the significance of RAM forensic analysis in digital investigations
● Explanation of the objectives and structure of the talk
Understanding Volatile Memory (5 minutes):
● Definition and explanation of volatile memory
● Discussion of the types of information stored in volatile memory
Memory Acquisition Techniques (10 minutes)
● Live memory acquisition: Explanation of the process and its advantages
● Memory imaging: Overview of creating forensic images of volatile memory
Introduction to Memory Analysis Tools (5 minutes)
● Overview of popular memory analysis tools such as Volatility
● Explanation of the functionalities and capabilities of these tools
Analyzing Memory Artifacts (10 minutes)
● Examination of key artifacts found in volatile memory
● Demonstration of analyzing running processes, network connections, and open files
● Showcase of extracting cryptographic keys and sensitive data from memory

Challenges and Mitigation Strategies (5 minutes)
● Overview of challenges faced in RAM forensic analysis
Conclusion and Takeaways (5 minutes)
● Recap of key points discussed throughout the talk
● Emphasis on the value of RAM forensic analysis in digital investigations
● Encouragement for attendees to apply these techniques in their own work
Q&A Session (5 minutes)
Opportunity for the audience to ask questions and seek clarification on any topic covered in the talk

Key Takeaways:

- Memory Analysis Tools: Explore popular memory analysis tools like Volatility, and understand their functionalities and capabilities for efficient analysis of volatile memory.

- Analyzing Memory Artifacts: Discover the types of valuable artifacts stored in volatile memory, including running processes, network connections, open files, cryptographic keys, and sensitive data, and learn techniques for extracting and analyzing these artifacts.

- Detection of Memory-based Threats: Understand the concept of memory-based threats, such as in-memory malware and code injection, and learn proactive hunting techniques to detect and mitigate these stealthy threats.

- Overcoming Challenges: Identify the challenges faced in RAM forensic analysis, including anti-forensic techniques and encryption, and gain insights into effective mitigation strategies and best practices.

- Practical Application: Recognize the practical application of RAM forensic analysis in digital investigations, and be inspired to leverage these techniques to enhance incident response, threat hunting, and forensic analysis in your own work.

By the end of the talk, attendees will have a comprehensive understanding of RAM forensic analysis, its technical aspects, its value in digital investigations, and the practical knowledge to effectively utilize this technique in their own work.

Are you releasing a tool? – No