Andrew F. Hay

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Gilbert L. Peterson, PhD.


Analysis of raw memory dumps has become a critical capability in digital forensics because it gives insight into the state of a system that cannot be fully represented through traditional disk analysis. Interest in memory forensics has grown steadily in recent years, with a focus on the Microsoft Windows operating systems. However, similar capabilities for Linux and Apple OS X have lagged by comparison. The volafox open source project has begun work on structured memory analysis for OS X. The tool currently supports a limited set of kernel structures to parse hardware information, system build number, process listing, loaded kernel modules, syscall table, and socket connections. This research addresses one memory analysis deficiency on OS X by introducing a new volafox module for parsing file handles. When open files are mapped to a process, an examiner can learn which resources the process is accessing on disk. This listing is useful for determining what information may have been the target for exfilitration or modification on a compromised system. Comparing output of the developed module and the UNIX lsof (list open files) command on two version of OS X and two kernel architectures validates the methodology used to extract file handle information.

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