The Web is one of the most exciting and dynamic areas of development in today’s technology. However, with such activity, innovation, and ubiquity have come a set of new challenges for digital forensic examiners, making their jobs even more difficult. For examiners to become as effective with evidence from the Web as they currently are with more traditional evidence, they need (1) methods that guide them to know how to approach this new type of evidence and (2) tools that accommodate web environments’ unique characteristics.
In this dissertation, I present my research to alleviate the difficulties forensic examiners currently face with respect to evidence originating from web environments. First, I introduce a framework for web environment forensics, which elaborates on and addresses the key challenges examiners face and outlines a method for how to approach web-based evidence. Next, I describe my work to identify extensions installed on encrypted web thin clients using only a sound understanding of these systems’ inner workings and the metadata of the encrypted files. Finally, I discuss my approach to reconstructing the timeline of events on encrypted web thin clients by using service provider APIs as a proxy for directly analyzing the device. In each of these research areas, I also introduce structured formats that I customized to accommodate the unique features of the evidence sources while also facilitating tool interoperability and information sharing.