Introduction

Browsers have become an inherent part of our virtual life and we all make use of browsers for surfing the internet in some or the other way. Also, browsers can be used not only for surfing, we can make use of browsers for navigating through the file system of the OS.

You might have observed by default browsers store data like search queries, username, password, form data, emails, credit card data and other sensitive information. Also, browsers do contain downloaded media like Images, Videos, Exe’s, documents etc. Bookmarks and browser history gives an idea of the user’s surfing habit and interest.

You might have realised the browser stores a lot of sensitive information about the user and its surfing habit. Thus they play a very important role in forensics due to the nature and amount of data they store with them.

Why Browser Forensics

With the help of Browser Forensics and with the assistance of forensics tools one can extract sensitive data and chosen keywords from most web browsers. One can retrieve deleted data and keywords, check whether history was cleared, retrieve artifacts like Cookies, Downloads data, History, Saved Password, websites visited etc. Also, Browser Forensics helps a lot to understand how an attack on a system was conducted, helping in finding the source of Malwares/Adwares/Spywares, Malicious Emails and Phishing Websites etc.

There are many web browsers available like Chrome, Firefox, Safari, IE, Opera etc. depending upon the platform being used. In this post, we will be learning about how to conduct forensics for Google Chrome Browser.

Chrome

Google Chrome is one of the most popular browsers of all the browsers available. It runs on all platforms and has been developed by google.

Few salient features offered by chrome –  

1)  Can be integrated with all google services

2)  Password synchronization between various devices

3)  Plugins and extensions availability

4)  Incognito mood support

Google Chrome Artifacts

An artifact is a remnant or trace left behind on the computer which helps to identify the source of malicious traffic and attack conducted onto the system. Few examples include cache data, History, Downloads etc.

Chrome stores these artifacts inside specific folders in the operating system. The file location for every browser is different but the file format remains the same. Following are the common artifacts stored by Chrome –

1) Navigation History – This reveals navigation history of the user. It can be used to track whether a user has visited any malicious URL or not.

2) Autocomplete Data – This reveals data that has been used on various forms and search terms etc. It is used with Navigation History for more insight.

3) Bookmarks – Self Explanatory

4) Add-ons, Extensions and Plugins – Self Explanatory

5) Cache – Contains cache data from various websites like Images, Javascript Files etc

6) Logins – Self Explanatory

7) Form Data – Self Explanatory

8) Favicons – Self Explanatory

9) Session Data – Self Explanatory

10) Thumbnails – Self Explanatory

11) Favorites – Self Explanatory

12) Sensitive data – Self Explanatory

Various artifacts and its location

Following are the location of various artifacts where one can have a look while doing forensics investigation on Chrome –

1) Profile Path – This contains the majority of the artifacts and profile data of the user.

Location –

C:\Users\USER_NAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default

C:\Users\USER_NAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\UserData\ChromeDefaultData

2) Downloads + Navigation History + Search History – This is stored in SQLite Database form

Location –

C:\Users\USER_NAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\UserData\Default\History

C:\Users\USER_NAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\UserData\ChromeDefaultData\History

3) Cookies – This is also stored in SQLite Database form

Location – 

C:\Users\USER_NAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Cookies

C:\Users\USER_NAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\UserData\ChromeDefaultData\Cookies

4) Cache

Location –

C:\Users\USER_NAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Cache

C:\Users\USER_NAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\UserData\ChromeDefaultData\Cache

5) Bookmarks – Stored in JSON Format

Location –

C:\Users\USER_NAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Bookmarks

C:\Users\USER_NAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\UserData\ChromeDefaultData\Bookmarks

6) Form History – Stored in SQLite Database Form

Location –

C:\Users\USER_NAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Web Data

C:\Users\USER_NAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\UserData\ChromeDefaultData\Web Data

7) Favicons  – Stored in SQLite Database Form

Location –

C:\Users\USER_NAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Favicons

C:\Users\USER_NAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\UserData\ChromeDefaultData\Favicons

8) Logins – Stored in SQLite Database Form

Location –

C:\Users\USER_NAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\UserData\ChromeDefaultData\Login Data

9) Sessions Data

Location –

Current Sessions/Tabs

C:\Users\USER_NAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Current Session

C:\Users\USER_NAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\UserData\ChromeDefaultData\Current Session

C:\Users\USER_NAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Current Tabs

C:\Users\USER_NAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\UserData\ChromeDefaultData\Current Tabs

Last (Previous) Sessions/Tabs

C:\Users\USER_NAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Last Session

C:\Users\USER_NAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\UserData\ChromeDefaultData\Last Session

C:\Users\USER_NAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Last Tabs

C:\Users\USER_NAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\UserData\ChromeDefaultData\Last Tabs

10) Addons + Extensions – Stored in the form of Folders

C:\Users\USER_NAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Extensions\

C:\Users\USER_NAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\UserData\ChromeDefaultData\Extensions\

11)Thumbnails Stored in SQLite Database Form 

C:\Users\USER_NAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Top Sites

C:\Users\USER_NAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\UserData\Default\Thumbnails (Older versions)

Tools

Now we know different artifacts and their location let’s see what all tools can be used for performing Browser Forensics –

1) DB Browser – For opening .sqlite files.

2) Nirsoft – Web Browser Tools

3) BrowsingHistoryView

4)  ESEDatabaseView

5)  Sysinternals Strings

6)  OS Forensics

7)  Magnet IEF (Internet Evidence Finder)

8)  Browser History Viewer

9)  Browser History Examiner (Free Trial)

10) Hindsight

11) libsedb (Library to access the Extensible Storage Engine (ESE) Database File (EDB) format)

12) Web Browser Add-ons View (Use to view installed extensions and add-ons)

13) The Lazagne Project

 

Sources

  1. https://www.cybercrimechambers.com/web-browser-forensics.php
  2. https://www.digitalforensics.com/blog/an-overview-of-web-browser-forensics/
  3. https://medium.com/@nasbench/web-browsers-forensics-7e99940c579a
  4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/computer-science/forensic-artifact

Be Safe

Section Guide

Nitesh
Malviya

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Section Guide

Nitesh
Malviya

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