Authors: Nicholas Pringle and Mikhaila Burgess



When digital forensics started in the mid-1980s most of the software used for analysis came from writing and debugging software. Amongst these tools was the UNIX utility ‘dd’ which was used to create an image of an entire storage device. In the next decade the practice of creating and using ‘an image’ became established as a fundamental base of what we call ‘sound forensic practice’. By virtue of its structure, every file within the media was an integrated part of the image and so we were assured that it was wholesome representation of the digital crime scene. In an age of terabyte media ‘the image’ is becoming increasingly cumbersome to process, simply because of its size. One solution to this lies in the use of distributed systems. However, the data assurance inherent in a single media image file is lost when data is stored in separate files distributed across a system. In this paper we assess current assurance practices and provide some solutions to the need to have assurance within a distributed system.