Case Management


Autopsy organizes images based on the case and host that they came from. A case contains one or more hosts (a new case should be created for each investigation). Each host can contain one or more images, which correspond to disks or partitions on the host.

Creating a New Case

From the Main Menu (at startup) select New Case. You will have to enter the case name and an optional short description. The case name must be a valid directory name (no spaces - no symbols). A list of investigators will also be requested. These will be used for the audit logs, not for authentication. A directory with the same name as the case will be created in the Evidence Locker. To later rename the case, simply rename the directory.

For example:
Case Name:bankofmars
Case Description:Theft of $1,000,000,000.01 from The Bank of Mars

Adding a New Host

A Host must then be created in the Case. Select the Case that was just created from the Case Gallery and enter the Host Gallery. Select Add Host and enter the host name, a short description, and time information such as time zone and clock skew. The clock skew is how many seconds the system was off from a synchronized clock. Adding a host will create a directory in the case directory and subdirectories in the host for the images, output data, logs, and reports. If you do not add a time zone, then it will default to the time zone of your analysis system. A list of time zones can be found here.

You can optionally add the path to hash databases.

For example, the 'Bank of Mars' incident could have two hosts involved:
Host Name:db_server
Host Description:Main Database Server - Solaris
Known Good Database:none
Known Bad Database:none

Host Name:file_server
Host Description:Windows File Server - Win 2k
Known Good Database:/usr/local/forensics/hash/win2k.txt
Known Bad Database:/usr/local/forensics/hash/win_hack.txt

Adding a New Image

Next, images must be added to the host. Select the host that was just added from the Host Gallery and enter the Host Manager. Select Add Image File and a new form is shown. The first text box in the form is for the path of the image file. If you are importing a split image, then the extension must be ordered based on the file order. Supply a '*' in the file name extension where the numbers or letters are. (i.e. .../image.*). The image file can be of a full disk or of an individual partition. You must select which it is though. Before they can analyzed, the images will have to be located in the evidence locker. You are given a choice to either create a symbolic link from the current location, to copy the file, or to move the file from its current location to the host directory. Select the desired import method. For example:
Image Path:/mnt/sys1/disk2.*
Import Action:symlink

If you are importing a split image, then the next window will confirm the order of the images. After that, the next window will allow you to specify or calculate the MD5 for the file. This should be of the full file and if you are importing a split image then it should be for all files combined. If you are importing a volume image, then Autopsy will try to determine the file system type. You will also need to specify the mounting point. This is used for cosmetic purposes only when printing the full path of files.

If the image file is a disk image then Autopsy will list all of the partitions and try to determine the file system in each one. You have the option to not import a partition and to change the file system type.

MD5 Values

Each host has an md5.txt file that contains the MD5 value for files in that directory. Autopsy uses that file to validate the integrity of files. By default, when a file is imported into Autopsy, its MD5 will be calculated. If it is already known, then it can be entered in the 'Add Images' window.

Host Subdirectories

Each host has an images directory and an output directory. All data generated by Autopsy is saved to the output directory. The theory behind this design, was to allow the images directory to have strict permissions to prevent accidently modifying the images. Therefore, the images directory can have its write bits removed to prevent modifications.


Issue 2 of The Sleuth Kit Informer discusses case management and how to break a disk image into file system images.

Brian Carrier