Impact Financial Services Australia (IFSA) is a specialist provider of high quality, consumer finance services to a global network of customers. It has been operating since 1990 and employs more than 1500 employees worldwide. IFSA serves more than 5 million customers globally. The company’s main office is situated in Melbourne with other branch offices located in all major cities in Australia.
IFSA has invested heavily in information technology for supporting its global business operations and achieving competitive advantages over its competitors. Major investments were made by the company in 2001 but management has lost focus in updating the networks and application infrastructure that supports the business operation in recent years. The network environment between all of IFSA offices is flat and relatively unrestricted. Users from one office can access systems and servers from another office. Workstations and servers are typically UNIX/LINUX-based. Firewalls and network segmentation are implemented poorly throughout the environment. Intrusion detection and logging exist on systems but they are not effectively used.
Last week, one of the employees Richard at the Sydney office went in to work early and when he got connected to his computer, he found that someone was already connected to his computer with several windows opened. As he stared at it, his computer system got disconnected. He then tried to get connected again, but he was logged out. He called the IT manager, who followed a plan for such incidents. This includes disabling Richard’s account and examining the server security logs. The IT manager found that the IP address of the computer that was connected to John’s computer belongs to a computer used to run a data projector at the Melbourne office. He quickly rang the Melbourne office to check who has used the computer and requested the logs of people who have swiped into the building. He found out that even that machine was compromised. An urgent meeting with the management concluded that security breach has occurred and Forensic team will be set up to investigate this matter and stop reoccurrence of such issues. As an information security officer, you are asked by the management to investigate to find out the extent of this security breach and Richard’s activities, if others are involved, who is affected and whether criminal charges need to be laid.
Your task is to prepare digital forensics investigative plan to enable a systematic collection of evidence and subsequent forensic analysis of the electronic and digital data. Assuming all systems are UNIX/LINUX based, this plan should detail following:
justify why use of the digital forensic methodology and approach is warranted including appropriate procedures for corporate investigations such as this.
describe the resources required to conduct a digital forensic investigation, including skill sets and required tools of the team members.
outline an approach for data/evidence identification and acquisition that would occur in order to prepare the auditors for review of the digital evidence.
outline an approach and steps to be taken during the analysis phase making the assumption the computer system is a UNIX/LINUX-based computer.
make a recommendation on the action that the company needs to take against the offender.
Tips for preparing your digital forensics investigative plan
In writing the digital forensics investigative plan, students need to address following points. Do note that points listed below are not exhaustive and need to be considered as helpful tips.
Justify a need for digital forensics methodology and consider scope of the case including nature of alleged misconduct leading to consideration of how electronic and digital evidence may support the investigation. The plan should consider how digital forensics differs from other techniques (such as network forensics, data recovery) and detail the overall steps for the systematic digital forensics approach.
Consider the required resources and include details regarding preparation plan for evidence gathering (such as evidence forms, types, storage media and containers), forensics workstation and peripherals needed, software/tools for analysis depending on the type of evidence to be gathered including rationale for selected tools, and consideration of team member skills in digital analysis (such as OS knowledge, skills for interviewing, consultation, working as per the needs of the auditing team and understanding of law and corporate policies).
Detail the approach for data acquisition including the different types of evidence that can be gathered and their source depending upon the nature of the case and scope of investigation, develop a plan for data acquisition including rationale for selected plan and contingency planning, detail type of data acquisition tools needed including rationale and an outline for the data validation & verification procedures.
Provide an outline of the forensic analysis procedures/steps depending upon the nature of evidence to be collected, and detail the validation approach. This can include techniques to counter data hiding, recovering deleted files, procedures for network and e-mail analysis.
Prepare a recommendation on the action that the company needs to take against the offender.
Table of contents for the investigative plan should consider what to include in report, structure of report, focus or scope of the report including supporting material to be provided and references. This table of contents should include headings and sub-headings pertaining to the aspects addressed in the above dot points.
Prepare a professional report with an Executive Summary, a Word generated table of contents, an Introduction, a body of report with proper headings and sub-headings, and a Conclusion.
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