In the rapidly changing principality of technology and the vast expanse of digital information, upholding the integrity of evidence stands as an indispensable facet of every investigation. Within the domain of digital forensics/ cyber forensics, which encompasses the retrieval and scrutiny of electronic data for legal intents, this principle remains unshaken. Amid the array of tools accessible to digital forensics experts, one tool emerges as exceptionally pivotal in upholding evidence credibility -Write Blocker
Within this blog, we will deeply delve into the significance of write blockers, elucidate their functionalities, varieties, and the pivotal function they undertake in ensuring the dependability of digital evidence.
What is Write Blockers & Why it is used?
A write blocker is a hardware device designed to prevent any writing operations from being performed on a storage device under investigation. In simple term, it acts as a barrier between the storage device and the computer used for analysis, ensuring that no data is written back to the device while allowing only read operations to take place. This is a vital function, as any modification to the original data could compromise its authenticity and admissibility in court.
What is the importance of Data Integrity and Chain of Custody?
In the digital world, data is the new gold. It holds immense value in legal proceedings. When digital evidence is collected during an investigation, it must be treated with utmost care to ensure its integrity. Write blockers plays a significant role in this process by preventing unintentional alterations to the data. Even the most skilled forensic analysts can inadvertently make changes if not equipped with the proper safeguards. Write blockers provide a secure mechanism to prevent any accidental modifications, thereby maintaining the evidentiary value of the data as a Digital Evidence.
Now here arises, the need of maintaining Chain of Custody along with Data Integrity. So, when we talk about Chain of Custody, it is a critical aspect of any Forensic Investigation. It involves documenting the handling, transfer, and storage of evidence to establish its authenticity and reliability in a court of law and all of which contribute to preserving data integrity.
By using a write blocker, every step of the process can be meticulously documented, showcasing the unbroken chain of custody. This documentation serves as a testament to the evidence’s journey from the source to the courtroom, enhancing its credibility and trustworthiness.
What types of Write Blockers are used for different storage devices?
Before understanding its type, one should know that what all types of storage devices and their interfaces are. When talking about write Blockers, Write Blockers are of different types depending upon the storage drive interfaces. Storage devices serves as repositories for digital data such as documents, backups, photos, videos, applications, etc. Common types of storage devices are:
Hard Disk Drives- SATA, PATA/IDE, SAS
Solid State Drives- NVMe, mSATA, M.2, Blade type SSD
USB Flash Drives- Pen drives/ Thumb Drives
For any SATA & IDE Hard Disk connectivity with the host, investigator uses a Ultrablock USB 3.0 IDE/ SATA Write Blocker, also called as T35U as a code. This hardware device is the 2 in 1 solution for SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) and IDE/ PATA (Parallel Advanced Technology Attachment) storage devices.
In case of USB/ Flash drives connection, Ultrablock USB3 Write Blocker (T8U) is used. This device delivers increased imaging speed to 10X and supports non-512B sector size.
Storage Devices which are in the form of cards such as SDHC, SDXC, MMC, Memory Sticks and other uses Ultrablock Forensic Media Card Reader (FMCR).
The UltraBlock SAS Bridge is a compact hardware write blocker designed specifically to enable rapid imaging of SAS hard drives. This is also called as T6U.
For connecting SSD storage derives, PCIe is the Write Blocker (T9U) which connects drives such as NVMe, mSATA, and other blade type SSDs. This specialized Write Blockers are used with adapters. Investigator cannot acquire the data from SSD drives without using these specialized adapters for connecting the SSD Drives.
Coming to another hardware write blocker, which is all in one tool for connecting Storage Drives known as Ultra Bay 4P, where P stands for Portable.
There are other Write Blockers as well which are in-built Write Blockers used in FRED Workstation, Duplicators and Imagers. All these Write Blockers are powered by Digital Intelligence of OpenText Tableau. These hardware devices are portable in nature and one can carry the Write Blockers at Crime Scene for On-Spot Investigations.
In the world of digital forensics, where evidence can make or break a case, the role of write blockers cannot be overstated. They are the silent protectors of data integrity, ensuring that the truth remains untarnished and legally admissible. Whether you're a seasoned digital forensic expert or just entering the field, understanding, and utilizing write blockers is essential for upholding the highest standards of evidence handling and preserving the credibility of digital investigations.
Unlock the power of protection, with Write Blockers - your data's ultimate guardian!
Customer Successc Executive – DFIR Trainings and Renewals