NETRESEC Network Security Blog - Tag : DFIR

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Carving Packets from Memory

The packets are in the router

Someone who says "We're gonna pull the packet captures out of the router" probably has no clue how to capture network traffic. In the Lindell case, statements like these were results of an elaborate hoax.

Nevertheless, such a statement doesn't have to be nonsense — if it comes from someone who knows how to dump the physical memory from the router. There are actually more packets available in the RAM of a router, or computer for that matter, than you might think.

The Forensic Challenge from DFRWS 2016 contains a memory dump from an SDN switch. If you drag-and-drop SDN.ram.raw from that challenge to CapLoader then you'll be asked if you wanna carve packets from the memory dump.

CapLoader error message - Invalid capture file

This packet carving feature is also available in the free trial version of CapLoader.

Clicking "Yes" in the dialogue brings up a configuration window. The default settings are okay in most cases.

CapLoader's Carve Packets Window

After pressing "Start" CapLoader will start identifying packets in the memory dump from the SDN switch. The packets will be saved to a Pcap-NG file located in the %TEMP% directory, unless you specified a different output location in the config window.

You can download a copy of the Pcap-NG file that I generated with CapLoader 1.9.2 here: (661 kB, 2959 packets)

Here's what it looks like when the carved packets have been loaded into NetworkMiner Professional.

NetworkMiner Professional with SDN.ram.raw.pcapng loaded

As you can see, a great deal of information can be extracted about the hosts on this network just by examining the dumped memory from the SDN switch.

What about Bulk Extractor?

Simson Garfinkel's bulk_extractor can also extract packets from memory dumps. It was actually a research paper by Simson that inspired me to implement a packet carver in the first place.

There are a few significant differences between bulk_extractor and CapLoader with regards to packet carving though. One difference is that bulk_extractor identifies network packets by looking for Ethernet frames containing IPv4 packets, while CapLoader looks for IPv4 or IPv6 packets containing TCP or UDP packets. The output from bulk_extractor is usually quite similar to that of CapLoader, and so is the parsing speed. CapLoader was just slightly faster in our tests and carved about 3% more packets compared to bulk_extractor, these additional packets were primarily IPv6 packets and packets that weren't encapsulated by an Ethernet frame.

Where can I download memory dumps?

I posted a question on Twitter, asking the #DFIR community for their favorite publicly available memory dumps prior to writing this blog post, and I received lots of great answers. Thank you all for contributing! I have now compiled the following list of places from where you can download memory dumps:

For a more detailed blog post on CapLoader's packet carving functionality, please see our Carving Network Packets from Memory Dump Files blog post from 2014.

Posted by Erik Hjelmvik on Tuesday, 31 August 2021 15:10:00 (UTC/GMT)

Tags: #Forensics#RAM#PCAP#Pcap-NG#PcapNG#DFIR#carve#carver#packets#dump#CapLoader#memory forensics#DFRWS

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PacketCache lets you Go Back in Time

PacketCache logo

Have you ever wanted to go back in time to get a PCAP of something strange that just happened on a PC?
I sure have, many times, which is why we are now releasing a new tool called PacketCache. PacketCache maintains a hive of the most important and recent packets, so that they can be retrieved later on, if there is a need.

Network forensics and incident response is performed post-event, but requires that packet have already been captured during the event to be analyzed. Starting a network sniffer after a suspected intrusion might provide useful insight on what the intruders are up to, but it is much better to be able to go back in time to observe how they gained access to the network and what they did prior to being detected. Many companies and organizations combat this problem by setting up one or several solutions for centralized network packet capturing. These sniffers are typically installed at choke-points on the network, such as in-line with a firewall. However, this prevents the sniffers from capturing network traffic going between hosts on the same local network. Intruders can therefore often perform lateral movement on a compromised network without risk getting their steps captured by a packet sniffer.

Logo for Back to the Future series logo - public domain

USB broadband modem, credit: Game Gavel (cc-by-sa-3.0)
Image by Game Gavel
We're now trying to improve the situation for the defenders by releasing PacketCache, which is a free (Creative Commons licensed) Windows service that is designed to continuously monitor the network interfaces of a computer and store the captured packets in memory (RAM). PacketCache monitors all IPv4 interfaces, not just the one connected to the corporate network. This way traffic will be captured even on public WiFi networks and Internet connections provided through USB broadband modems (3G/4G).

By default PacketCache reserves 1% of a computer's total physical memory for storing packets. A computer with 4 GB of RAM will thereby allow up to 40 MB of packets to be kept in memory. This might not seem like much, but PacketCache relies on a clever technique that allows it to store only the most important packets. With this technique just 40 MB of storage can be enough to store several days worth of “important” packets.

The “clever technique” we refer to is actually a simple way of removing packets from TCP and UDP sessions as they get older. This way recent communication can be retained in full, while older data us truncated at the end (i.e. only the last packets are removed from a session).

PacketCache services in services.msc

To download PacketCache or learn more about this new tool, please visit the official PacketCache page:

PCAP or it didn't happen!

Posted by Erik Hjelmvik on Wednesday, 28 September 2016 11:45:00 (UTC/GMT)

Tags: #PacketCache#PCAP#NSM#forensics#Windows#sniffer#memory#DFIR

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