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Data Hiding in Slack Space

Written by Rick Leinecker

Data Hiding in Slack Space

One of the most important topics in Digital Forensics is data hiding. The black hats continually look for methods with which to plant data in ways that you, the investigator,

cannot find. It is almost like a perpetual catand-mouse game. Just when you think you know how to find their secrets, they find new ways to hide them. The data might be a list of passwords, credit cards numbers, or maybe the secret plans for a bomb. In this article we examine a technique for hiding data in file slack. First, you will learn the theoretical underpinnings of the technique. Then, you will understand an open-source program that was specially written for this article.

To get the discussion started, we need to talk about the topology of data on storage devices. The smallest and most granular unit is a bit. In RAM, single transistors represent bits. On magnetic storage devices, discreet units of magnetic matter represent bits. Eight bits are organized into a byte, which relates to data types such as ASCII characters. The text “Hello” can be represented by a series of five bytes with numeric values 71, 101, 108, 108, and 111.

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Coming up in the Next issue of Digital Forensics Magazine

Coming up in Issue 39 on sale from February 2019:


Making Sense of Digital Forensic International Standards

To many the complexity of Standards, their numbering and obscure contents fail to make practical sense and confuse the entry points for effective use. A roadmap is provided in this paper for Standard information access and optimal use. Read More »

Evidentiary Challenges: Social media, the Dark Web, and Admissibility

This article takes a look at two categories of remote evidence: social media, and the dark web. We will also examine two interesting cases: The Target store credit card breach; and the civil case of Fero v Excellus Health Plan, Inc. Read More »

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Vehicle Data Forensics on Unsupported Systems

The article will help readers understand how to approach a vehicle from a digital forensics’ perspective, it will cover a range of infotainment units from popular manufacturers, data extraction methods and examples of data types found which may be considered intelligence and or used as digital evidence. Read More »

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