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Virtual Machine Forensics – Explained with Help of Virtual Machine Email Recovery

Carl Wilson | November 3rd, 2017 | Forensics

Virtualization is a wide domain which makes use of the logical environment in order to triumph over physical limitations associated with hardware. Virtual machine environment is widely used by the organization in order to minimize the cost of hardware and software. However, with the growing use of virtual machine, there can be various scenarios that demand virtual machine forensics.

Understanding The Needs To Carry Out Virtual Machine Forensics

The functioning of both virtual machine as well as the original system is exactly same. Hence, in case of any misconduct with the local machine having a virtual environment, it becomes equally important to investigate user’s activity recorded on the virtual machine to reach the root cause of an issue. However, virtual machine digital forensics is not an easy task as it requires a sound technical knowledge. Moreover, the investigation process becomes more complicated if there are some damaged or broken virtual machine image makes the process more complicated.

Behind The Scenes

By creating a virtual machine, a set of the file is created by the workstation for the particular virtual machine. These files are either stored in the virtual machine directory or in the working directory. It must be noted that both these directories reside on the host system.

Glimpse Of Virtual Machine Files

The two important file formats of virtual machine which are important for experts to extract information related to virtual machine are VMDK and VHD files. These files are created by Hyper V and VM Ware applications. During Virtual Machine forensics, the prime and most challenging task of investigators is to carve evidence from these crucial file formats. A brief description of both the files is provided below:

VHD Files: These files permit the installation of multiple Operating Systems on a single host machine. It contains a disk partition and a file system that is found on the hard drive.

VMDK Files: It is a disk image file that stands for Virtual Machine Disk. It is an open format file and is considered as containers for a hard disk drive which is used in virtual machine.

Importance Of VHD And VMDK Files In Digital Forensics

VMDK and VDK files are considered as key elements for examining virtual machine. Experts can extract necessary information from these files to resolve an issue. ‘Emails’ stored in these files (both sent and received) pave the path for the examiners to reach the offenders.

Whenever a user initiates to compose an email, the Operating System grabs the data and stores it to the hard drive. In case of the Virtual machine, all necessary information gets stored in VMDK or VHD files. The VMDK and VHD files further contain files and folders, and the data is stored accordingly. For example, if Outlook is used in a standalone environment in the Virtual machine, PST files are created within the virtual machine files to store database. However, if Outlook is configured with Exchange Server, EDB files are created within these files.

The scenario may arise where alteration is done to Exchange EDB emails created by virtual machine. In such case, the experts need to analyze EDB emails from VHD and VMDK files. However, direct extraction of information from these files requires huge time; hence, the experts prefer to use a basic utility ‘virtual machine email recovery’ tool. The next thing that strikes in the mind is why the forensics experts will invest in this tool?

Why Virtual Machine Email Recovery Tool

The virtual machine email recovery tool is an expert utility that is designed keeping in mind the challenges faced by the experts while implementing virtual machine forensics. Some of the challenges from which the tool protects the experts are:

  • Challenges can be faced in dealing with Exchange Server
  • The EDB files are prone to corruption and can become inaccessible
  • There can be chances of data loss from Exchange Server or from VMDK/VHD files

Benefits Provided By Virtual Machine Email Recovery Tool To Computer Forensics Experts

Forensics investigators proceed with their own tips and tricks to reach the offenders. If the information is to be extracted from virtual machine, the experts target VHD/VMDK files. The virtual machine email recovery tool is widely used by investigators to exercise control over Exchange Server emails. The tool is professionally created and some of its features are listed below:

  • Recovers email files of any size
  • Recover corrupt/deleted emails

Virtual Machine Computer Forensics

Recovers Email Files Of Any Size

There can be chances that the email files can be lengthy hence, it becomes difficult to handle them. However, using the virtual machine email recovery tool, the forensics experts can easily process email files of any size.  The software does not apply any restrictions on the size of the email files, thus, it becomes easier to recover EDB files from the virtual hard drive. The resultant emails can be stored in PST, EML, MSG and live exchange for the convenience of the examiners. Moreover, the software has potential to process multiple emails at a time.

Recovers Corrupt/Deleted Emails

In order to alter Exchange EDB emails, the offenders either corrupt or delete them. In both the scenarios, the EDB files become inaccessible and the experts cannot extract information from them. Using a virtual machine email recovery tool, the experts can conveniently scan VHD and VMDK files and recover both corrupt as well as deleted emails. The tool allows experts to preview emails on its panel after recovery. The tool recovers emails keeping the message contents and Metadata intact.

A Glance Of Recovered Email

Virtual machine email recovery tool plays a crucial role in the investigation process. The figure below shows the software panel where the experts can preview Exchange EDB emails.

virtual machine forensics

 

Some advanced features of the Virtual Machine Computer tool are discussed below:

  • Experts can analyze emails along with the attachments
  • Provides essential details of the mails like to, from, Cc, date, time etc
  • Provides option to manage resultant PST files by dividing it into smaller parts and EML and MSG files by providing desired naming convention

To End With

The content provides necessary information about the implementation of Virtual Machine forensics using the virtual machine email recovery tool. The tool is the prime choice of the experts and they utilize it for the investigation. Further PST forensics application can be used to examine the resultant PST files created by the tool.