ZIP File Forensics – Analyze & Extract Digital Evidence from Archive

MailXaminer | April 30th, 2019 | Forensics

Zip file is the most commonly using archive file which provides the loose less data compression. Zip files act as the data containers by storing multiple files/ directories in compressed form. Zip file helps the user to transfer large amount of data by compressing its size and also is used to create or save the back of any digital data. Zip file forensics help forensically examine the illegal activities take place through the transfer of compressed data. Through the deep forensics analysis of Zip file format will help to extract the evidence reside in the archive file. Zip file supports different types of compression algorithm to compress and store multiple files within it. DEFLATE is the most commonly used compression algorithm in Zip file format. It allowing to different files in the same archive to compressed by different methods.

Most of the people use Zip file to share or transfer a large amount of digital data without size limitations. this feature of Zip file increase importance to perform forensics examination of Zip file. Through Zip file format forensics investigators can discover the evidence hidden in the file. The main specialty of the Zip file is, it can contain all type of digital data in it without considering the file format or size. And also Zip file supported by many of the software utility. This feature helps the users to simplify their work and transfer a large amount of data of different types together without considering the file format. Zip file uses the .zip to save the archive file. Zip file is always in a packed format. To access the compressed from the Zip file user needs to extract and uncompress the files.

When we consider Zip file forensics, the first step used to performed by the investigator is extracting the files from Zip, to view the content residing in the file. In the normal process to access the data stored in the file user needs to extract and decompress the file through a few steps. Time taken to extract the data from the file will change according to the size of the data contained in it. This makes the investigators to choose the methods that help to analyze the stored data without extracting from the Zip file.

Learn to Forensically Analyze the ZIP File

The computer forensics tool helps the investigator to easily execute a forensic investigation on Zip file by analysing the digital data stored in it. Through the forensic Zip file analyzer feature of the MailXaminer user can add a large amount of data as bulk in compressed form. From which the tool will automatically extract the evidence files stored in Zip file. This helps the investigator to reduce the time to extract and analyze the data. Refer the below section to understand the process of Zip file forensics with the help of digital forensics software.

Add Zip File

Before starting the forensics analysis of Zip file format user needs to add Zip file into the software tool. For that launch & open the most recommend Zip file analyzer tool MailXaminer. Then click on the Add Evidence option and select Zip file option from the image file section. After that browse the file location from the system.

View Extracted Files

Through the display panel of the software, user can easily view the scanned Zip file data. The tool automatically extracts each file formats stored within the archive file separately. Which helps the investigator to analyze each evidence file separately in its original file format and efficiently perform forensic investigation on Zip file.

For example, if the Zip file contains outlook.ost & mailbox.edb. Then both files will be extracted separately in its corresponding (OST & PST) file format.

Analyze Suspected Evidence File

Form the right panel of the tool user can easily examine the suspected evidence file. Which allow to access digital data such as the Email, Calendar, Loose File, Chats, Calls, SMS which are stored in the archive file. And also it allows to perform forensics analysis of Zip file format through various views like “Mail, Hex, MIME, HTML, RTF, properties, Message Header, Attachments“. Each view helps the investigators to obtain different information and hidden evidence from the data file.

Examine Embedded Attachments

With the help of this Zip file analyzer software, user can successfully perform Zip file forensics attachments/ media elements embedded within the file separately. Suspected attachment section of the tool categorizes the attachments and media file which contain the suspected elements according to its sensitivity level.

Search Operation

The tool provides an advance search option to find and extract the evidence from the scanned data file. The software support different search algorithms such as General, proximity, Fuzzy, Steam, wildcard & Regular expression to perform the search operation in deep and time efficient manner. Each algorithm help to find the evidence with different criteria and help to find the answer in a more accurate way.

Final Words

Zip file forensics is the finest way to detect and extract the evidence reside inside the archive file. With the help of email forensic tool user can easily perform the forensics analysis of Zip file format through various email views and searching algorithms.