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Practicing the DFIR basics with the Digital Forensics Workbook

Digital Forensics is not a passively learned discipline. Unfortunately, many practitioners are a part of "push button" forensics, which is a necessary evil in some instances to process a high amount of cases. 

My favorite introduction into immediately working with digital forensics in the Digital Forensics Workbook by Michael K Robinson.  This book was published in 2015. Many of the activities are still valid, but some of them no longer work or are no longer valid due to technological change. I would still use this workbook to teach and find 80+% still usable. I applaud Michael Robinson for writing the book that we needed in digital forensics and I hope that he produces a new one in the coming years. 

A complaint I've received from students is that this workbook is very Windows focused. Some do not want to bother with making these exercises work on an operating system that allows them to claim superiority over each other. I do not believe Michael intended his readers to be insistent on only using Black Arch. 

In order to take advantage of the workbook, I would suggest the following Virtual Machine:
- Windows 10 Home (or Education, Pro)
- 4 GB RAM (not more, not less)
- 32 GB harddrive size 
whatever else your heart desires, more threads the better 

There are a few activities that will require you to image your own RAM, and if you have more RAM than this, these activities are going to take a long time. For example, activity 21-1 "Acquisition of Memory and Recovery of File/Password from Memory" is going to take a decent lunch break. Using a virtual machine will give you the flexibility to do these assignments without having to conform to the specific environment Michael had, which some people find difficult to conceptualize. 

Activity 17-2 "File Carving with Carver Recovery" was very useful when I first used the book, but now the tool is archived on Google Code and the author, Christopher Doman, took down his website. The activity still works though, but many not in the coming years. 

This is one of the issues that practitioners will come across frequently in digital forensics, tools are frequently abandoned and out of date and yet some of our most reliable tools are also old and out of date. Take for example, grep. When was the last time grep had an update? But it's still reliable and considered forensically sound. Bahh - different post for a different day. 

In short - I recommend using this book if you want to practice digital forensics, and for those who are brand-new or novice in the field. There are online copies of this book floating around, if the Amazon cost is prohibitive. 

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