Authors: James Okolica and Gilbert Peterson (US Air Force Institute of Technology)



Memory analysis is an integral part of any computer forensic investigation, providing access to volatile data not found on a drive image. While memory analysis has recently made significant progress, it is still hampered by hard-coded tools that cannot generalize beyond the specific operating system and version they were developed for. This paper proposes using the debug structures embedded in memory dumps and Microsoft’s program database (PDB) files to create a flexible tool that takes an arbitrary memory dump from any of the family of Windows NT operating systems and extract process, configuration, and network activity information. The debug structures and PDB files are incorporated into a memory analysis tool and tested against dumps from 32-bit Windows XP with physical address extensions (PAE) enabled and disabled, 32-bit Windows Vista with PAE enabled, and 64-bit Windows 7 systems. The results show the analysis tool is able to identify and parse an arbitrary memory dump and extract process, registry, and network communication information.