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Well now for the course, SEC 508 - Computer Forensics, Investigations and Response.
As with other SANS courses I have taken in the past, SEC 508 at SANS CDI this past year again was an amazing course. I learned more about disk partitions, data organization and recovery in 6 days than in my entire career. If you are used to the “teaching by fire hose” method, than this is the course for you. The first 3 days dealt with data organization on the hard drives when they are formatted with different partitions (FAT, FAT32, NTFS, EXT2) and how to recover data using open source tools.
Day 4 and half of Day 6 is all about Windows (XP, WIN2k, WIN 2k3, Vista and Win2k8), dealing with registry analysis for forensics data, file system analysis, recovering evidence from System Restore Points and IE forensics. I will say that this course taught me much more about the inner-workings of Windows than any of the other courses I have taken combined. I am now scared to use Windows as every time you click something, you leave a huge trail of data.
Day 5 was fun, because it was all about the legal issues and laws surrounding IR and Forensics, and was presented by a real lawyer. Other courses do teach about different laws when dealing with incident handling, computer fraud and forensics but it is always nice to hear it from Richard Salgado – Sr Director Legal - Yahoo.
The best thing about the course was the practical way of teaching the methodology of navigating through a case via practical examples. Throughout the course you are trying to solve multiple cases, and you are introduced to new tools as you move through the methodology. As always with SANS, all the tools covered in the course are either open source or vendor neutral. Also, this course covers cutting-edge material dealing with Vista and Windows 2008 Server.
Last but not the least, the final afternoon is the “Forensics Challenge” where you are required to pick up a case of your choice and solve it using the knowledge taught throughout the course. This gives you a practical exercise to solidify your newfound knowledge. You have a choice of multiple cases with varying degrees of difficulties.
And finally the Instructor Rob Lee was great, very knowledgeable, and brought with him tons of experience from the trenches. He could relate every method to a practical experience.
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