James Wagner (DePaul University)
Alexander Rasin (DePaul University)
Jonathan Grier (Grier Forensics)


Forensic tools assist analysts with recovery of both the data and system events, even from corrupted storage. These tools typically rely on “file carving” techniques to restore files after metadata loss by analyzing the remaining raw file content. A significant amount of sensitive data is stored and processed in relational databases thus creating the need for database forensic tools that will extend file carving solutions to the database realm. Raw database storage is partitioned into individual “pages” that cannot be read or presented to the analyst without the help of the database itself. Furthermore, by directly accessing raw database storage, we can reveal things that are normally hidden from database users. There exists a number of database-specific tools developed for emergency database recovery, though not usually for forensic analysis of a database. In this paper, we present a universal tool that seamlessly supports many different databases, rebuilding table and other data content from any remaining storage fragments on disk or in memory. We define an approach for automatically (with minimal user intervention) reverse engineering storage in new databases, for detecting volatile data changes and discovering user action artifacts. Finally, we empirically verify our tool's ability to recover both deleted and partially corrupted data directly from the internal storage of different databases. © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd on behalf of DFRWS. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/ 4.0/).