Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Intruder Alert: Method Provides Double Computer Crime-Solving Evidence


Like an episode of "CSI: Computers," a UF researcher has developed a technique that gives digital detectives twice the forensic evidence they now have to catch all kinds of hackers, from curious teenagers to disgruntled employees to agents of foreign governments.

Writing in the current issue of the International Journal of Digital Evidence, UF doctoral student Mark Foster proposes a new and improved method of computer crime solving, called “process forensics.” “If a guy walks into a bank and robs it, leaving footprints behind or his fingerprints on the counter, the forensic analyst would come in and find those traces of what happened,” said Foster. In the same way, process forensics merges two existing types of digital evidence – intrusion-detection and checkpointing technology – to give an investigator the most possible information to crack a case, said Foster, a computer science and engineering student conducting the research for his dissertation with UF professor of computer science Joseph Wilson, who co-wrote the paper. “If you detect the intruder – or even if you’re just suspicious that an intruder’s around – you start creating checkpoints,” Foster said. “And then later, those checkpoints will serve to give us some forensics.”

Checkpoints are essentially periodic snapshots of a running computer program, or process. Programmers use them as a safety backup – if the power goes out while a program is still running, they can return to the most recent checkpoint rather than starting over from the beginning.

Many current programs don’t have built-in checkpointing technology, creating more work for programmers, Foster said. So he developed a technique that automatically creates checkpoints within a program. After working separately on computer security and intrusion-detection software, he realized that combining checkpoints with intrusion detection would create an efficient forensics tool, he said. “If the photographs are taken at the right times, then we can see how they got in, what was tampered with,” Foster said.

Foster targets intruders who want to break into systems that are host-based – or centrally located in one primary computer, which is then linked to numerous satellite workstations. “You can have a scenario where user Bob – he’s malicious, he’s tired of class, and he wants to try to mess with everybody. In a multiuser environment, you’ve got to have boundaries set up and once you have those, somebody wants to come along and get through them.”

One way for an evil-minded hacker to break into a host-based computer system is to sneak in through a “hole,” a flaw in a running program the hacker can exploit to take control of the program, run his own programs or generally gum up the works, Foster said. This type of attack is called a buffer overflow attack, he said.

Current intrusion-detection software helps an investigator find out if someone has broken into a system, identifies the intruder and prevents future attacks. However, the software first has to learn the computer system well enough to detect anything out of the ordinary, such as unexpected changes to files and suspicious programs. Detection also can require more steps, such as additional software, modification of current software or preparing a program ahead of time for monitoring.

Foster’s process-forensics method also includes an intrusion-detection system that improves on current software by streamlining detection and eliminating the training phase. “This is definitely an area that is up-and-coming in forensics,” said John Leeson, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Central Florida and an editor of the International Journal of Digital Evidence. “I like the fact that he’s taking a proactive approach – forensics for years has been a reactive field.

“The idea is that you kind of need to know when something is happening before you start collecting information, or it’ll be a lot of useless information,” Leeson said. “Mark’s proposing a tool that could be activated by an automatic intrusion-detection system. I think that’s going to definitely enhance the value of digital forensics, to be able to deal with incidents as they are occurring.”

Computer forensics is a broad field. “A lot of times it’s recovering deleted files or looking for hidden files,” Foster said. “You have a child stalker who’s on the Internet stalking children, and they track him down, they confiscate his computer, and they say to the forensic guy, ’What kind of evidence can you get from his computer?’”

Foster said his method targets a different kind of computer abuse – intruders who want to hijack a running program. ”This is definitely kind of a different angle than the traditional stuff,” he said.

| newswise
Further information:

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>