Friday, August 1, 2008

Book Review: Real Digital Forensics

In continuing my tradition of reviewing books that are 2 or 3 years old, I have recently finished reading Real Digital Forensics by Keith Jones, Richard Bejtlich, and Curtis Rose. Yeah, I hate paying full price for a new book, but mostly its because I buy so many books that by the time I get around to actually reading them, its been a few years Laughing. Now on to the review.

With this group of experienced authors, it hard to imagine the book not being a success. While not spectacular, this books is very solid and fairly easy to read. I would have to say for someone looking to attend the SANS hacking and forensic courses, this book could easily fill the gap and save you thousands of dollars. One thing I really liked was that they did not waste time on any fluff chapters about the history of whatever, they just jumped right into the material. They also made it a point to show the differences between incident response on *nix vs. windows. All the chapters that focused on analysis and response were dead on. They included great case data on the book DVD, which helps you work through the sample cases as well. That is a huge feature that needs to become standard in security books, where feasible. Probably the standout feature of the book for me though, was their chapters on analyzing unknown binaries. By following along step by step through the cases, its helps turn something that is considered more of an art, into a science. They also include good coverage of doing a forensic analysis of a palm device, and included the requisite chapters on email investigation, registry analysis, and browser forensics. One thing that I took note of during the book, was the chapter on building a response toolkit. They pointed out that you need to use filemon to ensure none of your trusted tools access the victims system for resources and instead are using libraries from your toolset. The authors also did a good job of showing both open source and commerical tools throughout the book.

Some of things I didn't enjoy about the book, was the coverage on duplication. But I guess you can't really do much with a topic that boring. Also, the chapter on domain onwership seemed more like a chapter on their DNS project, so it wasn't very useful. Other then that, I would have like to have seen some coverage on cell phone forensics, which is becoming more mainstream.

Overall though this was a great book that I would recommend to anyone in the security field and also system administrators. The authors knowledge of this subject is top notch and its good to be able glean information from them. Not to mention, you can gain a lot of practical experience by working through the example cases on the DVD. You can read my notes on the book here.

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