Technology | 6 Minutes Reading
Hard Disk Imaging or Cloning – A Complete Guide
The computer forensics and e-Discovery plays a key role in examining the digital evidences to support the litigation. The most decisive step in this digital investigation is to do a secure assortment of computer evidences. The process of collection of digital evidences must in no way compromise the evidential veracity and security. The most excellent approach in this process is to use Disk Imaging Softwares.
What is Hard Disk Imaging?
The term Disk Cloning or Imaging is a very common terminology among the forensic experts. But to construe this term in such a way that both the technocrats and home users may easily get its concept, it can be defined as “Developing sector-by-sector copy of a disk followed by the compression of these images in the form of a file. The captured image can be stored on any other divergent media or device and can be restored later as per need at any point of investigation.” The modus operandi and approach of the working on this technology involves four key steps that include proper identification, preservation, in-depth analysis and presentation of the digital evidences.
In addition to forensic investigations, one other reason for creating the images of data on hard disks can be generation of backup of the original stored data. But the core purpose of it is digital investigation and analysis in the course of frauds, forgeries, scams, etc. A good quality disk imaging backup tool by no means alters the original and true evidence. Instead, it creates a replica of all the data on other media and makes them available for detailed investigation.
Hard Drive Cloning Hardware Solutions
A number of hardware tools are available in the IT forensics markets that are capable of performing the job of hard disk imaging. Some of such renowned tools include Tableau TD3 Touch Screen Forensic Imager, Cellebrite UFED Touch, DeepSpar Disk Imager, etc. The most preferred task of such hardware is to create a copy of the data available on the hard disks without tampering or manipulating it. The Drive Imaging Softwares sector-by-sector creates images of the data that is present on the hard disk and ensures the integrity of the data.
Some Famous Hard Disk Imaging Hardware Solution
- TD3 Touch Screen Forensic hardware solution is the most renowned and best available solution for hard disk cloning. TD3 has the caliber to collect data from SATA, IDE, USB 3.0/2.0/1.1, SAS and FireWire (1394A/B) drives. TD3 is a completely forensics dedicated drive imaging softwares. Along with hard drives or flash drives, iSCSI network shares can also be imaged. All user need to do is to connect the write blocked device and proper power connection before imaging. The below image explains the proper mechanism.
Cellebrite UFED Touch
- Cellebrite UFED Touch excels in extraction, decoding, analysis and reporting of data. This hardware is mainly skilled in creating images of the data stored in mobile devices such as Smartphone and portable GPS devices. Some of its best features include easy extraction of data from BlackBerry devices that are based on OS 4-7, bypassing pattern locks, PINs and passwords, etc.
DeepSpar Disk Imager
DeepSpar Disk Imager 4 is a highly specialized forensics disk cloning tool. It has the caliber to create disk copy of two hard drives simultaneously. DeepSpar Disk Imager can be easily controlled via mouse, keyboard or even via Internet.
Some Famous Hard Disk Imaging Software
Acronis True Image Application
With complete image backup, Acronis True Image Application acquires and restores the exact configuration of the PC/Laptops. This forensics disk cloning software application is equipped with features like Time Explorer that enable you to recover all the relevant data without any hassle.
Paragon Hard Disk Imager
Cellebrite UFED Touch excels in extraction, decoding, analysis and reporting of data. This hardware is mainly skilled in creating images of the data stored in mobile devices such as Smartphone and portable GPS devices. Some of its best features include easy extraction of data from BlackBerry devices that are based on OS 4-7, bypassing pattern locks, PINs and passwords, etc.
Key Factors to be Focused while Choosing the Drive Imaging Softwares
After properly being analyzed by the team of experts, it has been concluded that the tools performing the task of Hard Disk Imaging must focus on the following mentioned points:
The Original Evidences must be Kept Safe & Secure:
After acquiring the custody of the evidences that may include any type of digital devices, the most important pitch that needs to be focused is the risk of contamination of the evidence. If due to improper handling or any other such reason, the original evidence is lost or altered, then it may prove to be a Holy Grail for the forensic experts. Thus, the best practice while making use of any disk imaging backup tool is to get sector-by-sector copy of all original data and then work on this developed backup for refining and obtaining any sort of available evidence.
Integrity of Evidence
The Hard Drive Imaging Softwares must ensure that no changes are being made in the original evidence during the imaging process. For this very reason, the tools must generate log files to keep a record of each and every tread.
Preservation of Evidence
The advancement of technology has made it very easy for the criminals to tamper and alter the digital evidences, that too, without any traces. As solving forensics cases may take time, the images created using the hard disk imaging software. As solving forensics cases may take time, the images created using the Disk Cloning Tool must be properly preserved. It must also be ensured that the media in which the data is stored must not get decayed with time.
Presentation of Evidence:
When the digital evidences are presented in court during the course of judicial proceedings, the most common and frequent challenge that comes up is to present the technical evidences in such a way that it becomes understandable to the non – technical personals too. The reports produced by the Disk Imaging Tools must be easily understandable non computer literate background people such as lawyers and other judicial persons, etc.
The increasing numbers of scams, forgeries, etc. have increased the need of computer forensics at an alarming rate. The Disk Imaging Backup or any other such tool must be 200% efficient in creating proper backup of the evidences so that a proper analysis can be done and then the resulting evidences can be used in litigation to prove guilt (or innocence).