Hardware The Forensic Workstation

Here are some basic guidelines for choosing hardware:

• CPU You'll probably be able to handle a simple case with any CPU acquired during the last four to five years so this should not be a problem. You will benefit though from multicore systems while doing forensic examinations since you can work on many steps in parallel.

• Fast I/O Datasets associated with forensic examinations are always large and sometimes "huge." Hard disk image files are very large, and because you'll be exporting and generating a lot of data, you can easily exceed half TB (500 GB) for a single machine case. Use RAID5 to increase reliability and reading I/O speed. SATAII provides you with the least expensive, fastest IO you'll need. For a "one-person" forensic system, forget about SCSI or FC and stick to SATAII.

• Large memory You need RAM to do complex searches, to cache data, and to use virtual machines. For most scenarios, you'll need 2 GB; however, 4 GB will make life easier. Only go over that limit if you're sure as to what you're doing. We've seen too many forensic lab systems loaded up with RAM that never gets used! Believe us, this does happen.

• Adaptability You don't know what you'll encounter in the field. Your machine has to be able to read from many different IO systems and media and be connected to various kinds of network.

The above guidelines should get almost every reader started. For those of you who don't want to have to make decisions, here's an example of a more than adequate system.

CAUTION

If you'll be doing this kind of job just once or twice a year, this system will be quite an expensive system to buy and probably totally overkill.

Hardware

Description

Cabinet

Cooler Master Mystique 632

CPU

Last-generation Intel or AMD CPU with hardware-assisted virtualization technology (Intel-VT or AMD-V)

RAM

Greater than or equal to 2GB

Motherboard

PCI-Express based, with at least one 16x, one 4x, and one 1x slot, four PCI slots, gigabit Ethernet, USB 2.0, and IEEE 1394

Disk

Four 500GB SATAII hard disks

Controller

High-point Rocket RAID 2310 PCI-Express 4x

Optical drive

Lite-on LH-20A1S or truly multistandard (DVD+R/DVD+RW/ DVD-R /DVD-RW/DVD+R9/DVD-R9/DVD-RAM/DVD-ROM/CD-R/CD-RW/CD-ROM) SATA optical drive

Hard disk bays

Two SATA removable bays and two ATA/133s

Card reader

Multimedia internal card reader

Networking

2Gb copper Ethernet card and 1Gb fiber-optic Ethernet card

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