More About Computer Forensics
OK, my Computer Forensics class is officially over. I did the final exam yesterday and I feel pretty good about it. Now I only have two more classes to take and I’m finished with my degree. This area of study has really whet my appetite. I have those same Geek feelings and urges that I had when I first got into computers.
THE POWER! BWAHAHAHAHAHA! THE POWER! What a Dork I am. But, it really is powerful stuff. It’s like being able to read someone’s mind because people are so careless about what they have on their computers and really feel a false sense of privacy and security just because it’s in their home or physically in their possession.
Take into consideration all the personal stuff one has on their computer. Then add to that by the number of computers you actually have in the house. Then add the other computers you might use for your job, then add the computers you might come in contact with for brief periods such as a friends computer you checked email on or a computer at the library. Now we add the Blackberries and iPhones, email accounts and also the Social Networking sites you frequent…We leave our digital DNA all over the place and it’s impossible to keep track of everything we post and everyone we contact!
Or is it?
That’s what forensics is all about, following the breadcrumb trail everyone, and I mean EVERYONE leaves. These are the easy people to brain peel. The really interesting ones are those that are intentionally doing no good with computers. The fraudsters, the pedophiles, the stalkers, the harassers, the terrorists, the hackers, these are the challenges!
One example is the area of forensics dealing with Steganography. Steganography is the science of “covered writing”. In a nutshell it’s the art of hiding a message within a message. A website might be posting seemingly innocent photos of travel or children, but secretly attached to these graphics are other files of child porn, or text files of terrorist plans or industrial sabotage info. When you download the graphic you download the attached files too. You run them through special software and peel off the attachments.
In 2002 U.S. authorities broke up the Shadowz Brotherhood, a child porno ring that operated like a terrorist cell using encryption and steganography to hide their activities. The members used a code amongst themselves to know when and where to go to download the “spiked” graphics. This is just one example.
On March of this year it was estimated that the World Wide Web contained at least 25.21 billion pages. As of May of this year, it is estimated there are over 109.5 million websites. So lets just say that 1% of those sites might contain questionable material (I don’t think that’s an outrageous percentage considering everything that’s going on in the world). That is 1.1 million websites, and it’s growing exponentially.