Monday, 12 May 2008

Google Searches

Google search terms can be great evidence and I doubt that many machines exist where they can't be found. NetAnalysis identifies them within URLs and cached webpages may hold some results pages.

On a Vista box I am looking at there is a helpfully named folder entitled Local Search History at the path

C\Users\{account name}\AppData\Roaming\Google\Local Search History

The equivalent location on XP is C:|Documents and Settings\{account name}\Application Data\Google\Local Search History.

Within this folder are five files on the box I am looking at
  1. google%2Emaps.w
  2. google%2Eweb.w
  3. google%2Egroups.w
  4. google%2Eimages.w
  5. google%2Enews.w
Each one contains search terms in unicode. I have tested and found as it appears the type of google search is contained in the filename (e.g. google map searches are in google%2Emaps.w and so on).

Notably testing using IE7 with a separate Google Toolbar installed running in Vista revealed that searches made using
  1. Instant search box (set to Google)
  2. Google Toolbar
  3. Google webpage
all populated google%2Eweb.w .

I have found traces of these files in unallocated clusters also.

The google toolbar has a Clear History option and as far as I can tell this modifies the MFT for the file resulting in Encase reporting an Empty File. In testing I carried out searches that caused google%2Eweb.w to extend over three clusters as follows

I cleared search history and via disk view in Encase viewed each cluster. In cluster 1447520 I found remnants of google%2Eweb.w but after a few minutes this cluster was zeroed out (during this test I had pointed Encase at my local drive). So at this point I am not sure why I have found traces in unallocated.


Anonymous said...

Thanks! You just provided me with a ton of good information!



Bojan said...

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Best regards from Banja Luka.