Collect NTFS forensic information with osquery

We’re releasing an extension for osquery that will let you dig deeper into the NTFS filesystem. It’s one more tool for incident response and data collection. But it’s also an opportunity to dispense with forensics toolkits and commercial services that offer similar capabilities.

Until now, osquery has been inadequate for performing the kind of filesystem forensics that is often part of an incident response effort. It collects some information about files on its host platforms – timestamps, permissions, owner and more – but anyone with experience in forensics will tell you that there’s a lot more data available on a file system if you’re willing to dig. Think additional timestamps, unallocated metadata, or stale directory entries.

The alternatives are often closed source and expensive. They become one more item in your budget, deployment roadmap, and maintenance schedule. And none of them integrate with osquery. You have to go to the extra effort of mapping the forensic report back to your fleet.

That changes today. In partnership with Crypsis, we have integrated NTFS forensic information into the osquery interface as an extension. Consider this the first step toward a better, cost-effective, more efficient alternative that’s easier to deploy.

What it can do

The NTFS forensics extension provides specific additional file metadata from NTFS images, including filename timestamp entries, the security descriptor for files, whether a file has Alternate Data Streams (ADS), as well as other information. It also provides index entries for directory indices, including entries that are deallocated. You can find the malware that just cleaned up after itself, or altered its file timestamps but forgot about the filename timestamps, or installed a rootkit in the ADS of calc.exe, all without ever leaving osquery.

How to use it

Load the extension at the startup of osquery with the command line argument, e.g., <code>osqueryi.exe --extension path\to\ntfs_forensics.ext.exe</code>. On loading, three new tables will be added to the database: ntfs_part_data, ntfs_file_data, and ntfs_indx_data.

ntfs_part_data

This table provides information about partitions on a disk image. If queried without a specified disk image, it will attempt to interrogate the physical drives of the host system by walking up from \\.\PhysicalDrive0 until it finds a drive number it fails to open.

Enumerating partition entries in an NTFS image

ntfs_file_data

This table provides information about file entries in an NTFS file system. The device and partition columns must be specified explicitly in the WHERE clause to query the table. If the path or inode column is specified, then a single row about the specified file is returned. If the directory column is specified, then a row is returned for every file in that directory. If nothing is specified, a walk of the entire partition is performed. Because the walk of the entire partition is costly, results are cached to be reused without reperforming the entire walk. If you need fresh results of a partition walk, use the hidden column from_cache in the WHERE clause to force the collection of live data (e.g., select * from ntfs_file_data where device=”\\.\PhysicalDrive0” and partition=2 and from_cache=0;).

Displaying collected data on a single entry in an NTFS file system

ntfs_indx_data

This table provides the content of index entries for a specified directory, including index entries discovered in slack space. Like ntfs_file_data, the device and partition columns must be specified in the WHERE clause of a query, as well as either parent_path or parent_inode. Entries discovered in slack space will have a non-zero value in the slack column.

Displaying inode entries recovered from a directory index’s slack space

Getting Started

This extension offers a fast and convenient way to perform filesystem forensics on Windows endpoints as a part of an incident response. You can find it and our other osquery extensions in our repository. We’re committed to maintaining and extending our collection of extensions. Take a look, and see what else we have available.

Hire us to tailor osquery to your needs

Do you have an idea for an osquery extension? File an issue on our GitHub repo for it. Contact us for osquery development.

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