The Basics of Network Forensics

The Basics of Network Forensics

The process of capture, recording, and analysis of network packets to determine the source of network security attacks is known as Network Forensics. In addition, network forensics is also the process of detecting intrusion patterns and focusing on attack activities. It collects data from different sites and different network equipment such as Firewalls and IDS in order to analyze the network traffic data. Furthermore, network forensics can be used to prevent, and analyze potential attacks.

Network Forensics examinations have seven steps including Identification, Preservation, Collection, Examination, Analysis, and Presentation and Incident Response.

  1. Identification

Identification process has a huge impact on the following steps as this step is the path to the conclusion of the case. This steps includes the process of recognizing and determining an incident based on network indicators.

  1. Preservation

In the second process, the examiner will isolate the data for the preservation and security purposes in order to prevent people from using the digital device so that the digital evidence is not tampered with. There are many software tools for the preservation of the data such as Autopsy and Encase.

  1. Collection

Collection is the process of recording the physical scene and duplicating digital evidence using standardized methods and procedures.

  1. Examination

This process includes keeping a record of all the visible data. The examiner might find many pieces of metadata from data which might be helpful to bring to court.

  1. Analysis

After identification and preservation of the evidence (data), the investigation agents will reconstruct fragments of data. Based on the analysis of the data, the agent draws the conclusion based on the  evidence. Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) software gives a track record of the activities with the IT environment. The SIEM tools analyze log and event data in real time to provide threat listening, event correlation and incident response – with security information management (SIM) which collects, analyzes and reports on log data.

  1. Presentation

The meaning for Forensic means to bring to the court. The process of summarizing and explanation of conclusions is done. This should be written in a layperson’s term using abstracted terminologies and all the abstract terminologies should reference the specific details.

  1. Incident Response

The intrusion detected is based on the information gathered to validate and assess the incident.

Know the Tools

Thus these seven steps are the process of Network Forensics. Network Forensic Analysis Tools allow network investigators and administrators review networks and gather information about anomalous or malicious traffic. For the general purposes network tools such as dumpcap, tcpdump, Xplico and NetworkMiner are helpful. On the other hand, for the specific tasks tools include Intrusion Detection (snort), Match Regular expression (ngrep), print network (ntop, tstat, tcpstat) can be used. Also, Libraries and frameworks such as python library (Scapy, Libpcap) are used for the network forensics process.

These tools are used for many purposes; to capture and analyze nature traffics, evaluation of network performance, detection of anomalies, determination of network protocols in use, security investigation and incident response, and protection of intellectual property. There are always new innovations and updates on the new tools and technology. Thus, it is important to stay updated with the software and systems.


In general sense, Forensics is anything to do with court proceedings. Any organization who got attacked should be able to get back on their feet quickly and efficiently. For example in the case of Network Forensics, if someone has sent an infected e-mail or whether it’s an attacker who has broken into the web server through a commonly known vulnerability. Organizations such as Sony, Target, Home Depot and countless others have been attacked and suffered. Thus, there is a real need for forensics practitioners who can deal with network data because companies are using intrusion detection systems which helps to perform a wire recording on a continuous basis in case an incident takes place. “The network is the best place to capture what really happened because the network—the actual wire—can’t lie.”


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