Master Windows Forensics - "You Can't Protect the Unknown."
All organizations must prepare for cybercrime occurring on computer systems and within corporate networks. Demand has never been greater for analysts who can investigate crimes such as fraud, insider threats, industrial espionage, employee misuse, and computer intrusions. Corporations, governments, and law enforcement agencies increasingly require trained forensics specialists to perform investigations, recover vital intelligence from Windows systems, and ultimiately get to the root cause of the crime. To help solve these cases, SANS is training a new cadre of the world's best digital forensic professionals, incident responders, and media exploitation experts capable of piecing together what happened on computer systems second by second.
FOR500: Windows Forensic Analysis focuses on building in-depth digital forensics knowledge of Microsoft Windows operating systems. You can't protect what you don't know about, and understanding forensic capabilities and available artifacts is a core component of information security. You will learn how to recover, analyze, and authenticate forensic data on Windows systems, track individual user activity on your network, and organize findings for use in incident response, internal investigations, intellectual property theft inquiries, and civil or criminal litigation. You'll be able to validate security tools, enhance vulnerability assessments, identify insider threats, track hackers, and improve security policies. Whether you know it or not, Windows is silently recording an unbelievable amount of data about you and your users. FOR500 teaches you how to mine this mountain of data and use it to your advantage.
Proper analysis requires real data for students to examine. This continually updated course trains digital forensic analysts through a series of new hands-on laboratory exercises that incorporate evidence found on the latest technologies, including Microsoft Windows versions 10 and 11, Office and Microsoft 365, Google Workspace (G Suite), cloud storage providers, SharePoint, Exchange, and Outlook. Students will leave the course armed with the latest tools and techniques and prepared to investigate even the most complicated systems they might encounter. Nothing is left out - attendees learn to analyze everything from legacy Windows 7 systems to just-discovered Windows 11 artifacts.
FOR500: Windows Forensic Analysis will teach you to:
- Conduct in-depth forensic analysis of Windows operating systems and media exploitation on Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1, Windows 10, Windows 11 and Windows Server products.
- Identify artifact and evidence locations to answer crucial questions, including application execution, file access, data theft, external device usage, cloud services, device geolocation, file download, anti-forensics, and detailed system and user activity.
- Become tool-agnostic by focusing your capabilities on analysis instead of how to use a particular tool.
- Extract critical findigs and build an in-house forensic capability via a variety of free, open-source, and commercial tools provided within the SANS Windows SIFT Workstation.
FOR500 starts with an intellectual property theft and corporate espionage case that took over six months to create. You work in the real world, so your training should include real-world practice data. Our instructor course development team used incidents from their own investigations and experiences to create an incredibly rich and detailed scenario designed to immerse students in an actual investigation. The case demonstrates the latest artifacts and technologies an investigator might encounter while analyzing Windows systems. The detailed workbook teaches the tools and techniques that every investigator should employ step by step to solve a forensic case. The tools provided can be used long after the end of class.
Please note that this is an analysis-focused course; FOR500 does not cover the basics of evidentiary handling, the "chain of custody," or introductory drive acquisition. The course authors update FOR500 aggressively to stay current with the latest artifacts and techniques discovered. This course is perfect for you if you are interested in in-depth and current Microsoft Windows Operating System forensics and analysis for any incident that occurs. If you have not updated your Windows forensic analysis skills in the past three years or more, this course is essential.
You Will Be Able To
- Perform proper Windows forensic analysis by applying peer-reviewed techniques focusing on Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1, Windows 10, Windows 11, and Windows Server products
- Use state-of-the-art forensic tools and analysis methods to detail nearly every action a suspect accomplished on a Windows system, including who placed an artifact on the system and how, program execution, file/folder opening, geolocation, browser history, profile USB device usage, cloud storage usage, and more
- Uncover the exact time that a specific user last executed a program through Registry and Windows artifact analysis, and understand how this information can be used to prove intent in cases such as intellectual property theft, hacker-breached systems, and traditional crimes
- Determine the number of times files have been opened by a suspect through browser forensics, shortcut file analysis (LNK), email analysis, and Windows Registry parsing
- Audit cloud storage usage, including detailed user activity, identifying deleted files, signs of data exfiltration, and even documenting files available only in the cloud
- Identify items searched by a specific user on a Windows system to pinpoint the data and information that the suspect was interested in finding, and accomplish detailed damage assessments
- Use Windows Shell Bag analysis tools to articulate every folder and directory a user or attacker interacted with while accessing local, removable, and network drives
- Determine each time a unique and specific USB device was attached to the Windows system, the files and folders accessed on it, and what user plugged it in by parsing Windows artifacts such as Registry hives and Event Log files
- Learn Event Log analysis techniques and use them to determine when and how users logged into a Windows system, whether via a remote session, at the keyboard, or simply by unlocking a screensaver
- Determine where a crime was committed using Registry data and pinpoint the geolocation of a system by examining connected networks and wireless access points
- Use browser forensic tools to perform detailed web browser analysis, parse raw SQLite and ESE databases, and leverage session recovery artifacts to identify web activity, even if privacy cleaners and in-private browsing software are used
- Specifically determine how individuals used a system, who they communicated with, and files that were downloaded, modified, and deleted
Windows Forensics Course Topics:
SANS labs provide hands-on experience that reinforces course concepts and learning objectives. This course includes lab instructions with a step-by-step electronic workbook that's directly tied to the material to develop skills in an hands-on environment.
- lab 1.1 - Mounting Disk Images
- lab 1.2 - Triage Imaging with KAPE
- lab 1.3 - Mounting Triage VHDX Evidence
- lab 1.4 - Memory Carving with AXIOM
- lab 2.1 - User Account Profiling
- lab 2.2 - System Profiling
- lab 2.3 - NTUSER.DAT Analysis
- lab 2.4 - Application Execution Analysis
- lab 2.5 - Cloud Storage Forensics - Onedrive
- lab 2.6 - Cloud Storage Forensics - Google
- lab 3.2 - LNK Shell Item Analysis
- lab 3.3 - Jumplist and Shellbags Shell Item Analysis
- lab 3.4 - USB Analysis
- lab 4.1 - Email Forensics
- lab 4.2 - Windows Timeline and Recycle Bin Analysis
- lab 4.3 - SRUM Analysis
- lab 4.4 - Event Log Analysis
- lab 5.1 - Automating Artifact Processing with KAPE
- lab 5.2 - Chrome Browser Forensics
- lab 5.3 - Edge and Internet Explorer Analysis
- lab 5.4 - Firefox Forensics
- lab 6.1 - FOR500 Forensic Challenge
FOR500 maps to these NICE Roles
- IN-FOR-001: Law Enforcement /Counter Intelligence Forensics Analyst
- IN-FOR0002: Cyber Defense Forensics Analyst
- IN-INV-001: Cyber Crime Investigator
What You Will Receive
- Windows 10 Enterprise version of the SIFT Workstation Virtual Machine with over 200 commercial, open-source, and freeware Digital Forensics and Incident Response (DFIR) tools prebuilt into the environment
- Trial licenses for the following commercial tool suites:
- ISO images filled with real-world cases and artifacts to examine during and after class
- FOR500 exercise workbook with 550 pages of detailed step-by-step instructions
- MP3 audio files of the complete course lecture
!!IMPORTANT - BRING YOUR OWN SYSTEM CONFIGURED USING THESE DIRECTIONS!!
A properly configured system is required for each student participating in this course. Before coming to class, carefully read and follow these instructions exactly.
You can use any 64-bit version of Windows, Mac OSX, or Linux as your core operating system provided you can install and run VMware virtualization products. Students are provided with a digital forensic lab built into a VMware Virtual Machine. You must have a minimum of 8 gigabytes (GB) of RAM or higher for the class virtual machine to function, but 16 GB of RAM is highly recommended for the best experience.
It is critical that your CPU and operating system support 64-bit applications so that our 64-bit guest virtual machine can run on your laptop. VMware provides a free tool for Windows and Linux that will detect whether your host supports 64-bit guest virtual machines. For further troubleshooting, this article also provides good instructions for Windows users to determine more about CPU and OS capabilities. For Macs, please use this support page from Apple to determine 64-bit capability.
Please download and install VMware Workstation, VMware Fusion, or VMware Player on your system prior to the start of the class. Your version of VMware cannot be more than one version behind the latest available version of the software. If you do not own a licensed copy of VMware Workstation or Fusion, you can download a free 30-day trial copy from VMware.
MANDATORY FOR500 SYSTEM HARDWARE REQUIREMENTS:
- CPU: 64-bit Intel i5/i7 (4th generation+) x64 bit 2.0+ GHz processor or more recent processor is mandatory for this class (Important a 64-bit system processor is MANDATORY.)
- 8 GB of RAM or higher is mandatory for this class (Important - 8 GB of RAM or higher of RAM is mandatory and minimum. For the best experience, 16GB of RAM is recommended.)
- USB 3.0
- 300+ GB host system hard drive minimum
- 200 GB minimum of free space on your host hard drive: Free space is absolutely critical to host the virtual machines and evidence files provided with the class
- Students must have Local Administrator access within their host operating system and access to the BIOS settings
OPTIONAL FOR500 SYSTEM HARDWARE REQUIREMENTS:
A USB removable storage device is necessary to complete one optional exercise in the course. The storage size of the USB media should be larger than the RAM size of the student laptop.
MANDATORY FOR500 SYSTEM SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS:
Host Operating System: Fully patched and updated Windows, Mac OSX (10.10+), or a recent version of the Linux operating system (released 2016 or later) that also can install and run VMware virtualization products (VMware Workstation, VMware Fusion, or VMware Player). Please note: It is necessary to fully update your host operating system prior to the class to ensure that you have the right drivers and patches installed to utilize the latest USB 3.0 devices. Those who use a Linux host must also be able to access ExFAT partitions using the appropriate kernel or FUSE module
CRITICAL NOTE: Apple systems using the M1 processor line cannot perform the necessary virtualization functionality and therefore cannot in any way be used for this course.
PLEASE INSTALL THE FOLLOWING SOFTWARE PRIOR TO CLASS:
- Microsoft Office (any version) with Excel or LiberOffice with Calc installed on your host. You can download Office Trial Software online (free for 30 days)
- Install VMware Workstation, VMware Fusion, or VMware Player (your version should be no more than one version behind the latest available from VMware)
- Download and install 7Zip on your host (Mac users should ensure they have a capable unarchiving tool such as Keka)
IN SUMMARY, BEFORE YOU BEGIN THE COURSE YOU SHOULD:
- Bring the proper system hardware (64bit/8+GB Ram) and operating system configuration
- Install VMware (Workstation, Player, or Fusion), MS Office, and 7zip and make sure everything works before class.
If you have additional questions about the laptop specifications, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
"After 30 years in law enforcement, three capabilities immediately rise to the top of my list when I think of what makes a great digital forensic analyst: superior technical skill, sound investigative methodology, and the ability to overcome obstacles. This course was designed to impart these critical skills to students. Unlike many other training courses that focus on teaching a single tool, FOR500 provides training on many tools. While there are some exceptional tools available, forensic analysts need a variety of tools in their arsenal to be able to pick and choose the best one for each task. However, forensic analysts are not great because of the tools they use, but because they artfully apply the right investigative methodology to each analysis. A carpenter can be a master with all his tools and still not know how to build a house. FOR500 teaches analysts to apply digital forensic methodologies to a variety of case types and situations, enabling them to apply the right methodology to achieve the best outcome in the real world. Finally, the course presents the problem-solving skills necessary to be a truly successful forensic analyst. Almost immediately after starting your forensic career, you will learn that each forensic analysis presents its own unique challenges. A technique that worked flawlessly for previous examinations may not work for the next one. A good forensic analyst must be able to overcome obstacles through advanced troubleshooting and problem-solving. FOR500 gives students the foundation to solve future problems, overcome obstacles, and become great forensic analysts. No matter if you are new to the forensic community or have been doing forensics for years, FOR500 is a must-have course." - Ovie Carroll
"Former students have contacted me regularly about how they were able to use their digital forensic skills in very real situations that were part of the nightly news cycle. The skills you learn in this class are used directly to stop evil. Graduates of FOR500 are the front-line troops deployed when you need accurate digital forensic, incident response, and media exploitation analysis. From analyzing terrorist laptops and data breaches to investigating insider intellectual property theft and fraud, SANS digital forensic graduates are battling and winning the war on crime and terror. Graduates have directly contributed to solving some of the toughest cases out there because they have learned how to properly conduct analyses and run investigations. It brings me great comfort knowing that this course places the correct methodology and knowledge in the hands of responders who thwart the plans of criminals or foreign attacks. Graduates are doing just that on a daily basis. I am proud that FOR500 helped prepare them to solve cases and fight crime." - Rob Lee
"Digital forensics has never been more in demand than it is today. Zettabytes of data are created yearly, and forensic examiners will increasingly be called in to separate the wheat from the chaff. For better or worse, digital artifacts are recorded for almost every action, and the bar has been raised for investigators working to repel computer intrusions, stop intellectual property theft, and put bad actors in jail. We wrote this course as the forensics training we wish would have been available early in our careers. Keeping up with the cutting edge of forensics is daunting, but with frequent updates I am confident this course provides the most up-to-date training available, whether you are just starting out or are looking to add new skills to your forensic arsenal." - Chad Tilbury
"Ovie has been great as an instructor for this course. His knowledge and passion to share his insight with us has excited me in learning and reviewing the case materials again even after lessons. I stayed back to spend extra time to read and learn so that I could prepare in anticipation of what he is offering us the next morning. He conducts start-of-the-day recaps and end-of-the-day pop quizzes to tie in knowledge that would have otherwise been just 'another artifact' that was taught. He showed us how to think critically, to tell the story, and to always ask questions." - Yao Guang Tan