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Building a Digital Forensics and Incident Response Offsite Response Kit

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    This image shows items associated with emergency preparedness. In the foreground, there is an 'Emergency Preparedness Checklist' clipboard with a yellow pencil resting on it. Behind the clipboard are batteries, presumably for the red flashlight that lies in front of a bottle of water. To the right, there are other emergency supplies, including a rolled-up beige bandage and items labeled 'Emergency First Aid.' The items are arranged on a wooden surface, suggesting a state of preparation for an emergency situation. The overall impression is one of readiness and organization for potential emergencies.

    Overview

    A well-equipped kit is crucial when dispatching an incident response team to an offsite location to manage a cyber incident. This holds true whether the team is addressing issues within a branch office of their own organization or providing consultancy services to others for incident response. Investing in a reliable set of tools and equipment is vital for effective incident management. Our curated list features rigorously tested equipment that has proven effective in various situations across the nation. For added convenience, we’ve also compiled a comprehensive shopping list to assemble this essential kit.

    Highlights

    • Essentiality of a Robust Incident Response Kit: Dive into why a comprehensive digital forensic and incident response (DFIR) kit is indispensable for effective incident management, particularly for offsite cyber incidents.

    • Preparing for Diverse Challenges: Explore the various scenarios incident response teams encounter, from analyzing network traffic to physical hardware investigations, and understand the significance of being well-prepared.

    • Kit Portability and Durability: Learn about the importance of a kit that’s both easily transportable and durable. We discuss options like robust carrying cases and tailored foam inserts for organized and secure equipment transportation.

    • Proven Tools and Equipment: Discover the types of tools and equipment that have stood the test of time in real-world incident responses. We delve into essential hardware and software, emphasizing the necessity of regular updates.

    • Navigating Legal and Compliance Issues: Gain insight into the critical role of legal compliance in evidence collection and handling, featuring essential tools and documentation like chain-of-custody forms.

    • Real-World Applications and Insights: Benefit from Natsar’s 20+ years of experience of conducting DFIR engagements.

    • Your Comprehensive Assembly Checklist: We provide a detailed checklist and guide to help you assemble your own digital forensic and incident response kit, ensuring you’re fully equipped for various incident response scenarios.

    Recommendations

    When assembling a DFIR kit, it’s important to strategize based on potential incidents and the systems you might encounter. A well-prepared kit is your frontline tool in addressing diverse cyber challenges. Here are some solid recommendations to consider:

    1. Evidence Collection and Storage: The foundation of your kit should be reliable tools for evidence seizure and acquisition. This includes high-quality imaging tools like write-blockers for safely copying data without altering it. For physical evidence, consider durable, tamper-evident bags and secure containers. These are essential for maintaining the integrity of the evidence from the collection point to the lab.

    2. Network Forensics Tools: Equip your kit with hardware and software for capturing and analyzing network traffic. Portable network taps and a robust laptop preloaded with software like Wireshark are indispensable. Also, include Ethernet cables and a portable Wi-Fi analyzer to diagnose network issues on the go.

    3. Cross-Platform Readiness: Given the variety of operating systems you might encounter, include tools that support Windows, macOS, Linux, and various mobile platforms. Bootable USB drives with forensic Linux distributions can be crucial for analyzing different systems, while specialized software like EnCase or FTK adds depth to your investigative capabilities.

    4. Documentation and Reporting: Accurate documentation is key in forensics. A good digital camera is necessary for capturing the state of hardware and recording initial observations. Secure communication tools for team coordination and encrypted USB drives for sensitive data are also vital. 

    5. Legal Compliance: In addition to evidence supplies and a camera, you should equip your kit with chain-of-custody forms. This ensures that evidence is admissible in court and that your methods align with legal expectations.

    6. Customization and Flexibility: Finally, consider the modular design of your kit. Depending on the incident, you might need to focus more on network forensics or physical device analysis. Modular kits allow you to swap in and out specific tools as required.

    Remember, regular training and updates are as crucial as the physical components of your kit. Keep your team up-to-date with the latest forensic methodologies and legal requirements. Regular drills and knowledge updates ensure that when your team is called into action, they are not just equipped with tools, but also with the latest knowledge and skills.

    Details

    Over the past 20 years, our staff has been performing DFIR engagements and after thousands of cyber investigations, we have built, refined, and rebuilt DFIR kits. We have used our kits in law enforcement environments, federal national security agencies, and private companies, adapting them for new technologies and the situations our team encounters. 

    Below is a downloadable resource of the latest equipment our team uses when building DFIR kits. Note – If you click on a link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

    In our Managing a Digital Forensics Lab course, we discuss offsite response and cover various considerations for onsite data acquisition and analysis. 

    No matter what type of kit you decide to build, the worst thing that can happen is to let it sit in a closet and collect dust. If you need the kit and find out that people have taken equipment out of it, or batteries are dead, or items are outdated, it does no good for a rapid response.

    Our crafted kits can support the needs of several DFIR analysts at once, providing them with the necessary tools for tasks like tapping network traffic, seizing digital evidence, creating forensic images, storing memory acquisitions, and conducting network reconnaissance and forensics, among others.

    You can tailor the contents to meet your specific needs, and the kit’s size is adjustable to prioritize what’s most essential for your operations.

    After assembling your kit, it’s a good practice to photograph its layout and contents. This helps in remembering how each piece of equipment fits into the custom foam cutouts you’ll create.

    Training your team on the proper use of every item in the kit is crucial. Additionally, consider designating a team member to oversee the kit’s maintenance. This includes updating and patching the equipment, as well as conducting regular inventories. To prevent equipment from being borrowed and not returned, using a tamper seal once the kit is fully stocked can be effective. We highly recommended it to establish a routine for quarterly checks, such as inspecting batteries, updating systems, etc.

    Did we miss something from our kit? Leave a comment and let us know!

    Picture of Josh Moulin

    Josh Moulin

    Josh Moulin has been in the cybersecurity field for over two decades and worked in a variety of roles. He is the founder and principal of Natsar, a cybersecurity company in New York, USA. Previously, he has served in roles including the Senior VP of Operations at the Center for Internet Security (CIS), commander of an FBI cybercrimes task force, director of an ASCLD/LAB accredited digital forensics lab, Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) of a national security program within the United States nuclear weapons enterprise, and an Executive Partner at Gartner, the world’s largest research and advisory company. Josh is considered an expert in cybersecurity, risk management, and organizational leadership and frequently engages with companies around the world on these and other topics. He has a Master of Science Degree in Information Security Assurance and the following certifications: CAWFE, CEH, CFCE, CHFI, CISSP, CNDA, DFCP, GCFA, GCFR, GCIA, GIME, and GSEC.

    2 thoughts on “Building a Digital Forensics and Incident Response Offsite Response Kit”

    1. Thank you so much for this! I have been looking for a kit like this for my IR team and really like how this is laid out. Appreciate the time and providing all of the links!

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