Data Forensics

Data forensics is one of the sub branches of computer forensics. It is essential to establish legal evidences as found in computers and its storage media. Its primary goal is to give a clear explanation of a digital artifact’s state. Digital artifacts include storage devices, computer systems or electronic documents.

Data forensics are employed for a couple of reasons. It is a significant portion of data recovery for either hardware or software failures. It also helps analyze how an attacker was able to break-in to a system. It is also important to gather information about an employee that a certain organization wants to terminate. Alongside all these reasons, different steps are followed in the database forensics process.

There are several steps involved in the entire forensics process. These are as follows:

• Preparation of the investigator. An investigator must have an ample background of the subject matter. He should be trained enough to know the facets of the process. He validates all data needed by the courts basing on generated reports. Since there are many tools to choose from, the investigator should determine the appropriate tool to be applied for the case.

• Collection of data. The data are gathered in the form of digital evidences. Data forensics make use of tools such as computers, hard drives, CD-ROMs and even cellular phones or digital cameras. The data should be carefully handled to assure that no changes are made. Documentation and the use of reliable tools will help secure the collected data for forensics use.

• Examination. There are two ways by which data are examined. Traditionally, the dead data analysis is employed. This is one method where investigations are performed on hard drives or any data at rest. Currently, the live data analysis is also used. This is helpful when the attacker does not make use of the computer’s hard drive. This is also important if the person makes use of cryptographic storage devices where data intervention may no longer be seen once the computer shuts-off.

Once the data are gathered and examined, the data forensics investigator may report the incident to management or to whoever needs the data. Following these steps require careful scrutiny of the scenario. This will ensure that all legal actions will be imposed on the attacker. In like manner, it will help dictate the punishment to be given to the offender.

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Computer Repair Business

If you have been considering setting up a small business within your home and you happen to be good with computers, you might want to consider running a computer repair business out of your home. There are many things that you can do when it comes to computer repairs, and two of the most popular are software applications and hardware repair and or instillation. People today rely heavily on their computers as a means to keep in touch with friends and family, and some people much like you are running a small business from their home. If these machines go down, someone is going to need to fix them for these people why not you?

Fixing Machines

A computer repair business from your home can actually be a very profitable company. There are many things that people look forward to what it comes to their computer; if their machine breaks they are going to need help. This is where you can come into the picture, and you will have the opportunity to making a lot of money. If the people that run a small business from home bring you their machine, you can expect that they are going to pay you handsomely to get them back on the field. Every day that they are down, is essentially money lost. This is why you have a chance of making an excellent income. Some simple tools and a bit of space in your home are all that it really requires today.

Installing Software

With a computer repair business you are going to encounter clients that are looking for tune ups or even software upgrades. This is something that has the potential to be very lucrative for you, as you can find the software at wholesale cost and install it retail and charge labor. This will bring you a good deal of money from this area of the business, as there are many people that look to have their machines current and up to date with their programs. With so many different programs on the market, you should not be surprised to find some people that simply want you to fully load their machines with programs. This is because it can be a time consuming affair to load a program on a computer, some people simply do not have the time or the patience.

Great For Your Own Machine

If you are running a computer repair business from your home, you will actually have an easy time not only working on your own machine but acquiring great software for it as well. You will meet many people along the way, and chances are someone will come to you with great contacts. This will help push your business further, and you can actually see even more growth than you had originally anticipated. This will be great for you and the small business that you started, as you will then see that you may have to hire someone to help you in the growing company.

Roger Barnes writes home business, work from home and related articles for the Home Business Selection website at http://www.homebusinessselection.com

How to Synchronise Your Windows PC to a Time Server

Do you regularly need to correct the time on your PC? The answer is probably “Yes!”. This is because computers have very poor time-keeping hardware. Often, the system clock in a regular PC can drift by minutes each day. However, help is at hand. It is very easy to synchronise the time on your Microsoft Windows computer with one of the most accurate clocks in the world. This article describes how to configure your Windows system to synchronise it’s internal system time with an Internet based ‘atomic time’ reference.

PC’s utilise an internal hardware real-time clock to maintain time. Generally, this hardware clock circuit utilises very low-cost components. This results in poor time-keeping performance. It is not unusual for a computer to loose minutes each day. There are hardware solutions available, which can improve timekeeping, such as more precision crystal oscillators. However, modifying PC’s at board level is not an option for most users. Additionally, accurate time-keeping hardware can be prohibitively expensive. Ideally, a software solution to maintain accurate time is required. This is where the Network Time Protocol (NTP) comes in.

NTP is one of the oldest Internet protocols still in regular use today. Dr David Mills of the University of Dellaware invented it over 25 years ago. He recognised the need to synchronise time critical processes across the Internet. The Network Time Protocol allows client computers to synchronise to an accurate time reference over the Internet. NTP uses the UDP (User Datagram Protocol) over IP (Internet Protocol) to request time from an accurate time reference. It then waits for and accepts a response from the server before updating it’s internal system time with the supplied reference time.

There are many NTP Servers residing on the Internet. Government or educational institutions generally maintain them. A NTP server obtains highly accurate time from an external time reference such as GPS or Radio and maintains this time internally. It then distributes the precise time to network time clients.

The latest Microsoft Windows operating systems, such as XP and Vista, incorporate a SNTP (Simple Network Time Protocol) client. This client can easily be used to synchronise to an Internet or locally based NTP server. The client is configured from the time and date properties applet in the control panel, or by double clicking on the time in the system tray. One of the time properties tabs is labelled ‘Internet time’. On this tab is a field called “Server” which accepts either the IP address or domain name of a NTP time server. Click the “Update Now” button and Windows will attempt to synchronise with the selected time reference. Ensure that the “Automatically Synchronise with an Internet Time Source” option is ticked and Windows will periodically update time from the reference automatically, thus keeping your system clock accurate.

If synchronisation fails then ensure that the supplied IP address or domain name of the NTP server is correct. Alternatively, it may be your firewall that is preventing communication with the time server. NTP operates on UDP port 123, so you must ensure that this port is left open on your firewall. The Windows firewall can be accessed from the Control Panel. To open NTP port 123, open the Windows Security Centre and select ‘Manage Security Settings for Windows Firewall’. From the Windows Firewall applet select the ‘Exceptions’ tab. Click ‘Add Port’ to add an exception to the firewall. Enter a name for the exception, such as ‘NTP port’, and port number ‘123’ and check UDP. Click OK to accept the settings. If you have a separate combined firewall and ADSL router, you may need to refer to your manufacturers documentation to find out how to open a port on the firewall.

To conclude, most computers keep extremely poor time. For many applications that rely on accurate time stamps, this can be entirely unacceptable. However, by utilising the Network Time Protocol, everyone can ensure that their computers system time is kept in sync with the most accurate clock in the world!

Please visit TimeTools website for more information and articles on NTP servers, network time synchronisation and time server solutions.

Data Recovery Equipment

Today, computers are an integral and indispensable part of the IT world. No matter what your line may be, finance, education, business consulting and investigation, IT information security, or else. In fact, most people always take it for granted. You should never brag your computer can be failure-free.

The foremost use of computer is data storage. All the data is stored on a physical disk named hard disk drive which is a magnetic layer. And it is more likely to be stricken by a wide variety of reasons, such as a partition lost, system can not access, human mistake (accidental reformatting, deletion), file corruption, power surge, and virus attack, to the worst, these physical level failures typically are head crash, platter scratch, and motor failures caused by overwriting, physical damages, natural disasters, etc.

Sometimes a hard drive has been stricken dead or not working at all without any warning signs, but some other times there may be some clues that something is going bad or amiss. Such changes in performance or sudden blue screens are telltale signs that the hard drive may be on its way to collapse. The most obvious and common sign are clicking, squealing, scraping or grinding noises.

The computer become more involved in our daily life, so the danger of data loss also surfaces.

As most of us have already experienced data loss, it could be frustrated and traumatic, when you finally find your critical data are not able to recover. As a matter of fact, logical failures as I previously mentioned, a data recovery software program can simply work out, but speaking of physical failures, No! Those drives with minor physical failures will need a special equipment to repair hard drive itself or recover data.

Why data recovery software will stop there? The ordinary user-level repeated-read access method that is used by imaging software bring a risk of damaging the disk and head, making data lost irretrievable. Also the software skips bad sectors directly in order not to get hang (freeze). Even so it gets hang most of the time in case the drive has lost of bad sectors. Plus, there is no guarantee that all the data will be extracted as much as possible, though days or weeks of time wasted on imaging bad drives. That’s why you should avoid it at all cost.

A unique data recovery equipment known as Data Compass is mostly used among experts and practitioners worldwide, where traditional tools can not reach the height. Data Compass reads data of each sector physically byte-to-byte, including good and bad, and copy to a good disk using its data extraction software and hardware. “Shadow Disk” technology allows Data Compass to maximally avoid further damage to the drive, and ensure the data is not lost from repeated recovery attempts.

Technically speaking, it is hard to figure out how exactly the data can be recovered. It all depends. In most cases, data will be able to recover as long as the parts of hard drive are not severely damaged, otherwise you should swap its components then like platters, heads, and a spindle motor, for example.

A current tool named “hard drive head/platter exchange professional” used for drive disassembling and head/platter exchange will be replaced by the vendor soon. The change is made for optimization reason, and the new product is a better enhancement; plus, the new platter exchanger allows users to work on hard drive with spacers between platters.

If you have known much about data recovery and if you have a craving for this field, you should start your own business with a right equipment and then you can be an expert. Of course, it is not easy to find a proper option from current data recovery equipments with sky-high price in economy hard times. It is even worse when comes to new versions of software to products you are possessing, vendors will charge every time. In this case, free of charge upgrade service is the way to go.

All rights reserved. Free to copy. No adaptation.

To learn much more about hard drive data recovery solutions, please visit salvationdata.com where you can get more free information on specialized data recovery equipment and firmware repair tools.

The Seventh Cloud

Have you ever thought of pushing an operating system into its own recycle bin? Well, it may not be possible practically but that’s what most of them thought after using Microsoft Windows Vista. After getting used to Windows XP, which undeniably ruled over the last 8 years in the home and corporate segment, people’s expectations increased when Microsoft tuned Vista. Though it was able to deliver the look and feel of a stylish new operating system, the performance part pulled it down. Few of them used it as they couldn’t find any better option. Macintosh was heavy for pockets; Linux was too techy for beginners and so the only option was Windows. Being in a computer manufacturing industry, I had a chance to closely connect with users and understand the needs and expectations from an operating system. It’s like you buy a new car and the very next day you realize there’s a big dent on it, and that’s when you repair and that’s what Microsoft did with Vista Service pack 1. But most of them chose to exchange the car instead of repairing it and so the manufacturer had to come up with a better one.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please put your hands together for Windows 7. If you are wondering what it is, you are either too far from technology or too close to dreams. For advanced users, I need not say anything because you guys are too interested to know it yourself. So, I will keep this article simple and straight which gives a sample peak into the world of windows. Don’t worry, it won’t be too technical, but I guess Microsoft expects its users to be on cloud 7 if not on 9 after the release. If you are fascinated to know more and want to disintegrate your brain and slobber over the operating system, you better download the Windows 7 beta.

I have done the Windows Seven installation and setup, I obviously installed and tested few basic applications like Norton Internet Security 2009, iTunes, Adobe Flash Player, Adobe Reader 9, Skype, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Office 2007, Virtual Dub, SpyBot Search and Destroy. The beta version is offered only for a limited period and is purely for testing. So, anyone trying it out, there is an option for feedback where you can kill your frustration. Installation speed for the above mentioned software’s was quick, Microsoft Office 2007 being the slowest. I had to install it from a disc and the extra tad of time was taken in staging the installation files to a local store. When you install applications from the local drive or from an USB Flash storage device, the installation speed is much faster. The startling one out of all was Norton. Traditionally a slow installation, it went through in less than 4 minutes (not counting the system scan). I’ll be trying more stuff as time passes though. In scenarios where the installed application was not compatible, the operating system reaction was parallel to Vista. If you are guy with patience, you have few options to send the information to Microsoft and to retry the installation with recommended compatibility settings.

One of the major changes in the UI (User Interface) is the taskbar. It’s wide and has only icons of the running applications. Personally, I didn’t like the change but it doesn’t look that bad either. There are some appealing features like Peek but that can be understood better when you look at it. Overall, it’s a decent upgrade but again if you want to compare with Mac, all the best!!

The annoying part in Vista was the User account control (U.A.C). For those who used it, it’s the screen which prompts or blocks you from installing and asks permissions to continue, even though you trust that application. The user account control has been redesigned in Windows Seven, but the application installation has not changed much. For the programs which are inbuilt, thankfully we do not require U.A.C grants. For example, TaskManager (All User Mode) Device manager, Disk Management, Services and a host of other control panels and windows apps load directly without U.A.C prompting you to grant access. However non-native applications continue to have U.A.C. prompts. This behavior can be controlled even better in Windows Seven. Instead of the plain vanilla on / off modes that U.A.C support in Vista, Windows Seven has an improved U.A.C control panel, that allows you to adjust your U.A.C needs.

Compared to the publicity that was generated when Vista was first showcased, Seven has so far seen a lukewarm response in terms of the number of people grabbing the beta. Reason could be in the fact that the driver model is backward compatible and most Vista Compatible hardware also works with Seven, which was not the case during the Xp-Vista jump. So, it is possible that people are moving up the upgrade chain, however finding minor quantity of troubles to deal with. The versions of the operating system are pretty much same as Vista, and yes we can expect the upgrade from Vista to Windows 7.

The probable upgrade path looks something similar to this:

1. Windows Vista Home Premium -> Windows 7 Home Premium

2. Windows Vista Business -> Windows 7 Professional

3. Windows Vista Ultimate -> Windows 7 Ultimate

Microsoft Windows Vista® Home Basic, Windows Vista® Starter Edition, and Windows® XP (all editions) are not qualifying products under the program.

Good or Bad, we are going to see it and we are going to try it, and let’s hope Windows 7 is actually Windows 7 and not just Windows vista service pack 2.

Measuring the Business Value of Project Data

Can you imagine losing all business data including your accounts receivable, project data and customer information? What would you do? As business owners with years of expertise in our field, we are proud of the many projects we have completed, the clients that we have long relationships with and the incredible education and project experience of our key staff. For any firm that has been in business for many years, the information about our projects and people is captured in multiple documents, reports, resumes and proposals within our business.

Multiple databases may capture significant company information about your company. If you have a project accounting database to capture time and expense on your projects, there is a significant amount of detailed data about each of these projects. You may also have other data sources including a CRM database, HR system, proposal and photo library or Outlook that captures a wealth of information needed and used every day to manage projects, people, maintain client relationships and win new business. What is the value of all of this important data?

Most firms do not recognize or put adequate value on their project data, and therefore do not protect its integrity, security or preservation in an adequate manner. The intention for this article is twofold – to try and help you put a “price” or value on your project data, and help create an urgency around assessing and improving the disaster recovery methods employed by your firm.

While we know there is a value to our experience and the projects our firm has completed, we do not show this asset on our balance sheet with a dollar value. For a firm that has been in business a long time or worked on many high profile projects, the value could be significant. These projects help us win many new projects and gain notoriety and publicity. We use this information daily when bidding new projects and analyzing our performance and profitability to determine where to cut costs or change the scope of a contract.

For a firm with 10 years experience, averaging 25 employees over the years, the data could be valued in the ballpark of $250,000! This is based on personally witnessing many clients that have lost their data, and the incredible cost of re-creation. Losing data is more common than you might think. During my 23 years of software consulting, firms lost data due to fire, hardware failure, software failure, theft, backup failure, sabotage and viruses.

While many of our clients recognize the value of their past project data, we are constantly astounded by those clients willing to “start over” and not convert their entire past project history when converting to a new system. For example, in 2008, we had two of our Deltek FMS clients lose all of their system data. In both cases the cause was hardware failure with malfunctioning backups. Our consultants saw first hand the huge amount of work and unbelievable cost of trying to re-create this data from old reports, invoices, bank statements and timesheets.

But losing the data is just a small part of this disastrous experience. Our clients now lacked the ability to bill on time or collect outstanding receivables, as well as track costs on their current projects. These costs added up exponentially. Because of payroll and billing deadlines, these clients had to get up and running as quickly as possible. They faced challenges due to incomplete information. Both the financial and intangible costs of this scenario were enormous. Our goal is to help our clients avoid this type of business disaster.

Measuring the business value of your project history and the cost to replace lost history will help you identify how important this data is to your firm. Our company has developed a questionnaire to help our client’s value their historical data. The questionnaire identifies critical information about your firm such as number of years in business, number of and duration of projects, employees, number of years of historical data available and the types and complexity of projects you have completed or are in progress. It will also identify the number and types of proposals generated each year, the types of data being tracked in addition to basic accounting (HR, Govt. Compliance, Payroll, etc) and the diversity of experience of your team. Once this data has been complied, you will begin to understand the value your data provides to your firm each month, and the cost to replace it (or opportunity cost of not having it).

This data must be protected and knowing its true value to your firm will hopefully help you make better decisions about future data conversions, software upgrades, internal controls, security, disaster recovery, virus protection, possible mergers and acquisitions and hardware purchases. Although this historical business asset can not be reflected on your balance sheet, you can start to incorporate the belief that this valuable asset is critical to your firm’s practices and decisions.

The intention for this article was not to scare you. It was to help you recognize the tremendous asset that your firm has because of all of the amazing project experience in your system. It is also meant to motivate you to determine the value of this data and do everything you can to protect it just like you would any other asset of this amount.

About June R. Jewell, CPA and Jewell & Associates: June R. Jewell has over 20 years of business management software consulting experience and unsurpassed knowledge of the industries her company serves. As an innovative leader she is committed to providing the best in professional services and her company’s mission is to help every client to grow profitably. Jewell & Associates, a Deltek Premier Partner, has been providing clients with enterprise business solutions for over 18 years. With over 750 clients and offices in Northern Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida and Colorado, Jewell & Associates has consulting staff for planning, implementation, deployment and training for Deltek Vision software. Visit Jewell & Associates http://www.jewellassociates.com

The Security of USB Flash Drives

Even the biggest USB flash drive is still smaller than most people’s thumbs. Since we carry these devices to numerous locations, there is a fairly good chance that we will eventually lose them. If this should happen, most of us simply hope there was nothing sensitive on the drive. However, that is not the only thing you can do. There are some basic USB flash drive security measures available.

If your flash drive carries some sensitive information that you hope to keep from ending up online by the next day, security measures available range from secure partitions to encryption options. Secure partitions are a rudimentary form of security – a password protected partition is created on the drive, using a utility supplied by the manufacturer, this makes a public partition and a secure one.

In most cases, it is not possible to access these partitions at the same time, it is often necessary to log into the secure partition, hiding the public one. Not all controllers feature this limitation. Using a version of your utility, someone else could re-partition the drive. However, they would not have access to the data you have stored on the secure partition.

There are other USB flash drives that are much more specialised, they offer the same sort of secure, password protected partition. However, they also encrypt data stored on that partition, making it much harder for people to get to your data. While encryption algorithms can be broken, having encryption on your USB drive is an extra layer of security you can offer your data.

The down side to drives that use encryption is that some of them only perform this encryption in software that results in lower performance on the drive when encryption is enabled. Few manufacturers use a hardware based engine capable of encrypting and decrypting files at a higher speed to prevent performance penalties when you access a secure partition that’s using encryption.

The problem with both of these security approaches is that they are mostly dependent on software; the majority of manufacturers of USB flash drives only provide Windows based software support.

What does that mean for Macintosh users and people who use a Linux distribution or other unusual operating system? Security for USB flash drives is mostly still a matter of keeping good track of them. While it is possible to access public partitions on almost all systems, accessing the secure partition generally requires access to Windows.

USB flash drive security is still in its infancy, since these drives aren’t routinely used by people with a need to secure their data. As they become more widespread and the need for security increases, expect flash drive security options to increase as well. For now, partitioning and encrypting are the major options available, though.

Windows users are in luck and can make use of both of these options effectively to preserve their data. However, users of operating systems that aren’t compatible with the software on the drive must simply try not to let their USB flash drives fall into the wrong hands.

Derek Rogers is a freelance writer who writes for a number of UK businesses. For logo branded Custom Flash Drives, he recommends Flashbay.com.

Managed Hosting Can Help You?

At present occupied and the competitiveness of the industry, the time for companies is not just an option. In the past, when a company of the CPU no, it meant a big problem. The time it takes to either replace or rebuild the CPU that had the potential to completely paralyze the company. In today’s market, there is no time to rebuild or replace and that many companies do not even have the option. However, further progress with companies once afraid of reconstruction and replacement of no longer have any reason to worry. With the new Managed Hosting worry about the CPU failure no longer has to be a nightmare.

Managed Hosting is a safe and reliable backup of the information about your CPU in the event of an accident or a system failure. The Good managed hosting system is not only extremely reliable, but is much cheaper than many forms of back-up place at present. With the Good system can work at ease knowing that in the event of a failure, the CPU Managed Hosting server backup 100% of your CPU and can provide very fast recovery time for the corruption!

Not only the housing offer managed backup for your CPU, but also offers much more. It is foreseeable that with the data transfer systems, 24 hours a day dedicated firewalls, which monitor and manage your CPU and other storage systems. It offers load balancing, which is beneficial to companies large and small, it enables all systems to share the same burden, rather than a machine is overloaded.

Managed Hosting with ensuring 100% uptime, some companies promise that you will have 100% of its network availability or you will receive 10% of their monthly fee back for half a day and even up to 100% the monthly fee! They can also provide a setting the hardware, meaning that if your hardware is not fixed within the hour, you get a 5% of their monthly fee back! Along with instant retrieval system, which means that if your system is not being worked on ten minutes and is not fixed in time, you get 10% of their monthly fee back! Apparently, most important, they can offer our support throughout the year.

Now think about it. The server crashes and has no Good Managed Hosting. You do not have the support to the floor, the hardware is not backup of your network is unavailable, your system can not be recovered and has customers waiting in his office for information on their promises. Can we really afford to lose customers, or will be so comprehensive as to wait three weeks to obtain these documents. I do not want to know! Good Managed Hosting is the top of the line back-up system for its top of the line of the company.